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By djembefeeling
Three weeks ago, I started to practice seriously again. There are always so many things to do, and my rehearsal room is half an hour away and...and...and -- you know this kind of reasoning, I guess. But I was sick and tired of telling myself the reasons why I cannot practice like I used to do when I did not teach and work that much.

Finally, the solution was so simple -- why not just sleep over in my rehearsal room? when you cannot practice in your apartment, just live in the room where you can practice! It's sort of crazy, I know, for my reherasal room is in an old bunker from world-war 2, with no daylight, no phone, no internet. However this is exactly what makes this experience so intense. Nothing to distract your attention! Full concentration on the djembe!!

I sleep over there half of the week. It feels just great, more like a complete person and not any more like a bunch of fragmented parts. And my drumming definitely improves. One day of the 3 or 4 I spend over there is with almost no obligations to teaching. This is a wonderful day. The mood I practice in that day can become incredible calm. Even more so the next morning. You know, I can practice till after midnight without disturbing anybody. The first thing in the morning is to play the last patterns I practised the night before. I can see exactly what my brain did learn during the night, for its so much easier the next morning.

Yesterday I've been in such a balanced mood, i started to practice something that always scared me: to stress certain slaps in a row of slaps. Famoudou plays a kind of echauffement in the beginning for Fefó, where he starts with two loud tons on the forth beat and repeats the melody of the sangban with stressed slaps in a row of slaps:


I couldn't do it. I could play taps instead of quiet slaps, but quiet slaps and loud slaps -- no way! First of all, hitting hard didn't help most of the time. the slaps just didn't necessarily become louder. sometimes the ones with hardly any force are crystal clear and thus louder. I have to relearn my technique (once again) in order to play this pattern. and I have to go down in tempo. this seemingly simple pattern forces me to notice that my old technique serves me only for limited purposes and wasn't even as good for my sounds as I thought. I have to move my hands a bit more into the center than I used to, and I think I should avoid to take the rim as an axis for my hand, instead I think I should place my knuckles about an inch above the rim while still placing my palm on the outer part of the skin. The sound of my slaps is increasing, and I become capable of playing quiet and loud slaps. Its still very difficult to play all quiet slaps at the same level and alls the loud ones as well, but I am sure this will get easier with more practice.

Next to this special excercise, all the fantastic patterns for Fefó, and the usual Mali rhythms I practice a djembe kan by Idrissa Outtara that I found on youtube (really starts at min. 1:34):

[video] ... ure=relmfu[/video]

I practice this every day for 20 minutes and start to feel comfortable with the groove. I can only play it half tempo the most yet, but with some time I think I can manage the original tempo and, finally, start to make up my own patterns and improvise on it. I like to practice this one because it makes me work on my muffled slaps.

So, working on these kinds of things I wonder, what are you working on lately?

best, jürgen
Last edited by djembefeeling on Sat Jun 30, 2012 3:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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By rachelnguyen
Hey Jürgen,

(I am so proud I figured out how to do the umlat, LOL.)

For me, it is always about endurance. I am working on being able to play at breakneck speed for long stretches of time on my dunduns. I have a pretty decent repertoire of pieces, but some of them are very challenging to play and full speed, so I practice them alot. (Sunu, for example, is a butt kicker.)

I am also working on a bunch of solo phrases for dundun that I play with my teacher during performances. I don't even know if these have a name... but he plays a signal on the djembe and the two of us play a pattern together. To the audience it seems like magic because they don't know the signal, LOL. We have a bunch of these little patterns and I sing the djembe part for myself and play the dundun parts to practice. I need to learn where in my dundun pattern to come back in.

On the djembe, I am mostly just working on staying on top of all the stuff I have learned over the last 5 years. I go back and practice the pieces part by part with the breaks. Right now I am working on jinafoli, which I learned in Bamako in January.

I love to hear that you have moved in with your drums for part of the week. I am fortunate that i live in a house where I can practice, so it is awesome to have the drums sitting in my dining room ready at a moment's notice. Unfortunately, right now, I am not practicing due to an injury (see Injury thread) but usually I sit down to play for a few minutes before work and it is a GREAT way to start the day.
By bkidd

That's about all I work on these days. I'm trying to make up for some habits that don't serve me well for playing alternating combinations of tones and slaps in rolls or flams. The techniques that Mamady Keita plays for Wassolonka (Afo track 8 or Les Rythmes du Mandeng Vol 4) or Famoudou Konate plays for Mendiani (Rhythmem Der Malinke track 5) are killers.

I also like the echauff patterns where one tries to emphasize slaps or tones on top of an even stream of sound.

By djembeweaver
I'm starting to ramp up the practice now too. I've got a new practice room where I can play undesturbed for hours sometimes. I practiced for 5 hours yesterday (in two sessions) and 2 and a half today and I've played every day for the last month. Hurrah - it feels great and my sounds are really improving.

I'm with Brian in that I tend to only really focus on sound these days. I play endless echauffements accenting different tones and slaps (sometimes for up to an hour). Recently I've decided to really focus on my left-hand consistency, so I start my practice off with the left hand only...koun kin ka...ka kin kou....kin.ka.kin.ka etc etc. One session last week I did an hour on my left hand only. If I can gain the same consistency in my left hand as in my right then I'll be a formidable player (that's a big if though!).

I'm also doing a lot of that tricky phrase I scored out under the mamady video, plus the Wassolonka style tone/slap flammy combinations that Brian refers to.

Recently I started playing a lovely little practice phrase I came up with. It uses both sides evenly and moves in and out of the bass in two different ways:
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I vary the slaps and tones on each repetition. Sometimes I play the same thing but with the first two basses before the one, so the first slap lands on the one. Actually you can play it starting anywhere.

Love that djembe kan by the way. Gonna try a bit of that methinks...
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By Waraba
Working on basic tone and slap over here...
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By djembefeeling
djembeweaver wrote:Love that djembe kan by the way. Gonna try a bit of that methinks...
welcome to the club! good to have you in... :afro:
So there might be a good chance that you also like this one by idrissa ouattara:


this one caught my attention first, but somehow I decided to start with the other one first.
djembeweaver wrote:In 4/4 it's usually played like this (I've used an 'f' for a slap flam):


In 6/8 like this:

Jon, I practiced this one for a couple of days and I love it! Its interesting how the way I percieved it changed with time. Yesterday, I heard the slap flam and the tone as one group, that helped me to play better tones in 4/4. But its hard in 12/8 because I automatically group with the 4 beats. While I practiced I got curious about the microtiming of this phrase and if there is a change in microtiming in 4/4 and 12/8. Would you mind to record a tiny sample of your practice in different tempos? I know, its in that video of Mamady Keita, but way to fast...

michi wrote:'m currently swotting up for the TTM certificate.
the best of luck with that, michi!
rachelnguyen wrote:Hey Jürgen, (I am so proud I figured out how to do the umlaut, LOL.)
great job, I'm flattered!
rachelnguyen wrote:Sunu, for example, is a butt kicker.
I also practice the duns ballet style a lot these days. Made some good progress on Fefó, Denabendunun (Wadaba), Konkoba Dunun, Dyabara, Dunungbé, Sorsonet, and, last but not least, Kassa. Found some nice ways to play variations and chauffs for some of it.
But it's very hard for me to find nice solutions for Mali rhythms. Just this week, I tried to put Madan and Sunun on ballet style duns, but all my different approaches have been unsatisfactory to me, yet. For Madan, I tried simply to play the first konkoni on sangban and dundun, and the second on the kensedeni. It's authentic, but there are way to much double strokes. to use the kensedeni for additional beats whenever the timeline suggests it sounds better:


but still awkward. Its even worse with Sunun. How do you play Madan and Sunun? do you play the full version for Sunun?:


bkidd wrote:Sound!
I got it! I did some recording for a workshop I intend to give next week and notived some bad slaps on my left hand on the recordings...
Then I had a student over for a lesson last week and taught her to change from the one side drum for Djole with to the other with a call in between: and back to the first one.
I tried to count her in but couldn't do it properly while playing the
usually I don't have any problems with these kind of things, but this was hard for me. So now I focus on playing this one with very nice sounds plus moving my feet on the beats while counting -- tough! I guess there are more years and decades of fun practicing to come...
Last edited by djembefeeling on Wed Jul 04, 2012 8:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
By aghis
I am practicing the bell pattern

X--X --X- --X- X---

but i am still playing it wrong, something like

X-X -X- --X- X---

5=5 , simple, these are just details
By djembeweaver
Hi Jurgen.

Yes I love that djembe kan too. Is he from Ivory coast? Ivorians seem to excell at djembe kan. Anyone know why??

I will definitely do a little recording to post (of that tricky flammy thing) when I get the chance. I'll try to get it done this week. Like I said though - it's still a work in progress (particularly getting both tones clear and crisp)...
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By djembefeeling
djembeweaver wrote:Like I said though - it's still a work in progress (particularly getting both tones clear and crisp)...
no problem at all -- don't be too clear, I love to have company in misery ;)
Last edited by djembefeeling on Sun Jul 01, 2012 7:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By Michel

I am playing madan for danceclass now for a few weeks, dunun ballet-style, the way Sidiki plays in this video (madan starts at 2:27) I like it that way very much.

For sunu I didn't find a ballet-style example. When I play it it's like you wrote, on the place you mention an 's' I play closed, I think it's what you mean. When it's fast it's a little hard to play! But I'm getting better.....

And now to Italy-Spain in the final again...
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By djembefeeling
djembeweaver wrote:Is he from Ivory coast?
no, actually he's from Burkina Faso like a lot of good djembefolas lately...
Michel wrote:For the rest I'm busy trying to play mandjani... Look at Drissa Kone's version on youtube... Lovely
oh yeah, great stuff. I have to practice that one soon, since we meet with four people from Rainer Polaks class in mid August to repeat all the rhythms we did so far...
...but, pssst, there is a great other source, not purely traditional, because he plays some butt-kicking modern solo phrases on top: the manjanin of Abdoul Doumbia on his Denbaya-CD!
Michel wrote:I am playing madan for danceclass now for a few weeks, dunun ballet-style, the way Sidiki plays in this video (madan starts at 2:27) I like it that way very much.
Yes, thanks for that. I know this video with Sidiki. It's one of the two better versions of Madan I have, but I'm still not completely happy with it. It feels just different than the quartett with two konkonins...
Michel wrote:And now to Italy-Spain in the final again...
Now Spain is showing their complete strength. People here used to think that we would have beaten Spain if we wouldn't have lost against Italy, but La Furia Roja is showing that they are still number one...
By djembeweaver
OK Jurgen here's the audio files as promised. I couldn't upload WAV so had to convert to MP3.

First the excuses though:

1) I only had 20 mins in the studio so didn't really have time to 'get into the zone'

2) I played a gig with Samsou yesterday and my fingers felt a bit like sausages this morning.

Anyway, here's me trying to play a 6/8 version (looped in an echauffement). I lose it a bit towards the end.
(515.93 KiB) Downloaded 357 times
Here's a 4/4 version (sorry for the horrendous quality - I forgot to level the zoom before hitting record):
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I totally lose it when I try to repeat the phrase continuously at the end :x

Here's the same thing played slow and then speeded up. I manage to keep the phrasing as it gets faster but lose control of the taps and sloans:
(443.69 KiB) Downloaded 356 times
Anyway there you go...far from perfect but definitely getting there I hope.
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By michi
Thanks for posting these! The binary version is similar to a technique Mamady teaches. We discussed this before here. You can hear Mamady playing it properly here.

The ternary version is tricky too. There are actually two version you can play. Make this the underlying basic pattern:
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Now swing it so the distance between the two slaps is increased by pulling the first slap closer to the tone. The spacing looks something like this:
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ts sts sts sts s
The tones still mark the down-beats, and the second slap still sits on the same (third) micro-pulse.

And you can play it by opening a gap after each tone, so the second slap shifts closer to the third one (tones and third slaps are in the same place as before):
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t sst sst sst ss
I find the second one quite easy to play, but the first one is hard for me, as is Mamady's technique. I keep working on it every now and then, but I'm still not at the point where I can play it cleanly at speed. I end up compressing the flams too much.

Mamady also teaches a Wassolonka phrase that is quite similar to your ternary version. You can hear it towards the end of the solo original: