Category: Oldstyle Philosophy

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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...

Is It My Turn to Solo Yet?

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Originally published August 2004 by Jeremy Chevrier on his Djembe Essays Blog. My teacher always emphasizes the value of good accompaniment. Accompaniment is number one. If a djembe player cannot play really go...

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...

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...

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...

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...

4 Tips To Round Out Your Djembe Solos

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4 Tips For Better Djembe Solos

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. ...

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...

The 4 Handing Systems

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Four notable handing techniques to consider when playing djembe are: Hand-Over-Hand (as your default handing) Leading with your Dominant Hand (as your secondary handing) Random Handing (to be used when nee...

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...

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...

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 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...

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 "...

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...

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...

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...

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...

Pillar #1: Honor Tradition

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Honoring the tradition of djembe music is the first of “The Endangered Three” – a group of three qualities that, when combined, embody Roots Djembe. And unfortunately, it’s becoming rare to find them all together ...

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 ...

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...

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...