The Beat Of A Djembe Drum

We recently attended a course at Lee Valley where we turned and built a djembe drum. Seriously, a djembe drum!

A djembe drum, pronounced ‘gem – bay’, is a large, goblet shaped African hand drum. The name, djembe, comes directly from the African saying “Anke dje, anke be” which literally translates to “everyone gather together” and defines the drum’s purpose. This was demonstrated at the end of the class when we all participated in a drum circle led by instructor Craig Reiner. 😉

Craig Reiner is a musician, educator, drum maker, and part-time Lee Valley Tools employee. As a timpanist/percussionist, Craig has performed with The Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, Nova Sinfonia, and Chebucto Orchestra. Craig has taught percussion in Halifax City and county schools, as well as the Maritime Consevatory. Craig began making drums in 1979 and has exhibited his work through the Nova Scotia Designer Craft Council.

The drum stands almost 15 inches tall and the drum heads is 10 inches in diameter. Traditionally, djembe drums use a skin covering, usually goat, as the drum head. However, in our case, for simplicity, we used a mylar head.

Here are some more photos:

The Beat Of A Djembe Drum
The Beat Of A Djembe Drum
The Beat Of A Djembe Drum
The Beat Of A Djembe Drum
The Beat Of A Djembe Drum
The Beat Of A Djembe Drum
The Beat Of A Djembe Drum
The Beat Of A Djembe Drum

We’ve taken a few course and they were all enjoyable but this was the most enjoyable one that we have taken. It was a lot of fun, certainly a different project, and the drum circle at the end was awesome!

It’s funny why we took the course because prior to a few months before we never even knew what a djembe drum was. Shortly before the course we were travelling through Maine and in one small town we counted three stores along their main street that were selling djembes. We thought it would have been strange for one to be selling them but three? We didn’t think anything more of it until a couple of weeks later when I saw an ad on Kijiji for a local drum circle event. This spurred our interest a bit and we did a bit of surfing and found out more about these drums. Less than a week later this course was announced and we figured that three instances within this short amount of time wasn’t just a coincidence. 🙂

Thanks, Craig, for a great time! Thanks to Lee Valley and Events Coordinator, Scott Croucher, too. This one was definitely a winner!

Now if we can just remember that beat… 🙂

Back to the shop…

4 replies on “The Beat Of A Djembe Drum“

  • Kevin Brown

    Very good job on this drum. I build custom djembes myself, and this is no easy task. Very well executed and I love the design. Are those burn marks with a wire? It’s a nice touch. If you get a chance you should totally take some time to learn how to head up the drum with rope and goatskin, it will sound so much better. How long was this class? Take care and thanks for sharing! -Kevin

    Reply
  • Woodworker's Guide

    Kevin, yes, some of the burn marks are made with wire, others by a wood burner. I hope to make the next one with a goatskin top. I have the goatskin, now just need the time 🙂 The class was a Friday evening and a Saturday but I think it is now a full two days.

    Reply

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