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Basic Drumming Strokes & Rhythms for Djembe

©Artdrum

Open Stroke with closed fingers:  The Open Stoke is also called the Open Tone.  It is played near the edge of the drum, about 2.5" to 4.5" from the drum rim, depending upon the length of your fingers.

The sound of the open tone occurs from your fingers should striking the head.  For the best singing Open Tone your fingers and hand needs to bounce up from the head immediately.  Bouncing up off the head allows the head to vibrate.  

Move at your elbow not at your shoulder.  

Let your forearm, wrist and hand fall with gravity. 

Cock your wrist back as your forearm falls to the drum head and snap your wrist forward as you strike the head; let your fingers and hand BOUNCE-up off the head.  

(On occasion there may be reason to not bounce up.  If you stop the hand on the head without bouncing up, then you will produce a stroke called the "Muffled Open Stroke".)  

The hands do NOT strike along the mid-line of the head. The left hand plays on the left side of the drum head; and the right hand plays on the right side of the drum head.  

When learning, it's fine to exaggerate the bouncing effect so to feel the movement.   You can practicing bouncing your hand all the way up to your eyes or just an inch or two above the drumhead.  

In general, when playing a fast rhythm you bounce lower and in playing slow rhythms you can increase the bounce.  The idea of bouncing off the drum is for the sake of getting the head to most vibrate.

Start by practicing mechanically; examine how gravity can take your hand down and how the natural trampoline effect of the tight drum head helps you to bounce up.  

Also examine your elbow and wrist moves; how your fingers stay together; and how your palm is slightly bent so your hand can almost cup the drum head.

Slap Stroke The Slap Stroke is also called the Slap Tone.  It is played higher on the drum head (closer to the center of the head) than the Open Tone.  Like the Open Tone the left hand plays on the left side of the drum head; and the right hand plays on the right side of the drum head. 

Practice playing the Slap with your fingers separated and also with your fingers together.  Sometimes you may prefer the sound with the fingers together and other times with them apart.

Move at your elbow not at your shoulder.  

Let your forearm, wrist and hand fall with gravity. 

Keep your wrist cocked back as your forearm falls to the drum head and snap your wrist forward as you strike the head; let your wrist cock back again immediately after your fingers strike and bounce up from the head. 

When learning the stroke let your forearm bounce up above the head about  6 - 12".

When learning, it's fine to exaggerate the bouncing effect so to feel the movement.   You can practicing bouncing your hand all the way up to your eyes or just an inch or two above the drumhead.  

In general, when playing a fast rhythm you bounce lower and in playing slow rhythms you can increase the bounce.  The idea of bouncing off the drum is for the sake of getting the head to most vibrate.

Start by practicing mechanically; examine how your elbow and wrist moves.  And how your fingers stay together.  UNLIKE the OPEN STROKE do not bend your palm slightly, rather keep your hand and fingers straight (though not stiff).

Bass Tone-Stroke: The bass stroke is played upon the center of the drum head.

Bend your palm slightly; your hand should be slightly rounded.  Keep your fingers together.

Move at your elbow not at your shoulder.  

Let your forearm, wrist and hand fall with gravity.

Let your forearm and wrist be in-line.  Do NOT bend or snap your wrist. 

When learning, it's fine to exaggerate the bouncing effect so to feel the movement.   You can practicing bouncing your hand all the way up to your eyes or just an inch or two above the drumhead.  

In general, when playing slow rhythms your bounce may become higher and when playing a fast rhythm your bounce will be lower, closer to the drum head.  The idea of bouncing off the drum is for the sake of getting the head to most vibrate.

If you hand is just slightly rounded, and you palm lands in the center your tuned drum head and smoothly and immediately it bounces up off the drum head, then you'll get a nice warm bass from your djembe.

Touch Tone Stroke - The touch stroke is often played on rests; it can help the drummer keep time and it keeps the drum head  vibrating.

 

African Rhythms

Rhythms

African Djembes

Percussion