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The djembe

How To Play Djembe

The Slap

djembe slap

Like a tone, the slap is played on the edge of the drum. Use about an inch more of your hand than with the tone, i.e. play about an inch closer towards the centre, with the hand cupped slightly and the fingers open only slightly. Bring your forearm down and let the heel of your hand strike the edge of the drum first and allow your fingers to 'slap' the face of the drum.

The note produced should sound higher than the tone (A fifth or an octave higher for you fanatics). It takes a lot of practice to produce a good slap. Try not to play too hard.

The video below show Mamady Keita, one of the world's great djembe players, giving a tip on how to play the slap.

The Notes

On the charts, a slap is represented by a star, like this:

The Words

The slap is called either 'pa' or 'ta' depending on which hand it is played with. 'pa' is played with the black hand, 'ta' is played with the red hand. See below.


Words pa ta
Next article: Slap Note Exercises