The abundance of African Music Cultures stands in strong contrast to the material poverty in some African regions. A technological development like in European Music – moving from the monochord to the concert hall, going from small medieval music ensembles to over 100 person symphony orchestras never happened in Africa. Not to mention the invention of electronic generated acoustic sound and music forms.
Instead, naturally found materials or objects were used for sound generation such as: wooden sticks, hollowed out trunks, Bamboo canes and reeds, fruit caps, (turned fray), palm leaves, emptied out Pumpkins, animal skins and chords.
These apparently „poor“ instruments were combined with the creativity and innovative spirit of the African people to offer an incredible variety of musical sounds and activities. Some instruments only exist in Africa.
The drums are the most frequently used instruments. Their origin comes from the Malinke and Bambares tribes, located in Guinea, Senegal and the Ivory Coat.
The drum was always used by a variety of cultures for ceremonies and rituals and was used to provide the tribe members with a unique feeling of unison.
There are numerous drums, which differ not only in their appearance and size, but also from the sound and are played differently. From the different forms and dimensions of the drums the country of origin can be determined. This is also dependent on the type of wood used.
The drum is handcrafted. The body of the drum is made from wood, pumpkin shells or clay, the skin is from reptiles, cows, goats or other animals. The most popular types of drums are: Djembe, Bassm-Djembe, Bougarabou, Bass Drum, Talking Drum, Friction Drum, Kpanlogo, Bata and Sabar.
The different kinds of drums use different playing techniques. On the Friction Drum, the skin of the drum us rubbed in order to generate different tones, Talking Drum (Sand Clock Drum) is referred to as a talking drum since it mimics the human voice. It is connected with two leather bands. You pin it under your arms and by moving your upper arm generate different sounds. At the same time the rhythm is drummed onto the skin of the drum with a wooded stick.
The Djembe is drummed using your hands and the different tones are generated by using different parts of the hand. Different vocals provide an overall rhythm.
Djemben are often accompanied by Bass Drums, Kenkeni, Sangba and Djumumba drums, whereby these have different bass as well as the pounding on the fitting bell tones.
Drumming always provides the rhythm and speed. There are slow and fast rhythms, that can be varied thoughout the performance. Also among drummers there are soloists, that insert their solo as appropriate, and rotate with other drummers. The drum connects people and strengthens your vitality and provides spiritual balance.
“A Drum that nobody touches, cannot speak.”
An African Quote