Talk:Djembe

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Size[edit]

I have a full size djembe, constructed in the traditional way. The shell was carved in Guinea, and the goat skin came from the Ivory coast. I also have a 3/4 size djembe; both the shell and goat skin came from Guinea. I made these at drum-making workshops. I'll take photos and change the photos in the article. Bruce 22:25, Sep 12, 2004 (UTC)

[comment deleted by user]
Loosely defined, any of these drums can be called a djembe because of the shape and construction. However, anything smaller than about 12" will generally not produce the range of sounds that a "real" djembe can. This is an important distinction -- the djembe is traditionally used in an ensemble, and occupies a certain part of the melodic line in a song, so a player of traditional music must be able to play in that range. The djembe has become so popular that it is used in many ways that are out of the traditional context, so these smaller drums can fit in many other places.
I am a musician and have played with West Africans since the mid 80's, and have bought, sold, and otherwise interacted with dozens of djembe drums in that time. Nearly every one of them was between 24 and 25" tall, and between 11 and 14" across the top. This is pretty standard. I don't think there's any point in disparaging the size of another guy's drum, but for the purposes of the article, if "size matters" to the definition, I'd say that's what should be used.
The smaller drums that are being produced these days are mostly made for tourists, and many africans make them for the huge U.S. market. At lest the bodies of the drums pictured probably originated in Senegal. Just like any other instrument, some djembes are considered better than others by musicians. Those produced in Guinea, Mali, and Ivory Coast top the list, while those from Ghana and Senegal are not considered as good. Of course, there are exceptions - good and bad drums are made in all of these places, but the djembe is not native to either Senegal or Ghana -- they got into the game later on. I play with som Ghanaians now, and they use djembes from Ivory Coast, not Ghana. (It's also important to note that the way these modern countries are divided up bears little relation to the cultures and ethnic groups that originated the drums.)
I changed the disputed paragraph so it would be more NPOV. I made it clear that traditional djembes are twelve inches and the djembes pictured are not full sized. I think the pictures are fine. I mean, they still look like djembes.
Ccj

I edited the section to specify the most common size ranges (12-15 in diameter and 23-25 in high). That captures 99% of all djembes that are used for "real" music, traditionally or contemporary. The range excludes toys and oversized djembes that are created for their curiosity value. MichiHenning (talk) 02:02, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

Adding and external link[edit]

I would like to add an external link to my site www.djembefola.com, but it would be preferable if someone else were to deem it appropriate and add the link.

We hope to help connect djembe players around the world, facilitating learning from each other and to help those eager to learn but have no access to teachers.

We also provide learning reseurces, such as articles and videos for those interested in learning djembe and related instruments. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Djembefola (talkcontribs)

Wikipedia's "external links" sections are for additional reference information, not for directing users to non-reference resources or related communities. You might consider submitting the link to the Open Directory Project at http://dmoz.org instead. — Saxifrage 18:33, 20 October 2006 (UTC)

Replacing Picture[edit]

The picture in the upper right hand corner shows a traditional djembe, which is in fact quite basic. The djembe does not have a wrap on it, which is present in many high-quality, authentic, traditional djembes.

Would anyone mind if I replaced this with a picture of an authentic, West African djembe? This would be done in order to give the reader a better idea of what a high-quality, authentic, traditional djembe looks like. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Dougtremblay (talkcontribs) 05:49, 4 April 2007 (UTC).

Sounds like a good idea. The Original picture could be put further down the page.Freddythehat 07:20, 4 April 2007 (UTC)

A picture of a djembe with a rope-wrap would be inappropriate because the rope-wrap hides the traditional Mali weave pattern used to tune the drum. Furthermore, it has nothing to do with the quality of a drum, rather it is an aesthetic effect which has only been added to djembes in the last 10 years or so, which is very recent when one takes into account the antiquity of the djembe (around 2 millenia, according to the article).60.242.19.59 13:35, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm not sure who deleted the excellent image that I saw only a couple of weeks ago. Now all that exists is a very basic student djembe. If the image is to be replaced, I agree it should be a good quality djembe but without a rope-wrap or other accoutrements.60.242.19.59 13:42, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Nice picture! I think a picture of the mali weave down by the section on tuning would be helpful to the uninformed reader. What do you think? Gkokaisel 03:17, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

That doesn't look like Lengue (Lenke) wood. It looks exactly like Khadi (Hare). —Preceding unsigned comment added by 184.252.134.185 (talk) 00:49, 28 December 2010 (UTC)

Yes, that's almost certainly Khadi/Hare/Gueni, and it is definitely not Lenke. MichiHenning (talk) 22:28, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

A [better image] might be the one from the German Wikepedia. It clearly shows the rope work instead of hiding it with a skin flap. It also is a genuine traditional style shell, without the excessive carving that has become popular in recent years. In other words, it's a more typical and illustrative example, in my opinion. MichiHenning (talk) 05:03, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

External Link Ad/ Body Content[edit]

I believe a much needed addition to the external links section, or even added content into the main body, would be reference material on selecting wooden shell djembe drums that are manufactured using legally certified timber that is environmentally sustainable and the importance of doing so. In today’s age of worldwide deforestation and global warming it’s important for people to understand that their buying decision could be contributing to unhealthy environmental ramifications. Unfortunately, there are many drums being imported into this country that are made using timber that was harvested illegally. We should all be made aware of the differences and knowing the right questions to ask is part of the solution.

unsigned comment added by Nscommission (talkcontribs) 20:02, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

I don't think any such addition belongs on this page. For one, quite a lot of people simply don't care about sustainability. Whether that is right or wrong, it is not the job of a Wikipedia page to try and educate them on the subject, seeing that the title of this page is "Djembe", not "Sustainable timber harvest". Second, it is essentially impossible for a buyer to have any certainty about the true origin of a particular shell. The relevant certification processes and documentation trails do not exist, so the purchaser, at best, can take the word of the retailer, who can make up anything they like. Third, djembes, in the grand scheme of things, don't contribute to deforestation; for an analysis of the scale of things, see [article]. MichiHenning (talk) 21:49, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

Red "see also" links[edit]

These links were in the see also section, but have no articles. Aleta (Sing) 04:54, 24 December 2007 (UTC)

external links to commercial sites[edit]

Does anyone know the wikipedia rule for external links to comercial sites? User [Wwdrums] has reverted the deletion of a comercial external link at least 6 times in the past few months. If this is ok then I'll let it go but I don't think it is.-Crunchy Numbers (talk) 19:23, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

Etymology?[edit]

The explanation of the name by native informants appears to be a "folk etymology". Perhaps this should be indicated? Or should we mark it as "needs attention from an expert on the subject"? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rulatir (talkcontribs) 20:25, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

"also known as jembe, jenbe, jymbe, yembe, or jimbay"

These are not alternative names, but different spellings, meaning that presenting this information in the very first sentence is probably inappropriate. Currently, there is also a para on spelling in the Origin section. The information there and the alternate spellings presented in the first sentence should be combined and presented further down the page. Not sure whether spelling deserves a section of its own though. Maybe this could be placed at the end of the introduction? MichiHenning (talk) 07:16, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

drum names[edit]

The D’jembe drums are also called: D’jimbe, Jenbe, Jymbe, Jembe, Yembe or Jimbay, but in Susu they call it Sanbanyi. They named this drum D’jembe because, according to the Bamana people in Mali, the name D’jembe comes from the phrase “Anke dje, anke be” translates to “everybody gather together” so that means in the language Bamanakan (the Bamana’s language) the dje at the beginning of D’jembe means gather and the be at the end of D’jembe means everyone so D’jembe = gather everyone. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 91.104.91.175 (talk) 18:35, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Sanbanyi is not a term commonly used. In nearly a decade of studying the djembe, reading everything in existence about it, and having spent months of time studying in West Africa, I have never encounterd the term (not even once). None of the articles and books in the citations mention the term either, so it seems clear that it is not in common (or even uncommon) use. I've removed it from the list of names. MichiHenning (talk) 23:11, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Western Music Section - List of Artists[edit]

This list of artists is a mess. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to fix it? I think most of the artist examples need to be removed, unless the band/artist features the djembe it seems like it would be more useful to the reader to provide specific examples of songs that feature the djembe. Thoughts? Xixtas (talk) 16:45, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

I agree. The entire section could be compressed into two or three sentences. There is no point in listing dozens of bands more or less at random. Two or three examples would be enough, preferably for cases where the djembe features prominently in a song.

The mention of "The Visitor" does not belong here, IMO. I like the movie, but the djembe only makes a cameo appearance in it and is not relevant to main theme of the movie (illegal immigration). The same movie could have been made without a djembe ever appearing at all.

I think it's fair to mention drum circles because the djembe is indeed the most popular and widely used drum circle instrument. However, it's not clear to me whether, after compressing the section and removing the irrelevant material, there will be enough material left to warrant a separate section.

It is also questionable whether someone who looks up the meaning of "djembe" would be interested in knowing about its use in western music. More likely, they'd be interested in the djembe in its traditional use. (It is nothing remarkable that the djembe has been used in western music. Virtually every ethnic instrument in the world has been co-opted by some western band or another.)

On balance, it seems that it would be best to delete section in its entirety. MichiHenning (talk) 22:15, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

List of djembe dummers[edit]

The list is entirely too long with no references or indication of notability for most of the drummers. I am moving all of the redlinked ones here. Individuals can be moved back into the article's list if it can be shown that there is a reason for inclusion. LadyofShalott 17:29, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

List of djembe drummers[edit]

I have added Fadouba Oularé to the list of djembe drummers as he was one the great Guinean djembe folas of the post collonial era. He was the first soloist with Les Ballets Africains in 1959, only later relinquishing his place to Famadou Konate in 1965. He also founded ballet Djoliba which recruited Mamady Keita. He surely desrves his own page, especially since he died last January.

Adama Drame, Thomas Guei, Ibrahima 'Boka' Camara and several others on the above list are highly respected djembe folas.

I do understand, though, that it will be difficult to stop everybody adding their teacher to this list. Maybe the title of the section should be changed. Djembeweaver (talk) 10:26, 19 February 2011 (UTC)

Also Babatunde Olatunji was not a djembe fola, though he was an iconic west african percussionist (largely due to the fact that he was one of the first to teach in America). I think this section should be removed as it will proove to be unmanageable. Djembeweaver (talk) 17:06, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

Adding red links to this section is not useful because they tell the reader nothing. If you feel that djembefola X should be on this list, please create an article about that djembefola first, and then link to that article from here. --MichiHenning (talk) 06:39, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

Key Tuning[edit]

Ok, obviously anyone who knows a bit about djembe will know that any old factory made Remo lug djembe isn't exactly proper, but seeing as these are what many people new to the instrument might see as good for their simplicity, or what have you, I feel that the Tuning section should be split into Key and Rope. Perhaps the key tuning section could, in addition explaining the tuning method, mention what makes it different from/functionally inferior to rope tuning. On an unrelated note, there are certain parts of the article that seem to lack encyclopedic tone (e.g. "too many jazz bands to mention.") Also, I think the first sentence under Origin qualifies for "weasel words". I'm not exactly a Wikipedia editor, though, so I'll leave it up to someone who isn't going to have his edits reverted. 72.209.197.236 (talk) 01:09, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

My view, and that of most students and teachers of traditional west african djembe, is that these drums you are talking about are not djembes. It is true that these types of drums from remo (and other manufacturers) roughly duplicate the goblet shape of a traditional djembe that creates a helmholtz resonater. However, the same is true of many other types of drum (e.g. darabouka) which are not djembes. In every other respect they are completely different: they are made from different materials (i.e plastic) and as a result have totally different sounds.

For this reason I not believe that factory made plastic 'djembes' have any place on this page.

Even if you do consider these drums to be djembes it would still be pointless to add a section on key tuning for the following reasons: Firstly tuning a drum with keys is as simple as tightening wheel nuts - you just turn the keys a bit at a time working on opposite keys in turn. Secondly you can look up key tuning easily - congas use exactly the same system. In contrast to key tuning, traditional djembe rope-work is a complex system on which there is little existing literature. That's why it deserves a place in the article. Djembeweaver (talk) 11:06, 2 May 2011 (UTC)

Hmmm... Djembes with a key tuning system wouldn't be called "djembe" by anyone with traditional training. Also, I don't think that a key tuning system is intrinsically superior to a rope tuning system. If I were to fit a key tuning system to a traditional shell, I believe it would sound exactly the same. The point of the tuning system is to tension the skin evenly. Both systems do that. It doesn't matter to the sound how the skin is tensioned.

I agree that factory made plastic djembes don't have a place on this page. For the same reason, key tuning doesn't either, IMO, because the only djembes with key tuning I've ever seen are factory made plastic djembes. MichiHenning (talk) 00:22, 1 December 2011 (UTC)

Notable? djembe drummers[edit]

Not everyone who ever plays the djembe is notable. The following people were listed in the article as djembe players, but have not been shown to be notable. If/when someone is shown to be notable enough for an article, the name can be moved back into the article. LadyofShalott 22:52, 23 October 2011 (UTC)

Quite a few of these are definitely notable, including Fadouba Oulare (one of the grand masters), Ibrahima Sarr, Sega Sidibe, M'bemba Bangoura, Mansa Camio, and Fode Bangoura.

The question is who (if any) of these people should be included, especially if there is no further information about them. At the very least, each name should have a citation; a separate Wikipedia article would be better. MichiHenning (talk) 23:16, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

I removed Moussa Traoré (Mali) because the linked-to person is the wrong Moussa Traoré (a military guy, not a musician). It is doubtful whether the correct Moussa merits inclusion. MichiHenning (talk) 23:33, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Irrelevant content in Origin section[edit]

The construction of the djembe has changed significantly over the past half-century. The use of industrialized materials, such as steel hoops, nylon-core rope, and rubber tires, began with the advent of the West African Ballets, and has become the norm. As djembes are increasingly exported to foreign shores, some take advantage of overseas markets by cutting corners, while others push further development and refinement of djembe construction. In the mid 1990s furniture makers in Ghana took note of the commercial success being experienced by traditional djembe drum carvers. The craftspeople in Ghana, where the kpanlogo and oblenten drums are the most well known traditional drums, began to carve and sell djembes from Tweneboa, a soft wood. Using soft wood required a much thicker shell that fails to produce the resonant and explosive sound of a hardwood djembe.

All of this is irrelevant, except maybe the first two sentences. The rant about djembes made in Ghana, low-quality djembes, etc doesn't belong here. If anything, the paragraph should explain how the construction was done prior to the modern method. MichiHenning (talk) 23:22, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Sound clip[edit]

The caption on the sound clip "Djembe pattern" is probably inappropriate, especially since the term is not used or explained elsewhere on the page. The uninformed reader does not know that djembes play accompaniment and solo parts, and that the accompaniments play a repeating pattern. A better caption would probably be "Djembe accompaniment", together with a mention of that term in the body of the article.

The sound clip is nice, but has several problems, IMO:

  • The drum in the clip is tuned quite low, effectively a bass djembe. A more representative sample would use an accompaniment djembe with medium pitch (neither bass nor solo pitch)
  • The pattern in the clip is not a traditional pattern but a modern invention. A traditional pattern might be more appropriate.
  • There is no call in or out of the rhythm.

A more representative sound clip should present a traditional accompaniment, such as binary passport. The problem with this is that it doesn't include a bass note. The other obvious option would be to use the Malian version of ternary passport:

1..2..3..4..
s.ts.bs.ts.b

This would illustrate all three basic sounds and also be a typical and traditional accompaniment pattern. The standard Soli/Konden/Mamaya call could be used to start and end the clip. — Preceding unsigned comment added by MichiHenning (talkcontribs) 23:00, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

A better example might be a binary pattern, such as "passport with a bass":

1...2...3...4...
s..ss.tts.bss.tt

This illustrates the three basic sounds and is easier to feel and listen to for the non-initiated than a ternary accompaniment.

The sound clip does not belong in the Origin section. If anywhere, it belongs in the Technique section. MichiHenning (talk) 22:37, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

It would be nice to include a sound clip that demonstrates polyrhythm. Have two or three differently pitched djembes playing a different part each, first separately, and then together (with staggered entry), so people can follow how the melody emerges from the polyrhythm. MichiHenning (talk) 02:15, 27 January 2012 (UTC)

Nomenclature[edit]

The term "djembefola" should probably be mentioned in the article. A link to the Djembefola documentary on imdb.com would also be appropriate because this documentary is probably the most significant cause of the rise in popularity of the djembe during the nineties. MichiHenning (talk) 23:38, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Western Music section, image[edit]

The comment on the image is wrong. That person is not wearing Kente cloth, but something else. Kente cloth is patterned differently.

Even if it were Kente cloth, I do not see the relevance. Kente cloth originates with the Akan people in Ghana, which have nothing to do with the Malinke.

The image otherwise does not add any value. There is nothing interesting or relevant about two people sitting in a park playing djembe.

I believe the image should be removed. MichiHenning (talk) 21:44, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Spelling variants[edit]

Why do we have the information on spelling variants? It seems irrelevant to explain the finer points of spelling (djembe vs jembe). The remark about the cultural (in)sensitivity of the spelling with "dj" also seems irrelevant.

Regardless of whether to preserve this or not, why is this information in the Origin section? It certainly does not belong there. MichiHenning (talk) 02:06, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

Tuning[edit]

The explanation of how to fit a skin does not belong in the Tuning section.

As an explanation of how to really fit a skin, it is woefully in adequate. It is questionable whether heading techniques should be mentioned at all. There are dozens of ways of doing it, most of which work, and none of which seem relevant to someone who looks up the term "Djembe" on Wikipedia.

It would probably best to remove this remark. MichiHenning (talk) 02:31, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

Further reading[edit]

Some links in the further reading section seem inappropriate.

  • The Healing Drum is mostly autobiographical and not written by a notable djembe player. There is lots about the philosophy and spiritual aspects of drumming in the book (as well as quite controversial views on women and drumming), but little that is specific to the djembe or that someone wanting to learn about the djembe would find interesting. [Edited to add: Oops, sorry, I confused this with Sule Greg Wilson's book "The Drummer's Path", so ignore this bit.]
  • The Drum with a Thousand Faces article contains too little information to be considered further reading. (Most of what is in that article is already present here.)
  • Teach the Children is cute, but has zero relevance to the topic of this page and will not inform a reader more about the djembe.

I believe that these three links should be removed because the are not relevant. MichiHenning (talk) 04:12, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

Selected recordings[edit]

I think it would be useful to add a "Selected recordings" section that lists few hallmark recordings. The list should be short, no more than five titles, I think.

I'm thinking of adding Famoudou Konate's "Rhythmen der Malinke", because that is the hallmark recording of the traditional style, and still considered one of the best djembe CDs in existence.

I'm also thinking of adding the self-titled "Les Ballets Africains" CD from 1990 because that is an outstanding example of ballet style, and from the historically most significant ballet company.

Finally, I'm thinking of adding "The Art Of Jenbe Drumming: The Mali Tradition Vol. 1" because that is the most prototypical example of the Malian village style I am aware of.

I'm looking for suggestions for one or two more CDs of similar calibre and historical significance.

I deliberately did not include any of Mamady's CDs (no disrespect to Mamady) because there are many CDs of similar style around from other masters, and I don't want to get into arguments about who is the best or most deserving.

What I'm looking for are hallmark CDs that contribute something unique and of historical significance that is not already presented by three I listed. MichiHenning (talk) 04:24, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

Notation[edit]

The article by Polak about Feel as Meter should probably referenced from the Study section, rather than appear as further reading, together with a short discussion on notation systems and their inadequacies. Same for his 2005 article "A Musical Instrument Travels around the World" and Frieedberg's radio interview with Famoudou.

This would get rid of the further reading section altogether. — Preceding unsigned comment added by MichiHenning (talkcontribs) 04:42, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

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