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 Bend Drum Circle - Learn 

All learning begins with the simple phrase, "I don't know."


Before drumming, make sure your hands are clean and remove all rings on your fingers to protect the drum (and your hands!).

A typical djembe drum is made from wood with a goat skin head, both products of nature. Some drummers take a moment before drumming to think about the gift of those materials. Respect the drum by not using it as a seat or table top.

Playing the Drum

The three basic sounds produced by the drum are called base, tone and slap. The base is the deep tone created by striking the center of the drum with the palm of the hand with the fingers together. The tone is a higher sound produced by striking the drum near the edge with the fingers together. The slap is an even higher, sharper sound created by striking the drum near the edge with the fingers apart.

See also: Djembe Technique.

Joining In

The drum circle is a community effort. It's about losing the me and becoming us. You don't need to be louder than anybody else. Or better. The most important thing is to listen and stay with the rhythm, or at least the beat. Watch the other players, especially the bass hits. If you've ever learned to dance, this is the same thing. Watch which hands are used, where they go, and when. It's just dancing with hands. And having fun!

Here's a fun, free Simon-says type drumming game: Bonobo's Bongos

The fool speaks, the wise man listens. - African proverb

Common Drum Circle Rhythms


In the rhythms below (from SHARE and other sources), the letters B, T and S stand for Bass, Tone and Slap. A dash - is a skipped beat. You don't need to learn all the parts, just one of the djembe parts for each rhythm.


Djembe b-tt--s-b-tt--s- * [MIDI] Djembe tt-stts-tt-stts- [MIDI] Djembe b--s-bs-b-ttt-s- [MIDI] Djembe b-b-ttt-b-b-tttt (Ryan) Djembe ssss-tt-ssss-tt- (Ryan) Bass S--D--S-S-----S- * Bell H--H--H-H-H-H-H- * Signal F-tt-t-tt-t-t--- hear it


Djembe b--s-bb-tt-b * [MIDI] Djembe s-st-ts-s--b * [MIDI] Bass D--S--D----D> > D--S-S-----D * Bell H-H--H--HH-- Signal t-ss-ts-st-s> > s-ts-stttt--


Djembe bt-tb-s-b-t-b-s- [MIDI] Djembe b--s-tt-b-s--tt- [MIDI] Djembe t--s---tt-s-s--t [MIDI] Djembe btt-bs-bt-bs- (Ryan) Djembe tttt-b-b- (Ryan) Djembe stt-stt-stt-stt (Ryan)


Djembe b-tts-bt-ts- [MIDI] Djembe b-b-b--s-ts-> [MIDI] > b---s--t-ts- [MIDI] Djembe s-tt-ss-tt-s [MIDI] Bass D-D-D--S-S--> > B---S--S-S-- Bell H-H-H-HH-HH- Signal rtttt-rtttt- hear it


Djembe bst-s-bs-bs- [MIDI] Djembe b--ts-b--ts- [MIDI] Djembe b-sbttb-sbtt [MIDI] Djembe bs-bs-bsts- (Ryan) Djembe btt-bs-btt-bs- (Ryan) Djembe bs-ttt-bs-tttt- (Ryan) Bass KK-p--KK-p-- Bass w--S--w--S-- Bass D---D-D----- Bell HH-HH-HH-HH- Signal rtttt-tt-t-- hear it