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  #1  
Old 06-01-2009, 07:02 PM
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Default Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

Which sticks and brushes are least damaging to a calfskin head on a djembe? (Thanks for your help!)
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Old 06-01-2009, 07:14 PM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

Your hands......seriously ...a calfskin or goatskin djembe should really only be played with your bare hards. Using sticks etc will probably only result in damaging the head/drum.
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Old 06-01-2009, 08:17 PM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

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Originally Posted by druid View Post
Your hands......seriously ...a calfskin or goatskin djembe should really only be played with your bare hards. Using sticks etc will probably only result in damaging the head/drum.
Traditionally, that's how these drums are played. But I think Sable is seeking to play them in a non-traditional way.

I would use the lightest sticks possible, even rutes/bundled sticks might be good. Goatskin is thin and djembes are usually at high tensions so it would be easy to break a head with a conventional drum stick. Just about any brushes would do

Research Jay Bellerose. He uses a djembe in place of a snare on his kit and does a lot of other things-you're-not-supposed-to-do with drums and percussion.
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Old 06-01-2009, 08:36 PM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

If you do have a calf-skin drum, it is thicker than goat and as long as it isn't cranked you could probably hit it with a stick for a while until it finally gives. You will probably do some amount of damage to the rim as well I'm guessing, so make sure if you do this that you disclose the fact that you played it with sticks to anyone you might sell it to in the future.
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Old 06-01-2009, 10:24 PM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

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Originally Posted by Deathmetalconga View Post
Traditionally, that's how these drums are played. But I think Sable is seeking to play them in a non-traditional way.

I would use the lightest sticks possible, even rutes/bundled sticks might be good. Goatskin is thin and djembes are usually at high tensions so it would be easy to break a head with a conventional drum stick. Just about any brushes would do

Research Jay Bellerose. He uses a djembe in place of a snare on his kit and does a lot of other things-you're-not-supposed-to-do with drums and percussion.
Thanks, DMC, I should have clarified - yes, I'm talking about non-traditional here. I saw a Clayton Cameron solo where he uses brushes (with metal wires) on a cajon, and thought I'd try it with my djembe. However, I really don't want to damage the head, hence the question.

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If you do have a calf-skin drum, it is thicker than goat and as long as it isn't cranked you could probably hit it with a stick for a while until it finally gives. You will probably do some amount of damage to the rim as well I'm guessing, so make sure if you do this that you disclose the fact that you played it with sticks to anyone you might sell it to in the future.
The last thing I want to do is damage the drum itself, since it was a gift and it actually came from Ghana. In fact, if damaging the rim is inevitable, I won't even try it.

And for all the purists out there, don't worry, I'm primarily focusing on learning the traditional way to play too!
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  #6  
Old 06-01-2009, 10:33 PM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

If you are concerned about damaging it at all I would suggest buying one of those synthetic toy djembes to play with sticks. You would damage the head for certain if not the rim by playing a djembe with sticks. Brushes would probably be harmless, but you might gouge the skin playing brush patterns depending on your technique.

Like I always tell my 2 year old son, "we don't play djembe with sticks"...
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  #7  
Old 06-01-2009, 10:47 PM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

Hey Garvin, not even with these? :)

Just curious, do you think there's a situation where playing djembe with your hands would not be ideal? Do you think the same about hand drums in general?
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Old 06-02-2009, 12:06 AM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

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Originally Posted by Sable View Post
Hey Garvin, not even with these? :)

Just curious, do you think there's a situation where playing djembe with your hands would not be ideal? Do you think the same about hand drums in general?
Whoa, never seen that before, very cool!

And he's playing an authentic Remo Acousticon drum. A lot of people look down on Remos because they have wood composite shells and plastic heads, but then again, so do 90 percent of Western trap set drums. This has to be the most stereotype-breaking video I've seen here in a long time.
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  #9  
Old 06-02-2009, 03:18 AM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

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Originally Posted by Sable View Post
Hey Garvin, not even with these? :)

Just curious, do you think there's a situation where playing djembe with your hands would not be ideal? Do you think the same about hand drums in general?
No sticks or brushes on djembe for me thanks. There are styles of "hand drumming" which call for sticks. I'll go with those when its called for, but I'd rather apply the proper technique to the proper instrument. I'm not saying that one can't or shouldn't do this, but I choose to stick to the traditional styles that I learn rather than blaze my own trail of spirit thunder.

These two should get together and record an album...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVv-g5-vjP8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9ypyf--joY
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Last edited by Garvin; 06-02-2009 at 03:31 AM.
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Old 06-02-2009, 04:01 PM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

I have a djembe in my kit. I usually play it with hands but every now and then I tap it with wire brushes at low volume as a variation. I have to be very paricular about where and how I hit it or it sounds bleagh. I might use mallets on it if the song calls for it.

I never use sticks on it because once the head's damaged, that's it!

The skin doesn't seem to be as tough as normal synthetic drum heads. Sticks concentrate power to a very small area whereas hands and wire brushes spread the force out more. It's like what they say about a stiletto having more force per square inch than an elephant's foot.
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Old 06-02-2009, 05:16 PM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

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Originally Posted by Deathmetalconga View Post
Whoa, never seen that before, very cool!

And he's playing an authentic Remo Acousticon drum. A lot of people look down on Remos because they have wood composite shells and plastic heads, but then again, so do 90 percent of Western trap set drums. This has to be the most stereotype-breaking video I've seen here in a long time.
That's exactly what puzzles me about some people - they'll play a kit with synthetic heads and lugs drilled into the shell, even congas with synthetic heads and lugs, but the djembe MUST be natural skin and rope-tuned. Why is that? Am I missing something?
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:58 PM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

I have the exact same Remo Djembe that guy has...even the "earth" color scheme. Nice drums....but it took me awhile to get it to sound like an aunthentic Djembe....I usually use on small moongel on it also as the original sound is more pnigy than a traditional goatskinned Djembe.
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Old 06-02-2009, 09:21 PM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

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Originally Posted by Sable View Post
That's exactly what puzzles me about some people - they'll play a kit with synthetic heads and lugs drilled into the shell, even congas with synthetic heads and lugs, but the djembe MUST be natural skin and rope-tuned. Why is that? Am I missing something?
The djembe is a very tradition-bound instrument and wasn't integrated into our musical culture like other instruments were. For Afro-Cuban instruments, for example, masters from Cuba were really the ones calling for and adopting innovations like mechanical tuning and metal hardware 50 years ago.

The djembe, for whatever reasons, seems to found its introduction in the U.S. in large measure through white people at drum circles (note I said "in large measure," not "exclusively"). Since it's not "their" indigenous instrument, they're probably really self-conscious about modifying it. Not to be too snide, but if you research www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com, white people have a strong preference for authenticity and genuine items and modifying the djembe in any way might reduce its authenticity and the "snob factor," of which I myself am guilty sometimes, owning a solid-shell drumset, which is impossible to out-authenticate.

And that, I think, is why most hand drummers have never even seen a traditional solid-shell rope tuned conga, but would run away from you if they saw you playing a wood composite mechanically-tuned djembe

Of course, I'm just babbling and I could be way off base. If someone has a better explanation I'd be happy to hear it.
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Old 06-02-2009, 09:27 PM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

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Originally Posted by Sable View Post
Hey Garvin, not even with these? :)

Just curious, do you think there's a situation where playing djembe with your hands would not be ideal? Do you think the same about hand drums in general?
Garvin is rooted in traditional playing approaches and that determines what is ideal for him. There are some hand drums that are indeed played with sticks as well as hands in a traditional context. There may be some ethnic instruments that are only played with sticks, others only with the hand. For reasons of tradition and practicality (i.e., not damaging the instrument) Garvin would likely see no situation where playing djembe with sticks would be ideal.
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Old 06-03-2009, 04:20 PM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

I think it is also a sound thing as well...honestly with Djembe the idea is to work Bass tones...Open tones and slaps...none of those can really be achieved with a stick. Then again I know people play drumset with hands from time to time as well. So who is to say?
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Old 06-03-2009, 04:43 PM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

I know people who play "prepared piano" which is retuned, and usually has things all stuck in the strings such as clothes pins and found pieces of metal. There are people who make trumpets out of seaweed and even an orchestra which constructs something resembling classical instruments out of fresh produce. I think all of these things are really neat, but I don't think a carrot flute sounds like an actual piccolo.

Generally speaking, when I hear people use different approaches to these instruments, they do so in order to achieve very specific textures and soundscapes for specific reasons (movie soundtracks, texture etc..) I don't get offended by it. I'd almost rather see someone who has no idea how to play a djembe using sticks or brooms, or leeks on a Remo drum rather than watch some shirtless dreadlock dude rock out with his tie-dyed bedsheet on youtube. I follow a thread devoted to toxic hand-drumming videos on another forum as well. I just worry that someone who is genuinely curious and looking for some direction might accidentally wander into some charlatan's video. All of the sudden think "look ma, I'm playing a jambay!"

But I know how it goes, just look how many hacks own drum sets (raises hand).
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Old 06-03-2009, 05:30 PM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

I confess ...

I have gently played my Drumskull djembes, bugarabu and congas with soft mallets just to hear the sound they would make. I have also used the mallets on my Cooperman tar and bendir.

But, these were experiments only; I am a trained percussionist so please do not try this at home folks.

;-)

GJS
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  #18  
Old 06-03-2009, 05:32 PM
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Default Re: Sticks/brushes for calfskin djembe?

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I confess ...

I have gently played my Drumskull djembes, bugarabu and congas with soft mallets just to hear the sound they would make. I have also used the mallets on my Cooperman tar and bendir.

But, these were experiments only; I am a trained percussionist so please do not try this at home folks.

;-)

GJS
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Just kidding... I've played a tar with mallets before... It's a Remo as well:)
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