Exploring the Types of Drums in African Music and Culture

Types of Drums in Africa

Africa has a rich and diverse tradition of drumming, with various types of drums used in different regions and cultural contexts. Here are some common types of drums found in Africa:

1. Djembe

The djembe is a goblet-shaped drum with a single skin and rope-tuned. It is one of the most widely recognized drums from West Africa and is played with bare hands. Djembes produce a wide range of tones and are used in various African music styles.

2. Talking Drum

The talking drum is an hourglass-shaped drum with two drumheads connected by ropes or strings. By squeezing and releasing the ropes with one hand while striking the drumheads with a curved stick, players can alter the pitch of the drum, creating a “talking” effect. It is prevalent in West Africa and often used to mimic human speech.

3. Dundun

Dundun, also known as the dunun or talking drum ensemble, consists of a set of three or more drums of different sizes. Each drum has a different pitch and plays a specific rhythmic pattern. Dundun is commonly found in West Africa, particularly in traditional African music and ceremonies.

4. Ashiko

The ashiko is a tall, cylindrical drum with a wide playing surface. It is traditionally played with bare hands and produces deep, resonant sounds. Ashiko drums are used in various African musical traditions, including Yoruba music in Nigeria.

5. Bougarabou

The bougarabou is a drum with a long, cylindrical body and a wide head. It is played with bare hands and is popular in West African countries like Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea. Bougarabou drums are known for their melodic tones and are often used in ensemble performances.

6. Ngoma

Ngoma refers to a general category of drums found across different regions of Africa. The design and size of ngoma drums can vary, but they are typically made from a hollowed-out log or carved from a single piece of wood. Ngoma drums are played with hands or sticks and are used in various African musical traditions.

7. Atumpan

Atumpan drums, also known as talking drums, are double-headed drums with an hourglass shape. They are prevalent in Ghana and are played with curved sticks. Atumpan drums are often used in traditional Akan music and ceremonies.

These are just a few examples of the diverse range of drums found in Africa. Each drum has its unique cultural significance, playing technique, and sound, contributing to the vibrant musical traditions of the continent.