African Drumming

Posted on the June 23rd, 2014 under Friends by Laurence Pharoah

The-Importance-of-Drums-in-African-TraditionThe ‘Drum’ is the oldest and the most widely used instrument of the human existence. Western Cultures associate the use of drumming with Entertainment and adding the Backbone to a piece of music. African Drumming has strong spiritual and historical meanings in its origin. All aspects of African life incorporate Drums showing the diversity and importance of Rhythm in African Lifestyle.

African Drumming has an intense use of Polyrhythmic patterns played in succession with a strong underlying rhythm base. Drum Circles usually consist from 2-3 drummers with one lead or master drummer. The lead drummer sets the pattern for the ensemble to play changing the pattern “add-lib.” Call And Response is a technique also used in African drumming where the lead will call a rhythm to be answered or responded by the rest of the Drum Circle. In this Style of Playing no single drum is to stand out or to lead in a song.

Possibly the most simple and most common type of African Drum is the “Djembe”, which is played with both bare hands. Dating back as far as 500 A.D, the Djembe was mainly used in Western Tribes in Africa. Playing The Djembe was not restricted to who could play it as it was considered to be a communal event where tribal members would clap and sing to the Rhythms of the Djembe. Purposes for this Instrument range from events such as healing ceremonies, rites of passage, ancestral worship, and warrior rituals. The Rhythmic patterns played by the Djembe are usually during a variety of night time celebrations of birth, marriage, baptisms and the change of season.

West African Drums – senegal

As Drumming played a big part in African Lifestyle the Talking Drum was a used as a form of communication over long distances. In reality it was a primitive Telephone and not used as a musical instrument. This Drum was played with hands and fingers on the bottom skin and a wooden stick on the top skin. Using the fingers to bend the bottom skin, to change the tone of the drum, was used to replicate the tones of voice when communicating via vocal interaction. There are also a number of different types of African Drums, such as African Bongos, the Dun Dun Drum, Ngoma Drums and the Itotele. These Drums all range in sizes, purposes and sounds to suit their place within African Culture and Society.

dugura-djembe-drumAll Genres in Western World Music from Jazz to Pop Culture dabble and incorporate parts of African Percussion when referring to song structure and feel. When you think of Early Rock Bands like Toto, with drummers like Jeff Porcaro and Simon Phillips, you often characterise their playing as having an element of African Percussiveness in Style. In 2014 we reference the Hip-Hop Artists on Pop charts mimicking Rhythms and Instrumentation from African Drumming. As people we feel emotion and we are able to express our emotions through communication. Throughout African Hand Drumming History feeling and emotion are expressed by using tone differences, dynamic layering and Rhythmical Complexities. You hear this in much of Alternative- Acoustic music blended with European stringed instruments. These musical characteristics are present across many styles of music today but are not generally powered by a percussion based background as African Drumming.

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African Drumming
Article Name
African Drumming
The ‘Drum’ is the oldest and the most widely used instrument of the human existence. Western Cultures associate the use of drumming with Entertainment and adding the Backbone to a piece of music.

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