Ideas for Djembe solo

Djembe soloing probably the most exciting part of djembe drumming and it can really make you smile when someone is weaving a bit of magic around a rhythm.

Soloing is supposed to make the dancers look good and mark their steps and movements.

A good djembe solo is aware of the dun duns and should converse with them. This may take the form of mimicking them or call and response, filling gaps etc.

In the last few years djembe soloing has become more busy and rhythms have become faster and it seems these days there is a big emphasis on speed and smoking hands.

Clear sounds with distinction between tones and slaps is very important.

Becoming a good soloist takes a lot of time and drum vocabulary. There are no quick solutions, and we recommend you study traditional djembe drumming with a good teacher if that is possible.

Djembe learning vidoes can help supplement a teacher, or take ones place if no teacher is available to you. At djembefola.com we recommend you check out Tasumakan, online djembe drumming video lessons, which provides a good basis for djembe accompaniments, djembe solo, and the all important dunduns for each rhythm.

Here's a few ideas for djembe solo, that I have toyed with. I really would love to get feedback especially new ideas back from people, so let's talk djembe solo in the forum!

By learning a solo structure like this you will find you can improvise a lot around it and still know where you are in relation to the rhythm.

Consider this structure


S . . S . . S . . S . . S . T T
r . . l . . r . . l . . S . r l


This is shows the djembe weaving it's way through time, every 3 1/16th beats and popping out at the end with 2 tones to finish.

Working from here we can build a lot of complexity and create some very interesting solos. I've added a few below.



Some solo variations based on this idea:


var 1

S T T S S T S T T S T T S . T T
r l r l r l r l r l r l r . r l


var 2

S T T S S T S T T S T T S . T T
r 2 r l 2 l r 2 r l 2 l r . r l


var 3

T T T S S S T T T S S S S . T T
r l r l r l r l r l r l r . r l


var 4

S S S T T T S S S T T T S . T T
2 r l 2 r l 2 r l 2 r l r . r l


var 5

T T S T T S T T S T T S S . T T
r l r l r l r l r l r l r . r l


var 6

T T S T T S T T S T T S S . T T
2 r l 2 r l 2 r l 2 r l r . r l


var 7

T Ft T S Fs S T Ft T S Fs S S . T T
r lr l r lr l r lr l r lr l r . r l


As you can see there are even more variations to this theme that aren't discussed here. Your imagination is the limit.

Why don't you come share your ideas with us.

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