African Drums

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October 6, 2012
The Message of African Drums
In the African culture, music is a part of daily life. It is used to convey news, to teach, to tell stories, and for religious purposes. The variety of musical instruments is as diverse as their culture, but the most important musical instrument to the African people is the drum. The djembe is the most famous African drum. It is made from goatskin and shaped like a large goblet. The djembe is made to be played with bare hands. Use of the djembe dates back to the Mali Empire(the dominant political unit in West Africa from the thirteenth to fifteenth century). Its people, the Malinke and the Susu, used it during the celebration of sacred and secular events. The djembe's most famous use is by the region's West African hybrid of historians and musicians who accompany their tales with music, particularly about the founder of the Mali Empire. The djembe eventually spread throughout West Africa and starting in the 1950s, it spread to other parts of the world due to the world tours of a group called Les Ballets Africains. The group was led by a Guinean musician names Fodeba Keita. A member of the group, Ladji Camara, went to the United States in the 1960s and began to teach the American people how to play the djembe. Another member, Famoudou Konate, formed his own group in Europe in 1987, called the Famoudou Konate Ensemble. Another famous African drum is known as the talking drum. Named because its pitch can be altered to mimic language tonality. The talking drum originated among the Yoruba people, who mainly live in present-day Nigeria. In ancient times, the talking drum was used for a variety of purposes including being a musical instrument during celebrations, a sort of telegram for relaying messages Allen 2

during times of war, or to announce the arrival of a visitor. The talking drum is an hourglass shaped drum with a strap over one shoulder, while tucked underneath the other. It is played with a curved beater....
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