The Little Drum and Percussion Page

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for Djembes and other African Drums and Instruments

Purchase Djembe



The roughly ''egg timer' shaped Djembe drum originated in West Africa and has become very popular in the USA and Europe.

The phonetic system used here to describe the drum strokes is based on the Yoruba tradition and was popularised by Arthur Hull, based on the teachings of Nigerian drum master, Babatunde Olatunji.

The multi-part rhythms on this page are sourced from the popular "The Djembe Guide" by Ianto Thornber. "The Djembe Guide 2" has just become available. It has new rhythms and accompanying CD, so check it out. Click the link to buy both volumes of The Djembe Guide online.



Key (Right Handed Player)

Gun - Bass Note with right Hand Dun - Bass Note with left Hand

Go - Open Ringing Note with right Hand Do - Open Ringing Note with left hand

Pa - Slap Note with right Hand Ta - Slap Note with left Hand


Practice these exercises to develop your fluency in using both hands and memorise the phonetic names of the notes - Go Do Gun Dun Pa Ta.

The more practice you put in the better your playing will be. Repeat each pattern 8 times, then 16 or 32 times. Longer if you are serious. You can also utilise the exercises on our Exercises page. Do the 'Hand to hand' exercises. You can also adopt rudiments such as The Flam or The Drag to give sparkle and technique to your solos.




Multi Part Rhythms

Have different drummers or 'sections' play these various parts together and in time. You will be stunned and amazed at the music you are making. If you have a Djun Dun, have it play on beat one and beat three to keep a steady beat. More complex rhythms contain more sophisticated parts. The Djembe Guide features multi-part rhythms suitable for beginner through to advanced with corresponding Djun Dun and Cowbell parts.


Multi-part Rhythm 1


Jabba Jabba Djembe



Advanced Rhythms

The Djembe Guide Two, in particular, features more complex rhythms and more rhythms with mulit parts for Djun Dun and Bell. These have proved to be very popular with Drum Circles that have a bit more experience and are looking for new rhythms to expand their repetoire.

These rhythms are taken from The Djembe Guide Two which you can purchase online by following the link.



Multi part rhythms taken from The Djembe Guide by Ianto Thorber.

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E-mail    phil@littledrum.co.uk

All material on this site is copyright Phil Little 2001,