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Djembe facts from Drumculture West Africa


Djembe facts from the Drumculture Music School in The Gambia. Want to know about African drumming? Many facts about the drum.

There are many djembe facts; what follows are just a few. The djembe is a type of drum that originates from West Africa. It is a very basic instrument, consisting of a wooden shell with a treated animal skin pulled taut over it and tensioned with a system of ropes.

The Djembe Wood Facts

The djembe can be made from a variety of different woods but the best woods are hardwood. The following names are taken from those used in West Africa but regional names may vary:

  • Lenge
  • Harre
  • Bush Mango

Djembe Skin Facts

The djembe is usually skinned with either goat skin (usually from the female goat because it is tougher) or cow skin. Goat skin gives a lighter, sharper and higher-pitched sound, cowskin gives a deeper, more resonant sound.

Djembe Tuning facts

The djembe is tuned using a system of ropes. The best rope is pre-stretched polypropylene with a diameter of about 8mm.

Miscellaneous Djembe Facts

  • If the neck of the drum shell is too narrow, you will never good a good bass sound from the drum.
  • A well-tuned cowskin djembe can be made to sound like a goatskin djembe.
  • A djembe skin can last anything from 1 month to several years. It depends on how much the drum is played and how much the skin is tensioned.
  • A djembe drum group will usually consist of about 8 players; 3 playing bass drums, 6 djembe accompanists and 2 solo players.
  • The main purpose of the djembe is to provide music for dancing.


djembe facts, shaving the skin
djembe facts preparing the rope tensioning system
djembe facts the drum
Shaving the skin
Applying the Roping System
A finished professional djembe
drum and dance school