The word djembe loosely translates to “everyone gather together in peace.” — “Djedje” meaning gather, “be” meaning peace. With a wooden body in the shape of a large goblet, and a drumhead most commonly made from high-quality goatskin hide, this drum style originated in West Africa and is meant to be played with bare hands.
Traditionally, this style is used for a drum circle gathering which is often accompanied by dancing.
The music of a drum circle has its own language, featuring three distinct sounds:
Slap — High Range
Tone — Middle Range
Bass — Low Range
The three types of sounds are mixed into repeating hand patterns which form one layer of sound in a song. Drum songs are created by layering rather simple rhythm patterns on top of one another, creating a sophisticated, lively, syncopated sound. There are specific drum songs in each culture which are danced to, and which have ritual or other meanings, related to things like harvest or courtship.
Mechanics of the Instrument
The djembe drum is tuned by tightening or loosening the strings, and has the widest range of sounds, making it the most versatile member of the circle . There is one master drummer in the group who communicates changes in tempo and rhythm with the lead dancer and the rest of the group.
Handmade in Burkina Faso
The Artelier Formation et de Promotion des Artisans has been working with Ten Thousand Villages since 1996, helping promote sustainable employment for artisans while keeping traditional crafting methods alive.
Give it a try
Although drum circles took place primarily in ceremonial contexts for ancient cultures, they may apply to our modern lifestyle in the context of wellness. It has been argued that taking part in a drum circle may actually have a positive impact on your health. There are several factors contributing to this effect:
— The movement of beating a drum can burn a surprising amount of calories
— As a social activity, drum circles promote mental and spiritual health. as a social activity, and also
— The rhythm mimics that of the heart, creating an settling effect on the body that might not be noticed in the moment, but can help reduce feelings of anxiousness or depression and promote a sense of general well-being.
— There is a unique satisfaction to in the act of musical expression.
— When the body is healthy and happy, so is the soul.
Start a drum circle in your community!
The Djembe drum is the first step towards a full circle. Get started today.