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A Theme-Based Approach to Soloing

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The difference between a phrase-based and theme-based approach to djembe is profound. It may be one of the biggest reasons why many students will never sound like their African teachers - no matter how long or har...

4 Tips To Round Out Your Djembe Solos

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4 Tips For Better Djembe Solos

GOOD NEWS! You’ll Never Know the Djembe!

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Originally published August 2004 by Jeremy Chevrier on his Djembe Essays Blog. Absolutely. It is nice to know that our studies of this drum and African culture have no end. This means that if you are having fun...

The Djembe Can bring New Opportunities…

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Originally published October 2005 by Jeremy Chevrier on his Djembe Essays Blog. Once you embark on the path of the djembe you will learn so much. You will meet so many different kinds of people with so many dif...

Beneath The Surface: Timeline Patterns

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In the Underlying Patterns series we dig in to the many kinds of patterns that we find at play under the surface in djembe and dundun music. In ethnomusicology, these patters are called by many names, such as "...

Intro To Active Accompaniment

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"Active Accompaniment" describes a style of advanced dynamic accompaniment playing we hear in Roots Djembe music. It has to do with the presence and priorities of the accompanist. A player who plays Active...

What Style Do You Play?

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Some people say that a true Djembe Master is required to play all styles and rhythms. Don't be fooled by this statement. There may be some truth to it, but it's misleading. If you misunderstand it, you'll tend to w...

Root Solo Phrases

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Root Phrases present a theme for variation, and set the foundation for the rest of your theme-based solo. That's why in the soloist's progression, playing a Root Phrase is the first step.  Solo Rides (accom...

The 3 Ways To Play Djembe Accompaniment

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There are three ways to play djembe accompaniment: 1. Half-Assed-Waiting-To-Solo Half-Assed accompaniment playing has become popular in big cities. It's a favored style among hotshot "soloists" the world over. A...

How To Play More Fluidly

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Here's an idea: To play more fluidly, try thinking of your role in the music as that of a conduit - not a container. Then work on yourself to become the most conductive conduit you can be. In other word...

Quickly Improve Your Accompaniment

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Broadly speaking, there are two areas of djembe playing that we can always improve on so that the music just keeps getting better and better all the time: Accompaniment Solo. We discuss solo in this...

The “Ripping” and “Shredding” of Traditional Djembe

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Originally published August 2004 by Jeremy Chevrier on his Djembe Essays Blog. People play djembe for a variety of reasons. Some play for fun. Some play because they want to show off. Some play to attract a mat...

Signature Phrases

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A Signature Phrases is a phrase that's associated with very few rhythms (or only one rhythm), so when you hear it played, it's as if the rhythm is "saying it's own name." Many Dundun parts are signature phr...

What Is Clave?

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Clave is a term used by Afro-Cuban musicians. It refers to a type of underlying timeline pattern in the music. Most rhythms from Cuba have one of these clave patterns. In Afro-Cuban music, the Clave can be very...

1 Drummer, 2 Drummers, 3 Drummers MORE?

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Originally published August 2004 by Jeremy Chevrier on his Djembe Essays Blog. How many drummers make a good ensemble? 3 djembes and 2 dunun players? Hmmm… How about 4 Djembe accompaniments and 1 soloist and on...

Learning Mode vs. Playing Mode

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At times, we're too heady while playing, affecting timing, flow, spontaneity, and the general feeling of the music. What Happens? Deep thought and analysis help us gain a better understanding of djembe music. (W...

The Incredible Djembe!

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Originally published April 2006 by Jeremy Chevrier on his Djembe Essays Blog. The djembe never ceases to amaze me. Once you embark on the path of the djembefola your life will continually change and grow along ...

Intro to Hand-Over-Hand

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Keep Your Hands Moving Hand-Over-Hand is a technique where you keep your hands moving while you play. Your hands move up and down constantly, alternating back and forth, sometimes even pitter-pattering on...

5 Ways HOH Technique Can Help You

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Adopting Hand Over Hand takes a bit of work, but for us it’s been WELL worth the effort. In the long run, it saves you time and energy, and helps you spot commonalities you might not have noticed before. ...

Thank God for Our Djembe Community!

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Originally published January 2005 by Jeremy Chevrier on his Djembe Essays Blog. What an amazing community it is! I have met so many interesting people through my studies of the djembe. I often tell my students ...

Tips For Playing Active Accompaniment

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We introduced the idea of Active Accompaniment a while back, in this post. Here are some simple tips to get you started playing Active Accompaniment quickly. Start Playing Active Accompaniment A Word Of Ca...

The Need for Speed

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Originally published August 2004 by Jeremy Chevrier on his Djembe Essays Blog. In the past, speed was only one skill or facet of being a good djembe player. Today it has become one of the most important...

Two Extremes To Think About

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Here's a djembe-related false dichotomy: I make the music happen vs. IT just streams through me. The "I make the music happen" Extreme Now all too common, unfortunately. A modern and juvenile approach to pla...

The Difference between Soko, Sogo, Sojo and Soho

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Originally published August 2004 by Jeremy Chevrier on his Djembe Essays Blog. There is a lot of confusion in the djembe community surrounding rhythms called by slightly different names or rhythms with the same...