Hand Drum Lessons & Notation for Djembes, Dununs & Bells

Roots Jam Drum Rhythm and Lesson Books

Collected Djembe and Dunun Rhythms
with Notation and Hand Drumming Lessons

Are you…

–a beginning hand drummer having trouble remembering the drum beats you learn? Maybe you’ve never taken a djembe lesson or learned music notation, and need a book with some basic instruction and djembe rhythms in easy rhythm notation to get you started. Or you’ve taken a few hand drum lessons or workshops and now need more patterns and exercises to keep you practicing.

–an intermediate djembe player looking to go beyond the basics and “put it all together”? Are you ready now to learn more about junjun (also called dundun or dunun) and bell parts? Or maybe you just need a solid collection of traditional West African drum rhythms in drum tablature notation, to hone your skills between workshops or performances.

–a kit drummer who’s looking to expand your chops into the expanding genres of world beat, fusion, reggae, or latin groove music–or to explore the roots of funk, jazz, and blues? Maybe what you need is a handy reference for playing African drums or African-based drum beats which you can adapt and apply creatively to the kit drum components of your choice.

–a performing or advanced drummer looking for a quick reference of ensemble arrangements for African and Latin dance rhythm arrangements, dundun patterns, or lead djembe solo parts? Maybe you want to share your drum knowledge with others, and can use additional rhythm parts and techniques to make your lessons or group repertoire more effective. You’ll also find here unique transcriptions, distillations and compilations of traditional patterns, to help you compose or arrange original percussion pieces and adaptations.

Roots Jam Rhythm Collections and Lessons

African djembe drumming for dance3 volumes to choose from …
Each book has material for beginners, intermediate and advanced drummers.

Easy notation for a wide variety of popular drum rhythms – hand drum lessons – rhythm concepts – tips and tricks – resources – practice patterns – basic universal patterns – audio files – and more!

new Roots Super Jam: Get all three Roots Jam volumes 1-3 in one book.
Special introductory offer: order now and save almost 50% 

more information about Roots Jam rhythm books …

Contents, Samples, Excerpts
Sample pages & audio tracks
Overview of Roots Jam books
Roots Jam 1: Collected Rhythms for Hand Drums and Percussion
Roots Jam 2: West African and Afro-Latin Drum Rhythms
Roots Jam 3: Arrangements for West African Drum & DanceComparison chart
The rhythm notation:
full notation system
Nowick Gray has been a teacher and writer for over three decades, and a drummer since 1990.  He currently teaches and performs with a number of drum and percussion groups in Victoria, BC and Maui, Hawaii. Read more about the author, Nowick Gray.

Which of the Roots Jam rhythm books is best for a beginner?

All 3 volumes of Roots Jam are appropriate for all levels: beginners, intermediate and advanced drummers. Read more…

Roots Jam 1: Collected Rhythms for Hand Drum and Percussion

This unique resource contains hundreds of rhythms from the African, Latin and rock traditions, along with inspired improvisations.  Easy notation, useful for all levels, from beginners to performers.  Includes lesson guide, arrangements, popular styles, practice exercises, and a list of other resources.  Fully indexed, 80 pages. Click here to view contents, sample pages, and index of rhythms.

Roots Jam 2: West African and Afro-Latin Drum Rhythms

An expanded collection of over 125 traditional West African, Afro-Latin, and Middle Eastern rhythms, arranged for ready reference for individual learning or ensemble play.  Covers djembe and dunun/bell parts and variations, in box (grid) notation for clear display of timing. Includes unique exercises, generic patterns and in-depth study of polyrhythm. Optional full-length audio CD with 28 demo and practice tracks. Click here to view contents, sample pages, and index of rhythms.

Roots Jam 3: Arrangements for West African Drum & Dance

This third collection of rhythms helps you take the next step in playing West African drums for dancers, in a group, or just for fun. Learn basic accompaniment parts, selected bass drum (dunun) and bell patterns and variations, and traditional djembe solos. Roots Jam 3 adds to the previous Roots Jam books in offering complete and cohesive ensemble arrangements for 16 popular dance rhythms.  Included are lessons and exercises to help you understand basic downbeat, upbeat and offbeat timing; choose from available bell and clave patterns; and learn both traditional and improvised lead djembe solos.  Practice listening to and playing parts with the optional audio CD.  Also featured is notation for 27 original compositions by Nowick Gray, with audio tracks on a second CD. Click here to view contents, sample pages, and index of rhythms.

Roots Jam Comparison Chart

Roots Jam 1:
Collected Rhythms for Hand Drum & Percussion
(1996; 80 p.)
Roots Jam 2:
West African and Afro-Latin Drum Rhythms 
(2002; 85 p.)
Roots Jam 3:
Arrangements for West African Drum & Dance
(2007; 64 p.)
  • hundreds of rhythms from the African, Latin, and rock traditions, plus original improvisations
  • notation for four primary types of rhythmic feel
  • duets, breaks, exercises, popular styles
  • tips on drum groups, jams, all-night drumming, trance dance
  • majority of notation showing left-hand lead

View sample pages: RJ1

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  • over 125 traditional African, Afro-Latin, and Middle Eastern rhythms
  • comprehensive collection of parts to choose from
  • simple box notation based on Olatunji “gun-go-pa” method
  • practice exercises and generic patterns for djembe, dunun, bell/clave
  • guidance on pulse and polyrhythm, tradition and improvisation, time signatures and handing, intentions and excellence, new directions

View sample pages: RJ2

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  • selected arrangements for 16 dance rhythms
  • notation for 27 original compositions
  • all new workshop lessons & features
  • lead djembe solo tips & exercises
  • 2 optional CD-length audio bundles(16 traditional arrangements + 27 original compositions, in mp3 format)

View sample pages: RJ3

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Roots Super JamRoots Super Jam: Collected West African & Diaspora Drum Rhythms

Now you can get all three Roots Jam volumes
(1, 2 & 3) in one book.
Special introductory offer:
order now for $29.99 and save almost 50%. 

Reviews and testimonials of satisfied drummers

5-Star Review – “A Unique Book”

About Roots Jam 1…

Roots Jam is a compilation of hand drum rhythms that is well presented, with an easy-to-understand-and-use notation that appears to be gaining some acceptance as a standard for hand-drum rhythm notation. This foundation has allowed me, a beginner, to use Roots Jam as one of my primary instructional books. I highly recommend this book to any one who hand drums.
–A.E. Rice, Albuquerque, New Mexico

About Roots Jam 2…

What a monumental effort! Combining theory, rhythms, scholarship, personal research, exercises and philosophy as well as technically combining text and audio examples. This is a comprehensive, readable and affordable reference for over 80 African rhythms and 40 others. The book also contains a new and important contribution; the identification and classification of generic rhythm patterns.
–Jean Vaucher, Montreal

Fun instruction for all levels

Your books are great! Kids love the rhythms. Thanks!.
–Sharon S.

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