Category: Oldstyle Philosophy

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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 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 ...

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...

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

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...

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...

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 ...

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...

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...

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...

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. ...

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...

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...

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...

The Soloist’s Progression: Theme-Based Soloing

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The soloists progression is a basic formula for a good solo. It's not to be followed rigidly. In fact, the whole point is to increase fluidity and let your solo progress organically. The concept of the soloist...

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...

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. Here's a great...

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...

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...

Slicing & Building

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Working with "slicing and building" is how we refer to one of the most ancient soloing techniques in djembe music. It's done by taking a basic phrase and extending or shortening it to build and release musical ten...

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 “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...