How to Play the Djembe Drum

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In this free djembe educational video series for beginners, our expert will introduce you to the djembe and how to play it, from instrument selection to polyrhythms and slap techniques.

Series Summary

The djembe is a large, goblet-shaped drum that is skin covered and played with bare hands. The drum is a membranophone, meaning its covering in a shell, usually rawhide. Its origins trace back to West Africa, where it is a monumental part of the culture and musical history. According to African tradition, the djembe contains certain spirits which motivate the drummer and are an active part of the experience for the listener, as well. While the djembe drum has found popularity in the Western world as a part of a drum circle, its intended ensemble use is with a dunun drum and bells. Djembe soloists or lead drummers will beat rhythms to accent and accompany dancers, signaling changes in dance steps as well as adapting to the dance. For this reason, its important for djembe drummers who want to use the instrument in the traditional fashion to learn a variety of rhythms and beats popular with African dance. Playing a drum with bare hands might seem like and easy task, but when the musician is required to play, predict and adjust to dancers and other musicians, it becomes a little harder. In this free video clip series, our expert will introduce you to the djembe drum and how its played. Learn how to do everything from basic taps and beats to more advanced rhythms like polyrhythms and sixteenth notes. You will also learn about proper posture and body mechanics for playing the drum as well as slapping and soloing techniques. Everything from the most basic introduction to rhythm to the execution of difficult exercises such as triplets and sextuplets are included.

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