Sunday, February 8, 2009

How to Get a Good Sound From Your Djembe

Bass tone
The bass tone is the low sound of the djembe. Using the weight of your forearm, strike the center of the drum with your open palm and bouncing your hand off the skin to get the best bass tone drum. Experiment with striking the drum a little off center to see how your particular drum responds. Keep in mind that each drum is unique and has its own "sweet spots".
Each stroke you play on the drum should be with relaxed muscles and motion. While doing this and the following strokes (except for the muted tone), imagine that you have strings attached from the drum to the palms of your hands. As you do this imagine these strings pulling the sound out of the drum. The head on a drum is a vibrating membrane which moves in an up and down motion. By using this imagery you may allow yourself to pull the best sound out of your drum.

Open tone (or just the "tone")
Continuing in a relaxed way, bring your fingers together as you strike the edge of the drum to create an open resonant sound. The edge of the drum should contact the fleshy part of the base of the fingers between the two joints closest to the hand. Be careful to avoid hitting the rim of the drum with the joints in your hands (under your knuckles and in the lines of you palms and hands).

The slap is a bright, popping tone. Firm your fingers and curve them slightly (you're still relaxed remember), strike the edge of the drum with the fleshy part of the hand, just below the fingers. Watch that your thumbs stay away from the rim of the drum. Let your fingers pop down and quickly bounce off the drum. To really get a strong "popping" slap. your drum head needs to be very tight. you should not be able to feel any "give" in the head if press down on the middle of your drum head.

Muted tone
This stroke is a muted Pa that creates a cracking, dry sound. Mute the head of your drum by resting one hand on it just before and during the strike of your other hand.

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