Hand Drum Lessons & Notation for Djembes, Dununs & Bells

Category Archives: playing style

Traditional Drumming in Sri Lanka

Last week I had the pleasure of witnessing up close some ceremonial drumming in front of the Temple of the (Buddha’s) Tooth in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Packing my sangban along on this trip for a February drum camp in Thailand, I was eager to see some of the local dundunfolas in action.Not that the rhythms were by any stretch West African… Yet these were master drummers in their own right, making rich tapestries with hands on the double-headed Indian-style drums, accompanied by clattery riffs of curved stick on double tablas.

As if this were not treat enough, I attended a performance of a local traditional drum and dance troupe, featuring the same kinds of drums in a more extensive showcase of brilliant solo and polyrhythmic rhythms. At times the rhythms were crazy, complex, elusive; then, marked by the metronome of zills, an identifiable 4/4 or 6/8 pattern would come into play. Freely improvising on an internal groove, the soloist would ride a juicy wave quite reminiscent in feel and flavor to a djembefola: with hands working both sides of the horizontal bass drum. Enjoy!

Drum Jamming Made Easy (Sometimes)

Two new publications are available this week for beginning or experienced drummers to learn from. Both written in 1996, these resources now make accessible rhythms and experiental lessons that helped me in the early phase of my journey as a hand drummer. Friday Night JamĀ is a kind of anecdotal, instructional how-to (and sometimes painful how-not-to)… Continue Reading

Friday Night Jam (excerpt)

[excerpt from a journal chronicling music jams 1991-95; photos more recent] A long chat with Michel yesterday on drumming and jamming: the need to be more out there, present, expressive, not flat and holding back, but dynamic: moving in and out of the rhythmic base, with others supporting and being supported: taking and giving space… Continue Reading