The African Djembe Brings Everyone Together By Kremena Krumova


The Epoch Times
Epoch Times Staff
Jul 5, 2009

SOFIA, Bulgaria-Christiana Daneva holds high educational degrees
in Business Administration, International Relations, and European
Studies. She is keen on dancing, drawing, restoring antiquities, and
skiing, but what inspires and delights her the most is the sound of
her favorite musical instrument-the African djembe. The djembe has a
long history and an exotic origin. According to an ancient legend, the
first djembe was made from the skin of the mythical "gebraffe," a cross
between a giraffe and a zebra. Shaped like a goblet drum, the djembe
is made of wood and typically covered with goat skin. The Bamana people
from Mali, Western Africa named it based on the saying "Anke dje, anke
be," which literally means "everyone gather together," and defines
the drum’s purpose. The shape of the djembe is "carved" by African
beavers that are specially trained to eat only the heart of hardwood
trees logs. Usually a djembe is crafted in Guinea, Senegal, Mali, and
Côte d’Ivoire. A djembe has a coarse interior with a series of divots
(cavities) which make for the different tonal qualities. It is played
with bare hands by exerting various palms strokes. The main notes
are the bass, the tone (the middle), and the slap (high pitched). Do
not mistake the djembe with the tarambuka-they are totally different
although quite similar in appearance. For one, the tarambuka comes from
the East-it is found in the music of Turkey, Persia, Greece, Armenia,
and the Arabian regions. Also, the tarambuka is played with the finger
tips, while the djembe is played by the whole hands. What is more,
a tarambuka has a metal corpus and is usually upholstered with lamb
skin. Playing the Djembe-An Unforgettable Experience For Ms. Daneva,
playing the djembe is a touching and intimate experience. When she
plays, she relaxes and feels rejuvenated. Sometimes the sensation
from the drum is so powerful that she almost goes into trance. She
escapes reality and just relishes the vibrant beats. She has always
been deeply fascinated and drawn to ethno music from around the
world. Percussive music has always particularly moved her. "One day
I came across an article in the newspaper about a djembe workshop in
Sofia, Bulgaria, over a year ago. At the time I did not have my own
instrument, but that did not stop me in the least. In two months,
I had my own real djembe and have been playing ever since." Although
there is no professional training for the djembe at the university,
everyone can start playing if he or she wishes. One doesn’t need a
musical background or education.

"All you need to do is listen to your heart and become one with the
drum." For Ms. Daneva sharing the joy of djembe playing is even more
exciting. She is part of a drum circle called Yambadon. Yambadon plays
at musical events and enlivens its audiences with the overwhelming
rhythms of a uniquely African experience. For more information about
djembe and Yambadon: Last Updated Jul 5,

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