Facts about African drums

By | April 7, 2021


There are many types of traditional African drums. Among the most famous are the talking drums in West Africa. These drums get their name from the range of tones that can be retrieved from them by manipulating the stitches downwards and sharpening the head. The Bougarabou drum is a set of drums. They have elongated shapes and are usually played in sets of three to four drums. Djembe is another famous type of African drum. Played with his hands and shaped like a goblet, the djembe comes from the Bamana people of Mali. Other types include water drums, ngoma drums, Kutiro and more.


Traditional African drums served as musical instruments, objects for ceremony and as a method of communication. Some drums were a part of everyday life and others had special significance – giving power to its owner or created to honor ancestors. In many cases, the traditional African drums are linked to spiritual pursuits and medical purposes. The drums also had roles in ceremonies, such as births, weddings, funerals and festivals. Today, drums continue to be used in African life. They are played at baptisms, weddings, festivals and dances all over the world.


Making traditional African drums is a craft that often goes down through families and among some cultures it is a hereditary job. The scales of the drums are usually made of deciduous trees, such as alder, oak, maple or mahogany. The type of wood used to make the drum determines a lot about the result of the final instrument and its sound. Drum skins were generally made from animals such as goats or cows.


From culture to culture, playing traditional African drums varies. In some tribes, only those who are hereditary to be drummers are allowed to play instruments, while among other peoples drums were the only instruments that could be played by anyone in the village. The drummer was often believed to have been possessed by the spirits of the drum – the skin of the drummer, the animal, which was taken in the drum and the tree from which the wood came for the shell of the drum.


Specific rhythms are often used in the playing of the traditional African drums. In West Africa, the traditional rhythms are polyrhythms that bring together up to seven different parts to create a rhythm. Singing and dancing often follow them The names of different rhythms include Kakilambe, Liberte, Soko, Soca, Diagbe, Fankani, Abondon and Tiriba. The rhythm was passed down from generation to generation through oral tradition. There is a movement now to record the traditional rhythms in writing to ensure their preservation. The drum was a heartbeat in daily life among many indigenous cultures, including the Indians on the African continent. The many different variations of the traditional drums were used for daily needs and for ceremony, religion and special events. Legend and folklore followed the drums and their role among the many tribes of Africa.