Drumming plays an important part in Sub-Saharan Africa. They are used as a means of communication to bring people together and are
played at important events including Births, Weddings and Funerals. The different drum beats can be used for the different events so people know
what is being celebrated. Drumming also accompanies dancing and singing.
Music is passed on mainly through Aural Tradition. This means that the rhythms have been passed down through the generations. Often, the
drummers from a village come from the same family and they have an important position in their community.
There are many different types of drums played throughout Africa. These are made from different materials and are played with different techniques
with hands and sticks. Rhythms are often repeating cycles. Syncopation and complex polyrhythms and cross-rhythms are common. Drumming
is oftewn lead by a MASTER DRUMMER. The master drummer will lead the others with a call and response structure.
Drums can be played with different shaped sticks or one or both hands. The shape of the hand and where on the drum head it is struck will
change the timbre or tone of the sound. By resting a stick or hand on the drum skin can change the sound. This is called DAMPENING.
Drums can also be struck on the wood on the rim or side of the dum to produce different sounds.
Different Types of African Drums
Goblet shaped drum from West Africa. Single head played with trhe hands.
Djembe drums come in different sizes. The larger the drum, the lower the
Double-headed cylindrical drums. There is a skin at both ends and they are
played horizontally with sticks.
The three main types of Dundun are:
1/ Kenkeni - high pitched drum that keeps the main beat.
2/ Sangban - A mid-pitched drum.
3/ Dundunba - The largest of the three types which is low in pitch.
DONNO (TALKING DRUM)
The donno is described as an hour-glass shape. It is played under one arm
and the strings which run along the drum are attached to the skin of the
drum head. When vthe drum is squeezed, the pitch of the drum changes
when it is struck with the curved wooden beater.
The different pitches imitate the patterns of the human voice.
KAGAN, KIDI and SOGO
Shaped like a barrel, these drums have a single skin and are played upright
with wooden sticks.
THE SABAR DRUM
Played with a flexible stick and a bare hand. They come in different sizes
and a usually played in an ensemble. They are used tsend messages
between villages and their sound can travel several miles.