If you ve been to any party with hipsters, traveled to or visited areas of West Africa or the corner of a city street where there are buskers, I’m confident that you would have seen a djembe drum at some point.
Djembe drums have become popular in the past decade as hipster culture has been re-emerging and more manufacturers are making them at an affordable price.
Choosing a djembe can be difficult because there are few music stores that have a broad range available. Factors such as for example size, sound quality, craftsmanship, and price tend to be very crucial when buying.
Table of Contents
- Get Huge Discount on Djembe On Amazon Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sales + Deals
- Remo Percussion MONDO Djembe
- Hand-crafted Djembe from the Africa Heartwood Project
- The foundation of the djembe and other African drums
- Exactly what is a djembe and how is one made?
- Cheaper, mass-manufactured djembes
- The djembe’s role in traditional cultures
- How may be the djembe played?
- When did the djembe reach Westerners?
- Current djembe players and overall popularity
- The Djembefola Documentary
- The djembe in popular culture
- Points to consider when obtaining a djembe
Get Huge Discount on Djembe On Amazon Black Friday & Cyber Monday Sales + Deals
The best djembe for new players is manufactured by Meinl. You aren’t getting a cheap, homemade drum masquerading as an instrument. It’s the real deal with great sound to match its price tag.
One positive aspect of this drum may be the fact that it’s not manufactured. Each shell is even hand-carved, so you know that when a premade head is obtained, they’re all going to be unique and different from one another.
For this price, one can confidently say that this is the closest you’ll get to an authentic sounding djembe. After all, it’s really worth the money you’ll dedicate to it. If you pay close attention to the drum below
Remo Percussion MONDO Djembe
Remo’s Mondo djaaba has left me astonished. The drum is so powerful and big that it features a Skyndeep head which is not just waterproof but also offers an all-natural tone.
When ordering the MONDO djembe, it will already be tuned and so you can enjoy a variety of sounds right out of the box.
The drum stays in tune regardless of the weather, even when traveling.
Hand-crafted Djembe from the Africa Heartwood Project
This djembe from African Heartwood Project may be the only authentic drum on the list. The drums from AHP are imported straight from Africa and so are tested and inspected ahead of shipping to your doorstep.
The drum isn’t expensive.
Just from an aesthetic standpoint, you can tell that it is a well-crafted and traditional djembe. It has imperfections but showcases its own unique character.
Each drum is hand-carved and its top manufactured from natural goat hide.
The Africa Heartwood Project supports local artisans in Africa as it is a non-profit organization.
The foundation of the djembe and other African drums
The first thing that may come to mind when most people think about music from Africa is the sound of energetic, rhythmic drums. Drums are central players in this type of music instead of just being an accompaniment.
The drums will be the very core of the Saharan rhythm. Actually, the most universal instruments which help us to connect with each other in a non-verbal yet powerful language are without doubt, drums!
The djembe is a drum that may have originated in the Mandinke tribe of Guinea and Mali, West Africa.
This West African ethnic group is among the minority populations in other regions of Africa.
Exactly what is a djembe and how is one made?
The djembe is a large drum that has the shape of two goblets, one stuck to the other in a ‘V’, with the curved top serving as a base for the head.
The djembe is traditionally made from a hollowed out tree trunk for the body and goatskin to make the head.
After gathering all of the necessary materials, creating a djembe drum may take up to months.
Most djembes are made by craftsmen with the use of only their bare hands and an ax.
A hammer can be used to mold rough edges and add finishing touches.
These drums (also known as djembes) are made of wood and about 14″ in diameter.
Cheaper, mass-manufactured djembes
Although many synthetic djembes exist on the market, they are not as authentic looking or sounding as a natural djembe.
While there is a compromise in sound due to this exchange, both traditional and synthetic djembe are preferable depending on the setting.
As opposed to the former, the latter is known for its rich sound and attention to detail. However, it can be played wherever a brighter tone would stand out better than others in an ensemble.
Synthetic drums can be much longer lasting and under careful care, they could last for many years.
The djembe’s role in traditional cultures
A djembe is a type of drum that came from West and Central Africa.
The sound of the drum comes from the beating of boiled animal skin on top.
In the traditions where it prevails, its music conveys a note spoken by the djembefola and sets the ambiance in ceremonies or events.
African men are traditionally referred to as djembefolas, or “standing up makers” and anyone from any caste is permitted to play the instrument.
Djembe drums are carved with original designs, which reflect their purpose: to disguise the wearer or to mimic a hunting animal, for instance.
Certain djembes were used in healing ceremonies, as it was believed that the sound of the djembe could raise a person’s energy together with chase away evil spirits. These usually had guardian faces carved on them.
Djembe drums are often played solo, but they can also be played with groups of men and women accompanied by dancing and rituals for prosperity.
How may be the djembe played?
In order to play the djembe, place it between your legs with your feet hugging the bottom. The sound is created on the instrument by three different techniques: bass (lowest pitch), tone (medium tone), and slap (highest).
The sound of the djembe can be manipulated by striking it on different parts. The closer the strike is to the center, the higher in pitch it will sound.
The bass sound is made by striking the guts of the drum, and a slap sound by slapping the edge.
Musical swing is an African concept that features a repeated pattern of three main sounds played steadily so they blend into a flowing rhythm.
The performer and the listener both get swept up in the rhythm of the music. The bass sound can often emphasize what is being played by tapping out a beat or finishing a pattern before another round begins.
When did the djembe reach Westerners?
For decades, the djembe has been a popular instrument in Africa. Recently, it has experienced worldwide popularity because of musicians from Guinea and Mali who shared their traditional music with Americans.
One of the first groups to promote African dance and culture was Les Ballets Africains, a dance company.
When the group entered into great success on Broadway in 1959, many Americans became curious about this kind of art they haven’t seen or heard before.
Ladji Camara, a djembe maestro and expert in Les Ballets could earn a following of students with an interest in how to professionally play the djembe.
Current djembe players and overall popularity
Djembé music has reached every populated continent in the world and has been well received everywhere.
Many djembe legends are Mamady Keita, Soungalo Coulibaly, and Sidiki Camara.
The Djembefola Documentary
“A common bond is the tone of their beautifully crafted instruments,” says Dee. “That and the uniqueness between a djembe (an African drum) and also balaphone which is usually played for ceremonial purposes.”
The Two Guineans are both proud to be from Africa, where they have leant about traditional instruments such as the dj
This documentary highlights contributions from both legends – which have shaped the djembe music industry by preserving it for future generations and making it a part of modern day music.
You can watch this video below.
The djembe in popular culture
As one of the drums that is included in the music from Disney’s The Lion King, the sound of a DJEMBE may resonate with so many individuals.
Several African instruments, including the djembe and the didjeridu, could be heard in this film centered in Kenyan jungles.
Among many other drums, the djembe may be selected. It is played alongside its cousins the djun-djun and talking drums.
The Lion King has enjoyed success both among the greatest Disney animations and as an award-winning best musical re-enacting the initial version of the movie.
Over 140 million people in 139 countries have watched the film, with one or both of the versions being released.
The djembe is a marvel that, in an increasingly urbanized world where electronica competes with traditional instruments, appears to have a proud statement of its past, present and future.
The djembe originated in the forests of West Africa, and it has traveled all around the world.
Djembes speak about the richness of Africa’s history and culture, as well as to the beat that all cultures share.
To provide context: the Mandinke tribe traditionally reveres rhythm. There may be no functionality without a rhythm.
Points to consider when obtaining a djembe
Different drum models have different levels of quality. There are some drums, like the djembe, which are mass-produced in a factory setting then there are hand-made drums that take time and care to make.
How should you decide? Read on!
A drum’s size does not change how you play it, but it will affect the tone. The larger the drum, the deeper sound that is produced.
If you purchase a drum for ideal bass, pick something larger. You may spend more, but it s worth the cost.
A big drum can be hard for kids to play. Keep this in mind before purchasing one for your children.
A djembe can be made of either wood or a synthetic material. There is no reason one type sounds better than the other, however wooden drums will sound more natural and resonate longer than those made out of plastic.