Category: Oldstyle Philosophy

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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...

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...

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...

4 Tips To Round Out Your Djembe Solos

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4 Tips For Better Djembe Solos

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 "...

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...

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...

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...

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 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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Djembe Happiness in UnHappy Times…

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Originally published December 2004 by Jeremy Chevrier on his Djembe Essays Blog. We are living in some very tough times these days. If we only worry about all the stressful news and economic problems we are fac...

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 ...

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...

How Much Money Does Wisdom Cost?

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Originally published August 2004 by Jeremy Chevrier on his Djembe Essays Blog. How much money do you have to pay a master to teach djembe? If you paid the master $100 for an hour-long private class should you g...

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...

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 ...

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...

Quickly Improve Your Solo

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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 accompaniment...

Humility : #1 Criterion for Djembe Master

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Originally published August 2004 by Jeremy Chevrier on his Djembe Essays Blog. A true djembe master is humble. I have never met a master drummer who was not humble. I have met good drummers who were arrogant bu...

How To Anchor Yourself To The Beat

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Once you understand where the beat is, then you can move on to apply proper swing to your playing. Did you know there are a couple of musical elements you can easily look to when you want to find and anchor you...