The Djembe is an African drum instrument of the Mandingo people that dates back to the 12th century when it was played in the great Mali Empire.It is undoubtedly one of the most known African instruments but also one of the most powerful drums.
It is known to be used in various rituals in particular by the griots for storytelling and by many in general for communication, for traditional healing (it is also known as the healing drum), and for traditional ceremonies including rites of passage, ancestors worshipping and warrior rituals.
Their body is made from a piece of hand-carved wood (generally Iroca wood), covered with thin but toughened goat skin (or “Yala”) and strung using a high-strength pre-tensioned rope along with custom made solid steel hoops. They generally come with custom covers to protect them. It is the skin, which beaten at different paces with the hands in various rhythms, produces a wide range of tones. It is also that skin that requires repairs when it looses its tension, in order to keep in tune.
Djembé drums vary in size and different ones would be of more appropriate for solo performance, or more practical for beginners. It is therefore to chose the appropriate one.
On the 5th May 2010 in Manchester, UK, as part of the Cultural Collage World Music Festival, Sidiki Dembele drummed our breath away with his fantastic mastering of the Djembé. You will be able to hear and see the djembé performed by a true master by just pressing play below.