Category: Oldstyle Philosophy

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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...

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...

4 Tips To Round Out Your Djembe Solos

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4 Tips For Better Djembe Solos

Slowly, Slowly The Bird Builds Its Nest…

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Originally published August 2005 by Jeremy Chevrier on his Djembe Essays Blog. You cannot learn the djembe overnight. This is impossible. Djembe is a lifetime learning experience. You can never stop learning wi...

Don’t Tell the Master to Wipe Your Ass

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Originally published August 2004 by Jeremy Chevrier on his Djembe Essays Blog. Never judge a person before you know them. I have heard so many incredible stories from Abdoulaye regarding embarrassing inc...

The Endangered Three – Oldstyle Djembe

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Think of "Roots" djembe music like Roots Reggae, Classic Rock, or Oldies. It's old-style music from a few generations back.  Djembe music is changing. Today, younger people usually play modernized djembe music ...

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...

Solo Rides

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Solo Rides are solo phrases that are like accompaniment patterns. In modern ensembles, they sometimes become "accompaniment #2," "accompaniment #3," or "accompaniment #4," but they were originally played by the so...

There is Only One Mande

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Originally published August 2004 by Jeremy Chevrier on his Djembe Essays Blog. Many people in the djembe community are talking about “Guinea Style”, “Mali Style”, “Senegalese Style”, etc. It seems that separati...

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...

4 Hand Clapping Patterns In Djembe Music

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Hand clapping really adds a lot to djembe music. Unlike percussion music from some other parts of the world, I've noticed the hand clapping in djembe music is on the beat for the most part. It's not too complex, b...

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...

Problems With The Phrases-Based Approach to Djembe

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I recommend you adopt a themes-based approach to djembe rather than a phrases-based approach. If your teacher or someone else seems infinitely better than you at djembe, a theme-based approach may be one of th...

Series: Jeremy Chevrier’s Djembe Essays

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We're happy to republish a handful of articles originally written a decade ago by Jeremy Chevrier, founder of Rootsy Records as well as The Djembe Hotel in Bamako, Mali. Jeremy, and the recordings he re...

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...

Pillar #2: Prioritize Musicality

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Good-feeling music before technical tricks and showmanship is the second of “The Endangered Three” – a group of three qualities that, when combined, embody Roots Djembe. And unfortunately, it’s becoming rare to fi...

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...

You Can’t Force The Djembe…

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Originally published May 2005 by Jeremy Chevrier on his Djembe Essays Blog. My teacher Abdoulaye Diakite has told me many times that, "If you try to force the djembe, the djembe will force you.". His teacher Su...

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. ...

Solo Meditations

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A solo meditation is a practice exercise in which you focus on one single solo theme, represented by a root solo phrase. Meditations help to develop an intimate relationship with the rhythm. They are an ...

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...

Pillar #3: Maintain An Open Heart & Mind

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Maintaining an open heart when it comes to djembe music is the third of "The Endangered Three" - a group of three qualities that, when combined, embody Roots Djembe. And unfortunately, it's becoming rare to find t...

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 "...