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Re: Cowskin on Djembe?

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  • urdab58
    chris, i have a cowskin on one of my guinea drums. the drum itself is a very dense piece of djalla about 24 tall with a ~13 diameter head. big bowl and
    Message 1 of 18 , Aug 11, 2006
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      chris,

      i have a cowskin on one of my guinea drums. the drum itself is a very
      dense piece of djalla about 24" tall with a ~13" diameter head. big
      bowl and very thick walls. it was headed with a very thin cowskin
      that runs thick to thin with the thin side being where i play.

      you really don't want to put it on a big diameter drum...it'll be a
      big pain in the ass to get that thing up to playing tension for a solo
      drum. what i've learned from a cow skin is that it's better to have
      it cranked as high as you can if you're going to have it be a solo
      drum. it'll play fast, clean and loud. anything less and it's going
      to take a lot of energy and muscle to get the cow skin sound. that's
      not to say that it still doesn't take a lot of effort to have good
      sound with a cow. you're still going to have to hit it as hard as you
      can in my opinion. it's a nice change of pace from goat. you can get
      certain sounds out of cow you can't get with a goat skin. plus, it's
      going to strengthen your hands and forearms.

      for an example of the cow skin sound, check out Soungalo Coulibaly's
      L'art du Djembe and Yelemba d'Abidjan's Hommage.


      --- In djembe-l@yahoogroups.com, Chris Kennedy <chris@...> wrote:
      >
      > Hello List,
      > Has anyone out there had any success putting a cowskin on a djembe?
      I've heard of some Cote d'Ivoire djembes headed like this but have
      never seen or played one.
      > What is the sound like? Would it be better to put it on a bass
      djembe or solo drum?
      > Any input would be appreciated.
      > Thanks!
      > Chris Kennedy
      > www.thegoatworks.com
      > <http://www.thegoatworks.com/>
      >
    • Mark Richards
      it s called a buggereeboo. ask shorty palmer about it. Chris Kennedy wrote: Hello List, Has anyone out there had any success
      Message 2 of 18 , Aug 11, 2006
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        it's called a buggereeboo. ask shorty palmer about it.

        Chris Kennedy <chris@...> wrote: Hello List,
        Has anyone out there had any success putting a cowskin on a djembe? I've heard of some Cote d'Ivoire djembes headed like this but have never seen or played one.
        What is the sound like? Would it be better to put it on a bass djembe or solo drum?
        Any input would be appreciated.
        Thanks!
        Chris Kennedy
        www.thegoatworks.com
        <http://www.thegoatworks.com/>






        ---------------------------------
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      • urdab58
        a djembe with a cow skin does not equal a bougarboo. i disagree with you about the sound of a cow. if you have the right type of skin on the drum and tune it
        Message 3 of 18 , Aug 12, 2006
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          a djembe with a cow skin does not equal a bougarboo.

          i disagree with you about the sound of a cow. if you have the right
          type of skin on the drum and tune it right, you can get higher pitch
          and volume.

          Moderator's note: When Famoudou Konate, one of the greatest 'soundsmiths' of the instrument, toured the US and canada this year, he played cow on his djembe.
          Alan
        • Rainer Polak
          ... Hi Alan, I can confirm this statement (but would talk of [little] calf, not cow). The ones you use on djembe are thicker than goat, but not that much
          Message 4 of 18 , Aug 15, 2006
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            >if you have the right
            >type of skin on the drum and tune it right, you can get higher pitch
            >and volume.

            Hi Alan, I can confirm this statement (but would talk of [little]
            calf, not cow). The ones you use on djembe are thicker than goat, but
            not that much thicker. And using calf on djembe has nothing to do
            with Bougarabou, conga or other instruments.
            It was and is done in Mali, Ivory coast and other places by djembe
            players who have nothing in mind but djembe construction and playing.
            Yet it was not the rule before, thus the fact that it is practised
            nowadays by many of the younger professional celeberation drummers in
            Bamako is a recent trend (of the part decade), and they imported this
            trend (at least partly) from Abidjan.
            It is really high pitched and extremely clear in sound, cutting
            through almost any soundscape. What might be missing in the sound is
            a certain "dirty" character which might be essential to the "talk" of
            the drum. In the local terms of Bamako, a jina-jenbe (a jenbe which
            is able to attract the spirits by its sound; these are mostly large
            in diameter and too high-pitched) is held to be somewhat of the
            contrary of todays high pitched calf jenbe. Being critical about high
            pitched calf, one could say that while it is clear and cutting and
            loud it is nothing but clear and cutting and loud. On the other hand,
            it sounds beautiful to many very experienced jenbe players. And if
            you have to play solo in a larger ensemble at tempos like 700 ppm, as
            you often have to in Bamako, for instance when it come to the second
            (fast) parts of, say, suku, sunu, or madan, you might prefer not to
            play a jina jenbe, because you had to kill yourself to be heard at
            all within only half a minute ...

            What I personally do not like about it is that the skin gets very
            very hard which is quite some challange to your hands if you play it
            strongly. Even if you protected by moderately cultivated calluses and
            have experience in hand techniques: it is more difficult not to get
            hurt by a high pitched calf than by a high pitched goat.

            So, while personally like goat best until now (after quite some
            experiments with calf, deer, goat, and antelope), I believe there is
            not much sense in saying this or that skin type is good or bad or
            correct or in-authentic. It just gives different sound which meet
            different aesthetic sound ideals and the particular needs of
            different performance contexts.

            And remember that goat became the rule only since recent decades,
            when it became easily accessible in the West African cities (by
            contrast to antelope). The massive wide spread of goat in West Africa
            came only in colonial times. Antelope was the choice before. I have
            not that much experience with antelopes, but the 4 or 5 I had were
            like Antelope being somehow in between goat and calf.

            Jeremy Chevrier <rootsyrecords.com> might give us more insights in
            antelope qualities, since he sells antelope skins.


            What nice possibilities there are. Why not trying them out, if you
            are lucky enough to get the chance.

            Rainer

            Mod Note: Thanks, good info for all! Yes, Famoudou Konate played baby cow, commonly called 'calf' skin, to be clear in his North American Tour 2006.
            Alan
          • Mark Savage
            Rainier, The story unfolds even more about drumming and modern influences. I had not made the connection between the colonial goat and the indigenous
            Message 5 of 18 , Aug 21, 2006
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              Rainier,

              The story unfolds even more about drumming and modern influences. I had not made the connection between the colonial goat and the indigenous antelope. It is true that if your a purists, one must chose the your historic reference being 150 years or 300 years. Sorta defeats the purists cause!

              While we are talking skins I would like to offer a question to the forum. I am a beginner with a wonderful 12" Djembe from Guinea--wonderful hard wood. I am having a bit of trouble making my tones L-R sound the same as the tone pitch is different.

              Now I know most of the issue is just practice and skill that is understood. And a smaller Djembe with a tight thin goatskin I think will be more responsive. Would a thicker skin be more suitable for my level and thus be more forgiving for a 1st year student?

              Also I wonder about skin damage as on a recent road trip the drum was left in a hotter car. Thought the temperature was okay but I may have been wrong. Would a stretched goat skin create these differences in tone?

              I found a good spot where my tones are similar and with technique they are sounding great, but that is just on one side only.

              Anyway some insight from you experts would really help me. Wondering if I need to re-head my Djembe.

              thx, Karm





              ---------------------------------
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            • Mark Richards
              The feint line in the middle of the drum (the back of the animal when it was alive), one hand goes on either side. Thicker skins will hurt (ow!) your hands
              Message 6 of 18 , Aug 23, 2006
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                The feint line in the middle of the drum (the back of the animal when it was alive), one hand goes on either side.

                Thicker skins will hurt (ow!) your hands more.

                Tighten the head. If you're getting different sounds on different parts of the rim, it's probably a loose skin. The proper tightness for a djembe is one diamond knot before the skin pops. And while you're at it, what's the sound of one hand clapping?

                Learn how to re-head your drum. People who play all the time marvel at skins that last more than a year. The head is not a permanent part of your drum. Skins cost about $15 from Shorty Palmer and others on the internet and there are instructions all over the place on the net. Don't worry about the head. Worry about your hands! If you play till they hurt, ice them just like a sports injury. Use hand cream regularly to keep calluses from ripping. Take care of any skin splits with bandaids & antibiotic cream.

                Mark Savage <karms88@...> wrote:
                > I am having a bit of trouble making my tones L-R sound the same as > the tone pitch is different.
              • Merlin@silvercircle.org
                ... Check if the skin gives the same tone all around by gently tapping it with your right index finger on the edge. That will guarantee you that the skin is
                Message 7 of 18 , Aug 23, 2006
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                  Karm wrote:
                  >While we are talking skins I would like to offer a question to the
                  >forum. I am a beginner with a wonderful 12" Djembe from
                  >Guinea--wonderful hard wood. I am having a bit of trouble making my
                  >tones L-R sound the same as the tone pitch is different.

                  Check if the skin gives the same tone all around by gently tapping it
                  with your right index finger on the edge. That will guarantee you
                  that the skin is not the problem. If it is, find the spot where both
                  your hand positions should give the same sound.

                  From there, start working on your technique to get left and right
                  hand exactly the same.
                  Happy drumming!
                  Dennis
                • Alex Salvador
                  Thank you Mark for your description (below) of how tight a djembe should be :) Nothing, I mean NOTHING, describes it more accurately for me :) Cheers, Alex
                  Message 8 of 18 , Aug 25, 2006
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                    Thank you Mark for your description (below) of how
                    tight a djembe should be :)

                    Nothing, I mean NOTHING, describes it more accurately
                    for me :)

                    Cheers,
                    Alex Salvador
                    AUSTRALIA

                    --- Mark Richards <bloodthump@...> wrote:
                    > The proper tightness for a djembe is
                    > one diamond knot before the skin pops.
                  • Karm
                    Dennis and Mark You know I pulled a few knots and now I am playing near perfect tones that are equal in tone pitch. As a beginner the finer points of Djembe
                    Message 9 of 18 , Aug 25, 2006
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                      Dennis and Mark

                      You know I pulled a few knots and now I am playing near perfect tones
                      that are equal in tone pitch. As a beginner the finer points of Djembe
                      tuning is a learning experience. I was confindent that I had damaged
                      the skin and also confindent that the skin was a properly tensioned.
                      She was already singing so well that I never considered pulling a few
                      knots.

                      thanks for getting back to me with your encouraging words.

                      .....Karm
                    • Reverend R Clark
                      Greetings Alex, Mark, Parm and ALL! A noticeable difference is present in most every hand drummer regardless of skill level due to physical asymmetry, e.g.
                      Message 10 of 18 , Aug 25, 2006
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                        Greetings Alex, Mark, Parm and ALL!

                        A noticeable difference is present in most every hand drummer regardless
                        of skill level due to physical asymmetry, e.g. hand sizes are subtlety
                        different, goatskins are of variable thickness and other variables. With
                        practice this effect can be minimized. Getting notes from both right and
                        left to sound the same is especially a challenge for me due to traumatic
                        severing of several muscles in my left chest that were never reattached
                        following a major car wreck. For me the key to getting alternate hands
                        to sound close to the same is to hit the drum in nearly the same spot
                        with each and to lighten up a bit with my stronger side, "pulling the
                        punch" so to speak.

                        The level of tightness that ya'll describe is not so spiritually
                        esoteric as "one hand clapping" or some other seemingly unattainable
                        koan. Tuning is also mechanical.

                        To achieve maximum tightness without popping the head is quite mundanely
                        simple. Play between each added diamond knot. When an additional knot
                        will produce no noticeable rise in pitch, adding more will only serve to
                        court popping the head. This method will allow one to get within
                        one-half a diamond of popping the head without doing so immediately.

                        Note: changes in temperature and/or humidity, especially rapid ones, can
                        push such a loaded structure over the edge. The final sound then
                        produced can range from a comparatively soft ripping sound to something
                        resembling a pistol shot.

                        Thanks for Everything!
                        One Love, R
                        ++++++
                        “Spiritual teaching has always pointed to the fact that everything in
                        creation has a sound, its own unique vibration. As conscious listeners
                        we may perceive more and more of what the universe is saying to us by
                        the simple act of listening. We can learn to appreciate each and every
                        sound.”
                        - Katherine Le Mee, "Chant"
                        ++++++

                        Alex Salvador wrote:
                        > Thank you Mark for your description (below) of how
                        > tight a djembe should be :)
                        >
                        > Nothing, I mean NOTHING, describes it more accurately
                        > for me :)
                        >
                        > Cheers,
                        > Alex Salvador
                        > AUSTRALIA
                        >
                        > --- Mark Richards <bloodthump@...> wrote:
                        >
                        >>The proper tightness for a djembe is
                        >>one diamond knot before the skin pops.
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        >
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                      • Rob Wandell
                        ... Ever see the movie Galaxy Quest? The aliens hae recreated a machine from a star trek like show called an Omega 13 . Problem is, they don t know what it
                        Message 11 of 18 , Aug 25, 2006
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                          >Thank you Mark for your description (below) of how
                          >tight a djembe should be :)
                          >
                          >Nothing, I mean NOTHING, describes it more accurately
                          >for me :)
                          >
                          >Cheers,
                          >Alex Salvador
                          >AUSTRALIA
                          >
                          >--- Mark Richards <bloodthump@...> wrote:
                          > > The proper tightness for a djembe is
                          > > one diamond knot before the skin pops.
                          >

                          Ever see the movie Galaxy Quest? The aliens hae recreated a machine from a
                          star trek like show called an "Omega 13". Problem is, they don't know what
                          it does. Plot spoiler: It sends you back into the past 13 seconds. My
                          thought immediately: That's the perfect djembe tuning tool! Pull diamonds
                          till it pops, hit the button, you're back in time 13 seconds, and now you
                          know when to stop. If only......

                          Rob Wandell
                          PrimalBeat.com
                          http://primalbeat.com/
                        • Adam Klein
                          ... The sound is flop-flop-flop-flop-flop . I learned to clap one-handed 25 years ago and people still ask this question. No, I m serious. The Zen Masters
                          Message 12 of 18 , Sep 2 6:57 AM
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                            At 4:44 PM -0700 8/23/06, Mark Richards wrote:
                            > Tighten the head. If you're getting different sounds on different
                            >parts of the rim, it's probably a loose skin. The proper tightness
                            >for a djembe is one diamond knot before the skin pops. And while
                            >you're at it, what's the sound of one hand clapping?

                            The sound is "flop-flop-flop-flop-flop". I learned to clap one-handed
                            25 years ago and people still ask this question. No, I'm serious. The
                            Zen Masters apparently never developed the skill.

                            Like drum heads, it's all a matter of where you put the tension.

                            Don't believe me? Cock and hold your wrist back as far as it will go,
                            leave your fingers loose, and move your arm away from and back
                            towards your body, very fast, causing the fingers to flail back and
                            forth, on the stroke towards your body hitting your palm. That is
                            the sound of one hand clapping.

                            To do this you need flexible fingers. Not enveryone has the bone and
                            tendon structure necessary.

                            To keep this germaine, I'll close by saying that though I can clap
                            with one hand, and play the bones, I doubt I'll ever achieve the
                            mastery of jembe playing that I aspire to, since I started very late,
                            but I do what I can. As the Oracle said, we're all here to do what
                            we're all here to do.

                            Cheers

                            AK
                          • Mark R. Richards
                            ... ... You know, the problem with retorical (sp?) questions is that sometimes they have real answers. I can t believe that I engaging in this;
                            Message 13 of 18 , Sep 2 8:36 AM
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                              --- In djembe-l@yahoogroups.com, Adam Klein <adamcjklein@...> wrote:
                              <snip>
                              > Don't believe me? Cock and hold your wrist back as far as it will
                              > go, leave your fingers loose, and move your arm away from and back
                              > towards your body, very fast, causing the fingers to flail back
                              > and forth, on the stroke towards your body hitting your palm. That
                              > is the sound of one hand clapping.
                              <snip>

                              You know, the problem with retorical (sp?) questions is that
                              sometimes they have real answers. I can't believe that I engaging in
                              this; but there is actually more that one way to clap with just one
                              hand. Here is a way that anyone, regardless of tendon/bone structure
                              can clap with one hand (bear with me - I've never tried to explain
                              this without demonstrating it):
                              1 - hand out in front of you, little finger on the bottom, thumb &
                              index on the top
                              2 - tip of thumb to tip of middle finger - these stay this way
                              3 - all other fingers loose
                              4 - whip your hand down and up
                              The index will slap against the middle finger that is being
                              supported by the thumb on the upward whip, making a small slapping
                              sound that can be made louder with practice.
                            • Reverend R Clark
                              Greetings Adam! ... ... We re here because we re not all there, after all is said and done more is said than done, for true . As to mastery
                              Message 14 of 18 , Sep 2 9:16 AM
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                                Greetings Adam!

                                > At 4:44 PM -0700 8/23/06, Mark Richards wrote:
                                >>you're at it, what's the sound of one hand clapping?

                                Adam Klein replied:
                                > The sound is "flop-flop-flop-flop-flop". I learned to clap one-handed
                                > 25 years ago and people still ask this question. No, I'm serious. The
                                > Zen Masters apparently never developed the skill.
                                <snipperama>
                                > I doubt I'll ever achieve the
                                > mastery of jembe playing that I aspire to, since I started very late,
                                > but I do what I can. As the Oracle said, we're all here to do what
                                > we're all here to do.

                                We're here because we're not all there, after all is said and done more
                                is said than done, for true <grin>.

                                As to mastery of our chosen instrument... Djembefola I'm not and I have
                                accomplished much in my years with it and continue to do so. Adam you've
                                been at this a number of years by my reckoning so I think it likely
                                that you are merely being humble and that you too continue to improve as
                                do we all. Sometimes all that is necessary is to redefine what success
                                is. As well, I feel that any pursuit that takes less than a lifetime to
                                achieve is a false path because there is nothing worse than topping out
                                and having heard the last word on any subject, ay?

                                I too clap one handed, although differently. I simply and rather quietly
                                flap my fingers onto my palm. I always thought it a good exercise and a
                                rather silly question. Which is of course the point of a Zen koan. This
                                brings me to my favorite of these questions posed to unhook the rational
                                monkey mind, "When you blot out all sense and sound what do you hear?"
                                (and hopefully it isn't just a ringing noise from my tinnitus. <grin>)

                                Those of ya'll that like this sort of humor will likely ROTF&LYFAO to
                                Swami Beyondananda (others will see it as a form of PUNishment). In
                                kinder times he was more concerned with "enlightening up" in a visit
                                just now I find his focus to be politicized and still simultaneously
                                wise and wildly humorous.
                                http://www.wakeuplaughing.com/news.html
                                <http://www.wakeuplaughing.com/news.html>

                                This peaks another interest of mine that is concurrent with drumming.
                                Sound and Listening. I notice that we as humans have two ears and one
                                mouth which I take to mean that we need to listen twice as much as we
                                express ourselves. This is especially true when approaching the goal of
                                "playing well with others." It seems the harder we play the harder we
                                need to listen to how it all fits together and if we can't hear the
                                others then surely we are playing too loudly. I could go on and on with
                                this line of thought and I am interested in what you think. Anyone care
                                to weigh in?

                                Thanks for Everyting!
                                One Love, R
                                ++++++
                                “Likewise today, native people are encouraged to inhale the sweet smells
                                of the earth, see things in perspective, listen to both sides of every
                                story, and to speak only half as much as they listen.”
                                - Evan T. Pritchard, "No Word for Time"

                                “Hospitable people are also good listeners, which explains why listening
                                has long been considered one of the most important habits to cultivate
                                if we wish to get closer to God. In my own life I've found that when I
                                am able to listen carefully enough to anyone, listen to them with my
                                full heart, then the walls of separation come crumbling down. Martin
                                Buber believed that such "active listening" is not only the secret to
                                fulfilling relationships between people, but a vital passageway to faith.”
                                - Phillip L. Berman, "The Journey Home"

                                “Spiritual teaching has always pointed to the fact that everything in
                                creation has a sound, its own unique vibration. As conscious listeners
                                we may perceive more and more of what the universe is saying to us by
                                the simple act of listening. We can learn to appreciate each and every
                                sound.”
                                - Katherine Le Mee, "Chant"
                                ++++++
                              • Adam Klein
                                ... Oh, we could apply that idea WAY outside the field of drumming, but I d be preaching to the choir and getting off List topic. If you have been invited to
                                Message 15 of 18 , Sep 4 6:59 AM
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                                  The Reverend R wrote:



                                  > It seems the harder we play the harder we
                                  >need to listen to how it all fits together and if we can't hear the
                                  >others then surely we are playing too loudly. I could go on and on with
                                  >this line of thought and I am interested in what you think. Anyone care
                                  >to weigh in?

                                  Oh, we could apply that idea WAY outside the
                                  field of drumming, but I'd be preaching to the
                                  choir and getting off List topic.

                                  If you have been invited to solo, the by all
                                  means play out, because you're being listened to.
                                  When your turn is over, give someone else the
                                  floor.

                                  If you're in a circle of strong players and the
                                  only way to hear yourself is to play loud, then
                                  fine, but you're still contributing to the
                                  rhythm, not marching to your own drummer.

                                  Basically as long as you are the center of your
                                  own world you won't have much room in your
                                  Respect Circle for others to exist. We are not
                                  the center of the Earth, the Earth is not center
                                  of the solar system, the Sun is not the center of
                                  the galaxy, and the galaxy is not the center of
                                  the universe. We ARE the Earth, so get along.

                                  As go drum circles, so goes the planet? Why on Earth not?

                                  my two francs guinéens

                                  AK
                                • Adam Klein
                                  ... Well I ll be, it works. What we need is during a break in a circle rhythm for everyone to do whatever beat they were doing as a one-hand clap. Or not. AK
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Sep 4 7:02 AM
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                                    >Mark wrote
                                    >1 - hand out in front of you, little finger on the bottom, thumb &
                                    >index on the top
                                    >2 - tip of thumb to tip of middle finger - these stay this way
                                    >3 - all other fingers loose
                                    >4 - whip your hand down and up
                                    >The index will slap against the middle finger that is being
                                    >supported by the thumb on the upward whip, making a small slapping
                                    >sound that can be made louder with practice.

                                    Well I'll be, it works.

                                    What we need is during a break in a circle rhythm for everyone to do
                                    whatever beat they were doing as a one-hand clap.

                                    Or not.

                                    AK
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