Djembe Rhythms are a type of African Drum Rhythm that usually refers to musical arrangements involving 2 or more drums, one of which being a djembe drum.
Although these drum rhythms are often called djembe rhythms, it tends to insinuate that these rhythms are all about the djembe drum, which they are not. Though calling them a djembe rhythm maybe be a way of identifying then a rhythm which is traditionally played on a djembe and dunun (or dunduns), rather than the counless other traditional drum rhythms that are found in Africa.
Master drummer Famoudou Konate and Seckou Conde playing in a djembe ensemble in Sanankoro, Hamana in Guinea in 2007
To further confuse things there are many drum rhythms that have are traditionally not played on djembe, which have been transitioned onto djembe, such as Djole (which is traditionally played on the Shiko drums) or Sabar (which is still mostly played on Sabar drums).
A traditional djembe rhythm usually has an accompanying dance. Djembe rhythms and their corresponding dances would have been associated with specific occassions, with each rhythm having a time and place. These days rhythms and dances may be performed at a wider range of events.
In general the djembefola usually leads the rhythms. He/she may play a call at the beginning of the rhythm and a may call some breaks during the rhythm which may or may not co-incide with certain dance steps or changes in direction.
An echauffement is also really typical to djembe rhythms, and can be initiated by either the djembefola or the dundunfola, but all drummers and dancer change their playing / dancing and create a sort of crescendo, after which things calm down, or the rhythm may end, or a break may be called.
There are many different styles of djembe rhythm. These difference come down to geographical location, and hence different ethnic groups and the evolution of cultural practices in disperate locations and different ethnic groups, such as Maninka, Susu and Bamana. A 'djembe style' is not somethig that's easy to define, in part because styles are continually evolving.
A high level breakdown of the 'djembe rhythm' styles might look something like this:
Here is a list of traditional Maninka djembe rhythms.
The term "djembe rhythm" may also refer to a rhythm from another tradition that has been adapted to be played on djembe, such as djole, which is traditionally played on the Siko drums.
We have a few different resources on djembe rhythms and african drum rhythms here on djembefola.com.
Our latest project with Tasumakan is what we believe is the best way to learn djembe besides learning from an experienced teacher.
Here is a non-definitive list of traditional Mande djembe rhythms.
Molekani Djou jee
Soli de Manian
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