e-book The Drum: A History

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As a life long drummer and huge fan of drum history, I want to thank Bart For bringing the Drum History Podcast to life. Drums and drummers have such a compelling history, but not enough people know the stories. Thank you Bart and I look forward to many more podcasts.

A New Contraption

Drum City Bob. I am an old timer having played for nearly 52 years. I love this pod cast! I have learned so much and really enjoy hearing Bart van der Zerbe leads the interview in an open and interesting manor keeping the listener engaged! Every drummer young and old can learn something from this podcast. As a retired band director and percussion instructor, this is a must for just pure reference. Super interesting material, even for a non-musician like me. This is interesting to me as the djembe in Africa and in America comes from the kitchens of Africa.

Bass drum - History

Most percussion instruments come from those outdoor African kitchens. Wood and metal make up the kitchen utensils and so it is with the djembe and dunun the bass drum of the dununba. Even as recently as the s, the djembe was not known beyond African music aficionados and those who grew up with the instrument.

European countries found the djembe before North America and it became more popular there. Now, Japan has risen to a country that has had a recent upswing in interest in djembe and traditional dance. And we can add China to that ever-growing list! I have been in Guinea when the Japanese elders were sent to find out what was the djembe all about and the dance and the culture of djembe. Was it tied to evil spirits? It was fascinating to me, that a country would send ambassadors and information gatherers before allowing their country to experience djembe and Guinean dance.

In today's musical world, the djembe is making its way into the global consciousness. More people than ever listen to world music, popularized greatly by the rapid spread of West African ballets and orchestras especially during the mid s. While it is hard to find a real djembe worth playing, built with the spirit of the wood, the skin and the maker it is worth the years necessary to invest in finding such a drum.

Very often, current djembe-style drums are not being made traditionally. Some argue that it is better to have a djembe style drum than to not have a drum at all. I personally feel due to experience that even though those drums may be more accessible , they do not usually find their way into the hands of good drummers. To play djembe means to stay true to the history of the djembe; That includes the traditions of magic, knowledge and an open heart.


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If one of those is absent, the music will not sound correct to village-people of the seeding countries of the djembe. As of today, many traditional rhythms and songs have been lost to the past and the spirits that once were. Many current djembe teachers and historians have made it their purpose to make sure the rhythms we currently know and are learning, not be forgotten. We owe it to the spirits of the past to learn their music.

If we just jam play stuff on the djembe, we will surely lower it's value as an instrument and one day, like a lost and forgotten child, it will be forgotten and die. When you play the djembe, it needs to speak in the music. If it doesn't speak, it is like you are saying nonsense with your voice.

When you learn how to make the drum talk the language of the people who even today play and sing with the djembe, it takes on a life of its own.


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The djembe can then share in the energy that comes from without and within. The djembe player is then not 'just' a drummer but a vessel through which the spirit of the djembe comes through. I sometimes say that the sound of the djembe is in the past, present and the future; That it is not really in us yet until the moment it quickly comes into consciousness thru the hands and into the world.

It is all at once!

: : Introduction

The drummer really doesn't own the sound and is certainly not the only one responsible for it. It comes from years of study with masters guiding your hands, fingers, arms, spine - your thinking and your spirit. That is the master's job. And it is not easy. When you align yourself with a master, you will stay with him for a long time and it is a bond that can touch you and should touch you at your innermost places.

The History of the Drum – Early History

If you have gone through this, you know. If you haven't I highly suggest this road BUT it is not easy and you may give up many other things in life to come to the knowledge and ability to make the djembe talk and sing. More djembe are built in Ghana, Bali and Thailand these days. The djembe has no history there. Some historians say that the djembe never really lived in those countries. Whether they were not born of those countries or not, they are able to export many more drums than the total of all the other djembe-seeding countries combined due to their industrial abilities and more westernized society.

History of the Drumset - Part 1 - 9

We feel strongly that for a djembe to be a djembe it should come from the seeding countries of origin: Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast. These five countries have the trees the djembe is made from and they sound like a djembe. No drum made in the Western World will have that sound or that spirit. You will hear and feel the difference, we promise you. If your heart and ears are open.

Please support African artisans and buy traditional djembe drums where much of the money will go back to pay the carvers. Thank you. And may the spirits that pass through the djembe speak to the spirt in you to help you on your way in life, love and happiness. Contents by Alan Tauber as learned over 35 years of studying the Mande music, drumming, dance, songs and being a visiting member of the Guinean culture.

If you use this info, and wish to state its source, it is through Alan Tauber from his many masters of the Mandeng Music over a 35 year period. There is much more to know and learn. Just because it is written doesn't make it so. Just because someone says it, doesn't make it real. Many people contact me and ask where did you get this? So, when you have been deeply involved in this music and culture for as long as I have, you make strong and loving connections with those people.

If you care, you open your ears, and you listen to every word and think about the implications and history. I tend to record a lot and then listen to the recordings. I don't ask a lot of questions as I feel it is not my place. I just listen on a 'need to know' basis.

History of Drums

Thanks to Kim Atkinson, CA for his support of this work and his wish for the source to be credited. I stopped adding to reviews for a while. Not much has changed except for the telling of people's stories. And we apprecite people Yelping or just sending us an experience you'd like to share. This is a great class taught by remarkable drummer and gifted teacher, Alan Tauber! You will feel supported and uplifted at the same time as you learn to play the hand drums with others who learn and play along with you!

A very, very special experience awaits all who take this class.