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The djembe

A traditional djembe ensemble

A dundun

A typical ensemble contains one soloist, one or two accompanying djembe and from one to three dundun players. It is often accompanied by dancers and hand clapping.

The bass drums, or dundun, are usually played with sticks and provide the core structure of the rhythm. There are 3 types of bass drum that range in size and pitch. They are the doundounba, the sangban and the kenkeni.

The djembe accompanists each play different rhythms alongside the bass drum to complete the basic song. The soloist introduces the song, accents the beats, controls the tempo and plays solo pieces over the rhythm provided.

The Sekeseke

Djembe with sekeseke

Two or three metal plates, called sekeseke or segesege in Mali, or kesekese in Guinea are attached to the edge of the djembe. The edges of these plates have been pierced and threaded with many wire rings. They resonate in sympathy when the drum is played and accent the notes of the drum or kora (harp) with a jingling sound that adds to the 'voice of the drum'.

Similar resonators are used on other African instruments such as the mbira and the balafon.


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