Ethnic Drums

As An instrument Ethnic Drums has become very popular. They are also such a wide category containing sounds and rhythms from Africa and Latin countries. They tend to have the power to bring out the music in people often complementing our own natural rhythm. They liven ceremonies, events and entertain all over the world. The djembe drum , a member of the membranophone family of music instruments, seems to be very similar to many other drums across Africa, however it does have a few important differences that sets it apart from the others.

The djembe originates from the 12th century and may also be called the djembe, jembe, sanbanyi, jymbe or even the yembe. It is crafted from only one piece of wood that is then shaped like a goblet and hollow with a skin covering the top. Usually this top is made from goatskins because of the abundance of them it is also said that the goat skin are thick and tougher and has a great quality of sound. Over the past years the djembe drum has become the popular and sought after drum, inspiring other drum makers all around the world.

The Djembe drum can be tuned by evenly pulling the vertical ropes very tightly so that The drum is usually used for many festive events such as during full moon, harvest times, weddings and baptisms. At these events the drums are usually accompanied by various rhythmic dancing. The Bata drum, native to the Yoruba people of Nigeria, consists of three or five drums in a set that can either be played with hands or a stick. These drums are considered sacred and are often to prayed and sacrificed to.

These drums also play a very important part of Cuban culture, being that they were introduced when African slaves were brought to Cuba and can still be found in modern Cuban music such as jazz and timbal. The bougarabou comes from West Africa and still is most popular in those area. Originally the Bougarabou was made in a one set size and played with a stick or hands but recently it has been made in different sizes. The general shape of the Bougarabou drum is shaped like an hourglass and usually the player will wear jangling bracelets to add another element to the music.

The popular drum found in southern Africa is the Ashiko drum which has found its way to the America’s as well. These drums are, for the majority, extremely large and often played with the hands. These drums are either played in the upright position or laid on their side where the player then straddles them and play them. The talking drums of Africa are perhaps the most well-known. The term “talking drums” are given to these drums because they are specially crafted to have a pitch that makes them sound like the African language in their areas.

These drums come in many different sizes and usually shaped like an hourglass and almost always played with a stick. Unlike many of the other drums they are covered on both ends with a skin for a more unique sound. Another popular drum is the Conga drum named after the Congolaise of Africa which it originates. Over the years the conga has changed in fabrication. It was originally made from wood, complete with rawhide heads, and now it is made from fiberglass and plastic heads.

Instead of the heads being fastened to the drum by nails now it is bonded together through tuning lugs which can also be adjusted according to the tension. It is also made in three different head sizes, the Quinto, Conga & Tumbadora or Tumba. The Quinto is the high-pitched conga and also used by soloists. It is the “the singer of the band,” and used to make an accent such as sing, laugh & cry. The Conga is the mid-range and plays the three-part rhythms. It is the most independent of the three drums and is sometimes called the Segunda.

The Tumba, short for Tumbadara, is the low pitched drum and playus the low rhythms and it is also called the Salidor. When the Conga was first becoming popular Conga players would play one drum at a time forming groups where one person was an expert at his or her drum. However as the instrument began getting more and more popular players began to play two and three drums simultaneously. The Fulla djemebe is a drum native to Guinea and is extremely unique.

To begin with the drum is carved from a tree and then covered with antelope skin unlike any other drums with have coverings made from goats and cows. Another interesting thing is that it is tuned with water, making it the only drum in the region able to be tuned by water. Many people refer to African music as the rhythm of life. We can see how it has made a huge influence on music genres such as blues, jazz, pop and even gospel. Listeners can hear the various rhythms made by African drums and other instruments within the music.

Ethnic Drums also includes the category of latin drum which has a history complete with roots to Moorish and African cultures starting with the slave trade. During this time many of the drums were used to send signals and communicate with other people in other tribes. These drums were also used for recreation and entertainment. Moorish and African rhythms begin to spread in the Carribean during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, becoming a major part of Latin music’s structure even today.

These are some of the oldest musical instruments as well as they are perhaps the most simply structured. This could possibly explain why they are found around the world, and widely heard in Europe and Northern America as well as western songs. Some types include the bongo which is a small drum, there is also the Cajun that is mainly used for a snare effect. Both of these drums can be played with brushes and hand and it most cases they are on the floor during their play. Drummers also accessorize their drum sets with accent instruments such as cowbells and maracas.