Musical Instruments


A djembe ( /ˈdʒɛm.bɛ/ jem-be) (also spelled djembé, jembe, jenbe, djimbe, jimbe, or dyinbeis a rope-tuned skin-covered drum played with bare hands. According to the Bamana people in Mali, the name of the djembe comes from the saying "Anke djé, anke bé" which translates to "everyone gather together in peace" and defines the drum's purpose. In the Bambara language, "djé" is the verb for "gather" and "bé" translates as "peace".

The djembe has a body (or shell) carved of hardwood and a drumhead made of untreated (not limed) rawhide, most commonly made from goatskin. Djembes are 30–38 cm (12–15 in) in diameter and 58–63 cm (23–25 in) in height. The majority have a diameter in the 13–14 inch range.
The djembe can produce a wide variety of sounds, making it one of the most versatile drums. The drum is very loud, allowing it to be heard clearly as a solo instrument over a large percussion ensemble. The Malinké people say that a skilled drummer is one who "can make the djembe talk", meaning that the player can tell an emotional story. (The djembe was never used by the Malinké as a signaling drum to send messages.)
Traditionally, the djembe is played only by men, as are the dunun that always accompany the djembe. Conversely, other percussion instruments that are commonly played as part of an ensemble, such as the shekere, karignan (a tubular bell), and kese kese (a woven basket rattle), are usually played by women. Even today, it is rare to see women play djembe or dunun in West Africa and African women express astonishment when they do see a female djembe player.


Mali Empire c. 1350 AD

There is general agreement that the origin of the djembe is associated with the Mandinka caste of blacksmiths, known as Numu. The wide dispersion of the djembe drum throughout West Africa may be due to Numu migrations during the first millennium AD. Despite the association of the djembe with the Numu, there are no hereditary restrictions on who may become a djembefola (literally, "one who plays the djembe"). This is in contrast to instruments whose use is reserved for members of the griot caste, such as the balafon, kora, and ngoni. (The djembe is not a griot instrument.) Anyone who plays djembe is a djembefola—the term does not imply a particular level of skill.
Geographically, the traditional distribution of the djembe is associated with the Mali Empire, which dates back to 1230 AD and included parts of the modern-day countries of Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, and Senegal. However, due to the lack of written records in West African countries, it is unclear whether the djembe predates or postdates the Mali Empire. It seems likely that the history of the djembe reaches back for at least several centuries, and possibly more than a millennium.
The goblet shape of the djembe suggests that it originally may have been created from a mortar. (Mortars are widely used throughout West Africa for food preparation.)

Sound and striking technique

 Djembe players use three basic sounds: bass, tone, and slap, which have low, medium, and high pitch, respectively. These sounds are achieved by varying the striking technique and position. Other sounds are possible (masters achieve as many as twenty-five distinctly different sounds),[19] but these additional sounds are used rarely, mainly for special effects during a solo performance (djembe kan, literally, "the sound of the djembe"). A skilled player can use the sounds to create very complex rhythmic patterns; the combination of rhythm and the differently-pitched sounds often leads an inexpert listener to believe that more than one drum is being played.
The bass sound is produced by striking the drum with the palm and flat fingers near the center of the skin. Tone and slap are produced by striking the drum closer to the edge; the contact area of the fingers determines whether the sound is a tone or a slap. For a tone, most of the area of the fingers and the edge of the palm contact the skin whereas, for a slap, the contact area is limited to the edge of the palm and the fingertips. The basic sounds are played "open", meaning that the hands rebound immediately after a strike, so the contact time with the skin is as short as possible.
Acoustically, a djembe is a Helmholtz resonator: the frequency of the bass is determined by the size and shape of the shell and independent of the amount of tension on the skin. In contrast, the pitch of tones and slaps rises as the tension of the skin is increased. The bass has a frequency of 65–80 Hz. Depending on the size of the drum and the amount of tension on the skin, tone frequency varies from 300 Hz to 420 Hz and slap frequency from 470 Hz to 670 Hz, with audible overtones reaching beyond 4 kHz.
For its size, the djembe is an unusually loud drum. The volume of the drum rises with increasing skin tension. On a djembe tuned to solo pitch, skilled players can achieve sound pressure of more than 105 dB, about the same volume as a jackhammer.

Role in the traditional ensemble

Djembe and konkoni ensemble in the village of Nafadié, 85km northwest of Bamako, Mali, recorded January 2008
Traditionally, the djembe forms an ensemble with a number of other djembes and one or more dunun. Except for the lead (or solo) djembe, all instruments play a recurring rhythmic figure that is known as an accompaniment pattern or accompaniment part. The figure repeats after a certain number of beats, known as a cycle. The most common cycle length is four beats, but cycles often have other lengths, such as two, three, six, eight or more beats. (Some rhythms in the dundunba family from the Hamana region in Guinea have cycle lengths of 16, 24, 28, or 32 beats, among others.) Cycles longer than eight beats are rare for djembe accompaniments—longer cycles are normally played only by the dununba or sangban.
Each instrument plays a different rhythmic figure, and the cycle lengths of the different instruments need not necessarily be the same. This interplay results in complex rhythmic patterns (polyrhythms).
The number of instruments in the ensemble varies with the region and occasion. In Mali, a traditional ensemble often consists of one dunun (called konkoni) and one djembe. The konkoni and djembe are in a rhythmic dialog, with each drum taking turns playing accompaniment while the other instrument plays improvised solos.

In Guinea, a typical ensemble uses three djembes and three dunun. If an ensemble includes more than one djembe, the highest pitched (and therefore loudest) djembe plays solo phrases and the other djembes and dunun play accompaniment.
An ensemble may have only two dunun, depending on whether a village has enough dunun players and is wealthy enough to afford three dunun.
A djembe and dunun ensemble traditionally does not play music for people to simply sit back and listen to. Instead, the ensemble creates rhythm for people to dance, sing, clap, or work to. The western distinction between musicians and audience is inappropriate in a traditional context. A rhythm is rarely played as a performance, but is participatory: musicians, dancers, singers, and onlookers are all part of the ensemble and frequently change roles while the music is in progress.
Musicians and participants often form a circle, with the centre of the circle reserved for dancers. Depending on the particular rhythm being played, dances maybe performed by groups of men and/or women with choreographed steps, or single dancers may take turns at performing short solos. The lead djembe's role is to play solo phrases that accentuate the movements of the dancers. Often, the aim is to "mark the dancers' feet", that is, to play rhythmic patterns that are synchronized with the dancers' steps. Individual solo dances are not choreographed, with the dancer freely moving in whatever way feels appropriate at that moment. Marking a solo dancer's feet requires the lead djembefola to have strong rapport with the dancer, and it takes many years of experience for a djembefola to acquire the necessary rhythmic repertoire.
The lead djembefola also improvises to a rhythm at times when no-one is dancing. While there is considerable freedom in such improvisation, the solo phrases are not random. Instead, individual rhythms have specific key patterns (signature phrases) that the soloist is expected to know and integrate into his improvisation. A skilled soloist will also play phrases that harmonize with the background rhythm (groove) that is created by the other instruments.
Source: Wikipedia


The didgeridoo (also known as a didjeridu or didge) is a wind instrument developed by Indigenous Australians of northern Australia around 1,500 years ago and still in widespread use today both in Australia and around the world. It is sometimes described as a natural wooden trumpet or "drone pipe". Musicologists classify it as a brass aerophone
There are no reliable sources stating the didgeridoo's exact age. Archaeological studies of rock art in Northern Australia suggest that the people of the Kakadu region of the Northern Territory have been using the didgeridoo for less than 1,000 years, based on the dating of paintings on cave walls and shelters from this period. A clear rock painting in Ginga Wardelirrhmeng, on the northern edge of the Arnhem Land plateau, from the freshwater period shows a didgeridoo player and two songmen participating in an Ubarr Ceremony.    
A modern didgeridoo is usually cylindrical or conical, and can measure anywhere from 1 to 3 m (3 to 10 ft) long. Most are around 1.2 m (4 ft) long. The length is directly related to the 1/4 sound wavelength of the keynote. Generally, the longer the instrument, the lower the pitch or key of the instrument.
"Didgeridoo" is considered to be an onomatopoetic word of Western invention. It has also been suggested that it may be derived from the Irish words dúdaire or dúidire, meaning variously 'trumpeter; constant smoker, puffer; long-necked person, eavesdropper; hummer, crooner' and dubh, meaning "black" (or dúth, meaning "native"). However, this theory is not widely accepted.
The earliest occurrences of the word in print include a 1919 issue of Smith's Weekly where it was referred to as an "infernal didjerry" which "produced but one sound – (phonic) didjerry, didjerry, didjerry and so on ad infinitum", the 1919 Australian National Dictionary, The Bulletin in 1924 and the writings of Herbert Basedow in 1926. There are numerous names for this instrument among the Aboriginal people of northern Australia, with yiḏaki one of the better known words in modern Western society. Yiḏaki, also sometimes spelt yirdaki, refers to the specific type of instrument made and used by the Yolngu people of north-east Arnhem Land. However, Yolngu themselves are currently using the synonym mandapul to refer to the instrument, out of respect for the passing of a Manggalili-clan man in early 2011 whose name sounds similar to yiḏaki. Many didgeridoo enthusiasts and some scholars advocate reserving tribal names for tribal instruments, and this practice has been endorsed by some Aboriginal community organisations, though in day-to-day conversation bilingual Aboriginal people will often use the word "didgeridoo" interchangeably with the instrument's name in their own language.
Authentic Aboriginal didgeridoos are produced in traditionally oriented communities in Northern Australia or by makers who travel to Central and Northern Australia to collect the raw materials. They are usually made from hardwoods, especially the variouseucalyptus species that are endemic to the region. Sometimes a native bamboo, such as Bambusa arnhemica, or pandanus is used. Generally the main trunk of the tree is harvested, though a substantial branch may be used instead. Aboriginal didgeridoo craftsmen hunt for suitably hollow live trees in areas with obvious termite activity. Termites attack these living eucalyptus trees, removing only the dead heartwood of the tree, as the living sapwood contains a chemical that repels the insects. Various techniques are employed to find trees with a suitable hollow, including knowledge of landscape and termite activity patterns, and a kind of tap or knock test, in which the bark of the tree is peeled back, and a fingernail or the blunt end of a tool, such as an axe is knocked against the wood to determine if the hollow produces the right resonance. Once a suitably hollow tree is found, it is cut down and cleaned out, the bark is taken off, the ends trimmed, and the exterior is shaped; this results in a finished instrument. This instrument may be painted or left undecorated. A rim of beeswax may be applied to the mouthpiece end. Traditional instruments made by Aboriginal craftsmen in Arnhem Land are sometimes fitted with a 'sugarbag' mouthpiece. This black beeswax comes from wild bees and has a distinctive aroma.
Non-traditional didgeridoos can also be made from PVC piping, non-native hard woods (typically split, hollowed and rejoined), glass, fiberglass, metal, agave, clay, hemp (a bioplastic named zelfo), and even carbon fibre. These didges typically have an upper inside diameter of around 1.25" down to a bell end of anywhere between two to eight inches and have a length corresponding to the desired key. The mouthpiece can be constructed of beeswax, hardwood or simply sanded and sized by the craftsman. In PVC, an appropriately sized rubber stopper with a hole cut into it is equally acceptable, or to finely sand and buff the end of the pipe to create a comfortable mouthpiece.
Modern didgeridoo designs are distinct from the traditional Australian Aboriginal didgeridoo, and are innovations recognized by musicologists.[11][12] Didgeridoo design innovation started in the late 20th Century using non-traditional materials and non-traditional shapes.
The didgeridoo is played with continuously vibrating lips to produce the drone while using a special breathing technique called circular breathing. This requires breathing in through the nose whilst simultaneously expelling stored air out of the mouth using the tongue and cheeks. By use of this technique, a skilled player can replenish the air in their lungs, and with practice can sustain a note for as long as desired. Recordings exist of modern didgeridoo players playing continuously for more than 40 minutes; Mark Atkins on Didgeridoo Concerto (1994) plays for over 50 minutes continuously.
Fellow of the British Society Anthony Baines wrote that the didgeridoo functions " an aural kaleidoscope of timbres" and that "the extremely difficult virtuoso techniques developed by expert performers find no parallel elsewhere.
Many didgeridoos are painted using traditional or modern paints by either their maker or a dedicated artist, however it is not essential that the instrument be decorated. It is also common to retain the natural wood grain with minimal or no decoration. Some modern makers deliberately avoid decoration if they are not of Indigenous Australian descent, or leave the instrument blank for an Indigenous Australian artist to decorate it at a later stage.

Physics and operation
An Aboriginal man playing the didgeridoo at Circular Quay
A termite-bored didgeridoo has an irregular shape that, overall, usually increases in diameter towards the lower end. This shape means that its resonances occur at frequencies that are not harmonically spaced in frequency. This contrasts with the harmonic spacing of the resonances in a cylindrical plastic pipe, whose resonant frequencies fall in the ratio 1:3:5 etc. The second resonance of a didgeridoo (the note sounded by overblowing) is usually around an 11th higher than the fundamental frequency (a frequency ratio somewhat less than 3:1).
The vibration produced by the player's lips has harmonics, i.e., it has frequency components falling exactly in the ratio 1:2:3 etc. However, the non-harmonic spacing of the instrument's resonances means that the harmonics of the fundamental note are not systematically assisted by instrument resonances, as is usually the case for Western wind instruments (e.g., in a clarinet, the 1st 3rd and 5th harmonics of the reed are assisted by resonances of the bore, at least for notes in the low range).
Sufficiently strong resonances of the vocal tract can strongly influence the timbre of the instrument. At some frequencies, whose values depend on the position of the player's tongue, resonances of the vocal tract inhibit the oscillatory flow of air into the instrument. Bands of frequencies that are not thus inhibited produce formants in the output sound. These formants, and especially their variation during the inhalation and exhalation phases of circular breathing, give the instrument its readily recognizable sound.
Other variations in the didgeridoo's sound can be made by adding vocalizations to the drone. Most of the vocalizations are related to sounds emitted by Australian animals, such as the dingo or the kookaburra. To produce these sounds, the players simply have to use their vocal cords to produce the sounds of the animals whilst continuing to blow air through the instrument. The results range from very high-pitched sounds to much lower guttural vibrations. Adding vocalizations increases the complexity of the playing.
Cultural significance
Traditionally and originally, the didgeridoo was primarily played as an accompaniment to ceremonial dancing and singing. However, it was also common for didgeridoos to be played for solo or recreational purposes outside of ceremonial gatherings. For surviving Aboriginal groups of northern Australia, the didgeridoo is still an integral part of ceremonial life, as it accompanies singers and dancers in cultural ceremonies that continue. Today, the majority of didgeridoo playing is for recreational purposes in both Indigenous Australian communities and elsewhere around the world.
Pair sticks, sometimes called clapsticks or bilma, establish the beat for the songs during ceremonies. The rhythm of the didgeridoo and the beat of the clapsticks are precise, and these patterns have been handed down for many generations. In the Wangga genre, the song-man starts with vocals and then introduces blima to the accompaniment of didgeridoo. 
Gender prohibition
Traditionally, only men play the didgeridoo and sing during ceremonial occasions, although both men and women may dance. Female didgeridoo players do exist, but their playing takes place in an informal context and is not specifically encouraged. Linda Barwick, an ethnomusicologist, says that though traditionally women have not played the didgeridoo in ceremony, in informal situations there is no prohibition in the Dreaming Law. For example, Jemima Wimalu, a Mara woman from the Roper River is very proficient at playing the didgeridoo and is featured on the record Aboriginal Sound Instruments released in 1978. In 1995, musicologist Steve Knopoff observed Yirrkala women performing djatpangarri songs that are traditionally performed by men and in 1996, ethnomusicologist Elizabeth MacKinley reported women of the Yanyuwa group giving public performances. On 3 September 2008, however, publisher Harper Collins issued a public apology for its book "The Daring Book for Girls" which openly encouraged girls to play the instrument. 
While there is no prohibition in the area of the didgeridoo's origin, such restrictions have been applied by other Indigenous communities. The didgeridoo was introduced to the Kimberlies almost a century ago but it is only in the last decade that Aboriginal men have shown adverse reactions to women playing the instrument and prohibitions are especially evident in the South East of Australia. The belief that women are prohibited from playing is widespread among non-Aboriginal people and is also common among Aboriginal communities in Southern Australia; some ethnomusicologists believe that the dissemination of the Taboo belief and other misconceptions is a result of commercial agendas and marketing. Tourists generally rely on shop employees for information when purchasing a didgeridoo. Additionally, the majority of commercial didgeridoo recordings available are distributed by multinational recording companies and feature non-Aboriginals playing a New Age style of music with liner notes promoting the instrument's spirituality which misleads consumers about the didgeridoo's secular role in traditional Aboriginal culture.
The Taboo belief is particularly strong among many Indigenous groups in the South East of Australia, where it is forbidden and considered "cultural theft" for non-Indigenous women, and especially performers of New Age music regardless of gender, to play or even touch a didgeridoo. 
In popular culture
The didgeridoo also became a role playing instrument in the experimental and avant-garde music scene. Industrial music bands like Test Department generated sounds from this instrument and used them in their industrial performances, linking ecology to industry, influenced by ethnic music and culture.
It has also been an instrument used for the fusion of tribal rhythms with a black metal sound, a music project called Naakhum that used the paganism of the Australian tribes and many others as an approach.
Source: Wkipedia


Bodhran - the Irish drum or Celtic drum

The bodhran drum is the traditional beat of Irish music with its deep sound and varied playing styles, you can play in the traditional Irish folk rhythm or in any modern and personal style. To obtain different sounds tap on the goatskin or on the rim, for more advanced playing you can place the hand on the back of the playing surface and move the hand position to get different sounds. The tipper – which is the double headed drumstick held in one hand - allows very fast and complex rhythms.


It is said that the Balalaika embodies the Russian people’s character, with its ability to switch from happiness to sadness with ease. It is a warm, three stringed instrument with a beautiful sound and deep roots in the traditions of Russia. The Balalaika most likely evolved from the Oriental dombra, but in the later 19th century the instrument underwent a number of changes, including the adoption of the classic triangular shape.


The slit drum (sometimes called crack tools or instruments slit ) are percussion instruments idiophones . They are usually made ​​with a log of wood or bamboo , which is empty and that you have had one or more grooves or slits to sound when struck.
Depending on the type of instrument has one or more parallel slits on one side and some models have grooves arranged in a H In the latter case, as in the teponaztli of the Maya and Aztecs , if the tabs are of unequal length and thickness drum produces two different notes. The ends of the slit drum are closed so that the shell makes the camera vibrations resonate and languages ​​are created by hitting with a mallet. That resonates chamber increases the sound volume produced by the tongue, which exits through the opening. If the resonance chamber is the right size to make the pitch of the sound produced by the tongue, in other words if you have enough volume for it to develop the full sound wave of the tone, the instrument will be more efficient and sound louder.
Slit drums are played usually with mallets, sticks or clubs, but also can be touched with the hands and feet.
In Vanuatu , large slit drums called atintin / atingting kon or gongs atingting / atintin, carry a single slit and are decorated with figures carved in wood in the manner of local totems.

                       The Kagul of Maguindanao in the Philippines , is small and is made ​​of bamboo.

Slit drums are very common in Africa , and carry a variety of names, shapes and sizes according to the traditions of each ethnic group. There are a few centimeters to several meters long. Because of its great potential noise, large African slit drums were traditionally used to transmit coded messages, for which they are sometimes called "drums phone". 2 drums Bamileke of Cameroon , like most African slit drums have a single slit and the variations in thickness of the edges of the slit to produce four notes.
Slit drums are different versions of traditional instruments from Africa, Southeast Asia, Oceania and Central America.

More Slit Drums...




1 comment:

  1. Wow it is fantastic post regarding musical instruments such as slit drum, Balalaika, bodhran drum, Didgeridoo, djembe and many more. This all musical instruments looks are traditional. Thanks for share this knowledgeable post because first time I heard and seen this types of musical instruments.