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How to Play the African Djembe Drum


Hey there, rhythm enthusiasts and music lovers! Have you ever been captivated by the infectious beats and tribal vibes of the African djembe drum? Well, you’re in for a treat. In this video, we’ll dive deep into the Kassa djembe – a traditional handcrafted drum from West Africa.

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Steps on How to Play the African Djembe Drum

Kassa originated from Guinea, West Africa, from the Malinke people. Many Malinke people have Kassa and have different ways of playing it. 

The rhythm is traditionally used to inspire agricultural workers in the field while planting, weeding, or harvesting their crops. Let’s dive into the steps on how to play it. 

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Step 1: Positioning 

Sit on a chair or stool and place the djembe drum in between your legs. Ensure that the drum is stable and balanced. Your posture should be comfortable, with a straight back and relaxed shoulders.

Step 2: Playing the Base Tone (pre-bit pit a pat Appa!). 

To make this sound, you’ll first need to use the whole bottom sides of your hand, including your palm and fingers. Ensure to keep your hand flat and hit the drum a little off the middle. 

Step 3: Playing the Kassa Compliment (slap slap mess, ahh slap slap)

Start with your right hand:

  • Hold your hand in a relaxed, slightly cupped shape.
  • Use your right fingertips to strike the drum’s surface twice rapidly. These are the two slaps.

Transition to your left hand:

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  • After the double slap with your right hand, bring your left hand down and strike the drum’s surface with your palm. This is the “mess” sound.

Finish with your right hand:

  • Following the left-hand slap, bring your right hand down and strike the drum with your palm again. This is the final slap.

The djembe has cultural significance to West African communities. Learning about the history and traditions associated with the djembe can enhance your appreciation for the instrument. You can get a book on Amazon to learn more about how to play it.

The video on how to play the African djembe drum is courtesy of Djembe Guru YouTube Channel. This Channel is dedicated to helping people learn drumming and dancing. 

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Uchenna Agwu
Uchenna Agwu
Hi there! I’m Uchenna Agwu, and I love to write. When I’m not writing, you can usually find me reading books or watching documentaries (I’m a bit of a nerd). But I also like to get out and explore – whether that means going on hikes or checking out new restaurants.


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