African drums
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:: The use of African drums
:: The instruments of the tribes in Gambia
:: A drum called Djembe
:: How to learn to play a drum called Djembe

:: The use of African drums

Drums are wonderful instrument, and they have beautiful sound. In Gambia drums are very important in peoples daily life. We use drums in many different ways, we have drums, which are used for sending massages to the people in town or some time to send massage to the next village, and there are drums for ceremonies like weddings or naming ceremonies and there are also drums for healing people who are sick.

Drums are instrument that when you hear them you feel something inside your body, because they have this supper natural power, which goes into the body and touches our soul and wake our spirit. You see a drum beat, is the same as heartbeat they have the same pulse, so that way when we hear the spirit of the drum sound. We response immediately, and we responded in different ways.

There are some people when they hear sound of a drums, they cannot stand still, their whole body starts to move and in a few seconds they begging to dance to the drum. Because the person spirit and the drummer and drum spirit comes together as one spirit, and that person is also have a very high spiritual communication with drum and the drummer, which any drummer or musician will love to when he/she is giving a concert to see people dancing to your music, it is lick the person is telling the drummer that he/she understand the spiritual drum language. So those kinds of people know how to use their spirit, because drums rhythm is an international language, in any culture or traditions they have drum rhythm in their society.

And there are other kind of people when they hear a drum they will immediately put their fingers into their ears, because they cannot stand the drum spirit, it makes them uncomfortable. They are afraid of their own spirit and energy they have, so the sound that comes out of the drum remain them their spirit. Which goes into the body very strongly and he/she cannot control it. So the only thing the person can do is to confront this sound of the drum, and how you can confront drum spirit. The only way to do is to try and enjoy drum spirit and relax your own spirit when you are listening to drum and the drummer spirit.


There is also other kind of people, when they hear a drum sound, it makes them completely relax all over there body and they will come down to the earth. And let their body surrenders to the sound of the drum that they hear and they let the sound of the drum get into their body very deeply. It is a another way of drum healing, and the best way to get drum healing is, you have to lay down and close your eyes and let only the drum spirit go in to your body. But there are many ways to do drum healings. In Gambia some times you can see a person go into a trance, because he/she will let the spirit of the drum control he/her spirit the drummer and drum spirit

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:: The instruments of the tribes in Gambia

.: The Mandinka Tribe
Manding. Also know, as ”Mande” Manding are any of the people related as a cultural group who speak Mande-deroved languages. Manding people reside, generally, within Mali, SeneGambia, Cote d`Ivoire, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. These are the descendants of the founders and rulers of the Ghana, Mali, and Songhai empires that existed at least as early as the eighth century and lasted through about sixteenth century.
In the Mandinka tribe they have three drums, one play on sabaro (lead) drum, one on the kutiriba (bass), and one on the kutirinding (rhythm), but there are other instruments, which are acoustic instrument like Korra, Balanfong and Kontin

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.: The Fulla Tribe
Fulla tribe are origin from Guinea, they used instrument like Reetu, Wooden Flute, Calabash Fruit and they have a drum call (Fulla djembe). This drum is very special, first the skin they put on the carved trunk of a tree is antelope skin, because all the drums from other tribes are cow or goatskin, and the most intrusting thing of this drums too. You tune it with water. There is no drum in the hold country I no from other tribes you can tune with water. And one is bass sound and other one will be use as rhythm and lead drum.
Calabash: it is a fruit that grow in the feels and round in the shape like the watermelon, but the calabash frit have different sizes so when it get reap we divide in to two and clean it inside, it is one of the fruit that is use in homes, like when we kook food and is time for eating so we will put food inside of the calabash for eating and there is a calabash spoon too. But the Fulla tribe use it as an instrument to play on.
Reetu: is an instrument that is made of calabash fruit that is covert with skin and hare from a horsetail. It a violin instrument they have the same way of playing it and almost the same sound.
Flute: which is a wooding flute and have tree hold on the flute.
So the people playing the calabash fruit and the flute are the acrobatic dancing when they are performing.

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.: The Jolla Tribe
Jolla tribe comes from Senegambia and they are living between Gambia and Senegal, because before the European came to Africa this two country was one country. They are the only tribe I now in Gambia, when they have ceremony, they can keep this ceremony for some days. The Jolla tribe they love dancing and drumming, they have a drum call (Bukarabu). It is four drums together with different sounds. You have the super bass drum and got the rhythm, and you have one half rhythm and half bass and the bass drum. Is like when a person is playing four (congas): but they use also three drums some times, when they have small ceremonies, the drums the Mandingos tribe use.

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.: The Wolof Tribe
Wolof the dominant ethnic tribes of the nation of Senegambia in the West Africa. The Wolof states were the first to trade with sailing Europeans in the 1400s.
Wolof tribe they use four drums one for lead, one rhythm, one bass and one talking drum, and they call the music
(Sabarr) But most of time when the drummers are going to give a concert they always dub bull each of the drums except the lead drum.
Tarran bat. A drum have no hold at the bottom of the carved tree, this very special drum too, because the drums in the other tribes they have a hold under the carved tree and skin on top. But these drums don’t have had a hold under the carved tree. So when you play on it the sound comes out of the top, and is deep sound like bass and other one is light sound.
Tama.Is a wonderful drum, it have skin in the both sides, a tama player and the lead singer can exchange word together. Tama can bee use as a lead drum. It have skin in both side of the carved tree, you can play on only one side at a time. But you can always change sides and see which side sound good to play on.

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.: The Balanta tribe
Balantars are tribes form the Republic of Guinea Conakry: the Balantas have three drums: like the Mandinkas, and they use also other instruments when they are holding ceremonies. One of the instruments is the dub bull (Balafon) which well be play by two person one will play the bass and the other one is play the rhythm. And the other instrument is (Belongs) which are a three strings and a calabash with cow skin around the calabash fruit Belongs is sounded with super natural power, and it is a one-man instrument. Where the person will play drum on the calabash fruit that is covert with cow skin and the sound of the strings is like a bass guitar.

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.: A drum called Djembe
Djembe. The chalice-shaped drum found among the mande-speakning people of the West Africa. The carrying power of the djembes sound and the high energy it invokes in players and audiences make it an extremely popular hand drum.djembe goes back to the old Mali empire and has been spread by the trade and empire building of the Mande-people.Anthropologist and percussionist. But the tribe Djembe or Dun dun ba comes from are call (Susus) they are the tribe who sprat the drumming in the west Africa and they call it Ballet music, because when they are performing in a ceremony the drumming is open dancing like the other tribes, but the one they call Ballet Dancing which is not open for everyone, it is a drumming and dancing grup.which is moor professional, where they will have few men’s and woman’s to do the dancing and singing, at the same time they tell stories about the kings of the Mandin empire how they rule and how things where in that time, because those histories are not writing. It is moor oral history’s this ballet dancing groups perform these histories on their stage when they are having a concert. So the people can understand moor about the Mandin Empire.

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:: How to learn to play drum called Djembe
Drum is an instrument, which anyone can play it, and any-way you play on it with your hands you will always get a sound or rhythm out of it. You don’t have to be a professional drummer to get a rhythm out of the drum and any sound that comes out of the drum is great. Of course if one wants to become a professional drummer, then you have to learn how to play drums properly. Then you need to learn how to use your (hands) properly in different ways, and you have to train your (concentration). When you learn a rhythm you should try and remember it, and how to use your (breathing).
These three things are very important when you are learning to play drum properly or to come a good drummer.

.: How to exercise your concentration
The way to exercise your concentration is when you are playing a rhythm from a drum first of all. The rhythm you are playing you have to try and enjoy the sound that comes out of the drum you are playing, and you have to try and communicate with the drum to get the rhythm inside your body.

So you need full concentration, which mains you have to focus on only one thing, which is the drum you are playing and the sound that comes out of it. Because the sound that is coming out of the drum is the drum language, and the words that come out of the drum are the sound you hear when you are listening to it, or when you play on it.

Music is the international language, which mainly everyone can understand. So when you listen to it very carefully you will hear the word that comes out of it and with full concentration let the rhythm or the sound come inside your body and feel the sound that comes out of the drum, which will help you to enjoy the sound or rhythm you are playing. And when you star to enjoy the rhythm. That is a good thing, it mains that your body and the drum are communicating well which makes the person relaxed.

.: How to exercise your fingers
When you are a new beginner at playing drums you need to play a lot to exercise your fingers, because the fingers need to get used to playing the drum without feeling pain. When you started to play as a new beginner you feel lot of pain in your fingers when you are playing and instead of concentration on the sound or the rhythm you are playing, the pain in your fingers take some of your concentration.

So the way to train your fingers when you are playing a drum, the first thing to do, is you play at least one hour every day or moor, and try to play three times in a week. Which will help your fingers get used to playing the drum without feeling pain in your fingers. Because even I as a professional drummer if I don’t play very offend when I start to play a drum again in the beginning I will feel pain in my fingers before my body get warm and when my body get warm I don’t feel the pain anymore.

The technical side of how to use your fingers or hands there are three ways to use your hands when you are playing a drum. When you hit the drum with your whole hand in the middle of the drum you get the bass sound and when you hit the drum from where your fingertips up to where your fingers end then you get the rhythm sound and when you hit the drum with only your fingertips like when you are gripping, but this kind of gripping is called the open grip which gives you the highest sound from the drum.

So the best way to train your fingers or hands is that you don’t have to play a rhythm from a drum some times, but just try to hit the drum with one hand in those three different ways and listen to different within the sound that comes out of the drum, and when you are doing this training it is necessary to do it as long as you can. It can be boring not to play a rhythm when you are playing, but this is the only way to find the different sound of the drum and you can also manipulate the sound as you like. This is very important if you want to play as professional drummer.

.: How to exercise your breathing
Breathing is some thing too; you need to learn how to control it, because when you are playing a drum, you use lots of energy. So if you want to play for long time you need to economies your energy. If not you cannot play longer as you will like to do, as I mansion before a drum beat is the same as heard beat. That way when you are playing a drum you need to know how to balance your breathing to economies energy. So when you are playing a drum, it doesn’t matter where the rhythm is slow or fast you have to keep the spiritual energy and the tempo of the rhythm.

The way to exercise your breathing, In the slow rhythm you can control your breathing very easily and you can decide when you want to breath deep inside and out again. But on the fast rhythm you cannot control your breathing 100%. Because your hands move faster to close the gaps of the rhythm and the moor the gaps are close the moor faster the rhythm sound. When you are playing fast rhythm, you have to remember now you are using moor energy and your breathing will start to change, you will begin to breath little moor quicker and your plus will become high and your hand muscles also will started to pump up, generally your hold body become active

So when you started to change from slow to fast rhythm or fast to slow this is the time you have to use your breathing technique. As you know when you play fast rhythm you use lots of energy to keep the spiritual energy and the tempo of the rhythm going, so when the tempo of the rhythm come down to slow rhythm, the forts thing you have to remember is to breath very deep down inside your stomach and when you are breathing out, try to relax your shoulder and your hand muscles at the same time.

Some times you will fell a kind of stiffness on your hand muscles, when you play drums for two to three hour, because when you are play fast rhythm, is like you are doing half breathing. So you cannot breath deep down inside your stomach at the same time, until when you the rhythm comes to slow tempo. From there you can start to breath in and out easily, your body will begin to relax and your plus started to go down When you exercise this way of breathing. It will help you to relax your muscles and you can play drum for a long time without getting tired quickly when you are playing drum.

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