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The Djembe Page
beginners' exercises

These exercises are for beginners, to teach basic facility on the drum. These patterns are very simple, but they are the building blocks of many more advanced rhythms. They make good warm ups, and they prepare you for advanced work.

They also help to strengthen and even out the hands, so that either side can lead when necessary. Evenness and distinction between the tones is crucial. Go at a comfortably slow pace, listening carefully to your tone.

stu's note: As presented here, these rhythms are culturally non-specific, and are not designed to teach repertoire or style, but technique. They also work for ashiko, to a certain degree on conga, and on many other drums as well, any drum or surface on which the 3 basic tones can be achieved..

Groups of two - some are in 4/4 and some in 6/8

R
L
R
L
R
L
R
L
slap
.
.
.
.
pa
ta
.
.
tone
.
.
go
do
.
.
go
do
bass
Gun
Dun
.
.
.
.
.
.
in 4
1
+
2
+
3
+
4
+

 

.
R
L
R
L
R
L
R
L
slap
.
.
pa
ta
.
.
pa
ta
tone
.
.
.
.
go
do
.
.
bass
Gun
Dun
.
.
.
.
.
.
in 4
1
+
2
+
3
+
4
+

It's good to play these remaining steady at various tempos, from very slow to fast, and also starting slowly and speeding up gradually as much as possible while remaining relaxed. Then slow up gradually until you are at the starting tempo. Watch and listen to what the drum and your hands are telling you.

.
R
L
R
L
R
L
slap
.
.
.
.
pa
ta
tone
.
.
go
do
.
.
bass
Gun
Dun
.
.
.
.
in 6
1
2
3
4
5
6

 

.
R
L
R
L
R
L
slap
.
.
pa
ta
.
.
tone
.
.
.
.
go
do
bass
Gun
Dun
.
.
.
.
1
2
3
4
5
6

 

.
R
L
R
L
R
L
slap
.
.
.
.
.
.
tone
.
.
.
do
go
do
bass
Gun
Dun
Gun
.
.
.
.
1
2
3
4
5
6

 

This one, a warmup given at a workshop by djembe artist Malang Bayo, starts with a pick up (played the first time around only). It leads with the left bass tone (dun). You can hear the two within the six, as well as the three:

.
R
L
R
L
R
L
.
.
.
.
pa
ta
.
.
.
go
do
.
.
.
(Gun)
Dun
.
.
.
.
gun
pickup
1
2
3
4
5
6

 


More "Groups of three" - Triplet exercises

Groups of three notes are very beneficial for beginners, because they lead with one hand, then the other, working the weak hand. Practice these slowly, each one for at least 10 to 20 minutes without stopping, paying careful attention to your time & tone. Articulate clearly the difference between bass, tone, and slap:

 

.
R
L
R
L
R
L
slap
.
.
.
.
.
.
tone
.
do
go
.
go
do
bass
Gun
.
.
Dun
.
.
 
1
2
3
4
5
6

 

.
R
L
R
L
R
L
slap
pa
.
.
ta
.
.
tone
.
do
go
.
go
do
bass
.
.
.
.
.
.
 
1
2
3
4
5
6

 

.
R
L
R
L
R
L
slap
.
ta
pa
.
pa
ta
tone
.
.
.
.
.
.
bass
Gun
.
.
Dun
.
.
 
1
2
3
4
5
6

 

.
R
L
R
L
R
L
slap
.
ta
pa
.
pa
ta
tone
go
.
.
do
.
.
bass
.
.
.
.
.
.
 
1
2
3
4
5
6

 

.
R
L
R
L
R
L
slap
.
.
.
.
.
.
tone
go
.
.
do
.
.
bass
.
Dun
Gun
.
Gun
Dun
 
1
2
3
4
5
6

 

.
R
L
R
L
R
L
slap
pa
.
.
ta
.
.
tone
.
.
.
.
.
.
bass
.
Dun
Gun
.
Gun
Dun
.
1
2
3
4
5
6

The rhythm below, called by many names, is a component of several exciting Manding rhythms. Learn it well as transcribed here, with the ghost strokes (so light, they cannot be heard, only felt.) on 2,5 and 6...

.
R
L
R
L
R
L
slap
pa
.
.
ta
.
.
tone
.
.
go
.
.
.
bass
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
1
2
3
4
5
6

 

.
R
L
R
L
R
L
slap
.
ta
pa
.
pa
ta
tone
go
.
.
do
.
.
bass
.
.
.
.
.
.
 
1
2
3
4
5
6

To learn how to pull your rope to tune your djembe, go here. 


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