Musical Instruments From
Africa

DJEMBÉ:   DRUM WITH A THOUSAND FACES

West Africa is home to the DJEMBÉ (DJ) drum, where it's played in such countries as Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Burkino Faso for a wide array of events and celebrations, both secular and sacred. The accompanying drums are the DOUNDOUN (DOUN), SANGBA (SAN) and KENKENI (KEN).
Our professional grade DJEMBÉ (DJ 1) is carefully hand-crafted from one tree trunk. Even the inner walls are smooth so that the sounds it emits are not distorted by having to traverse an uneven surface before they leave the drum body. The upper rim is rounded to protect both hand and drum head. We use a special pre-stretched nylon string manufactured in Germany and sent to the drum makers in Africa for lacing on the drums. This insures that every one of our DJEMBÉS has a solid lacing that will last and last. Before any DJEMBÉ leaves our showroom or warehouse, we put on the final touch by tuning it to a perfect pitch.
DJ 1 with KES : Djembé (DJ 1)    DJ 2 : Djembé (DJ 2)    DJ 3 : Djembé (DJ 3)

DOUNDOUN, SANGBA and KENKENI : Doundoun, Sangba and Kenkeni
go to audios click here to go to Djembé audios go to audios

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When we first introduced our DJEMBÉ at the Frankfurt Music Fair in 1986, people asked us what kind of "bongo drum" it was. Since then, this drum has won the hearts of drum enthusiasts throughout the world. And it's no wonder: even beginning drummers can have fun on the large playing surface and sensitive goat skin. From the flaming hot slaps to the booming bass, the DJEMBÉ is clearly the drum with a thousand faces.


The SABAR (SA) is the most important drum in Northern Senegal. It is integral to the cultural traditions of the Wolof people, the largest ethnic group in the country. Among the Wolof, you rarely find a SABAR drum played alone as a solo instrument. It is accompanied by the GORONG (GOR) and the M'BENG-M'BENG (MB).

SABAR 1 : SABAR (SA 1)    SABAR 2 : SABAR (SA 2)

Gorong (GOR) : Gorong (GOR)    M'Beng-M'Beng (MB) : M'Beng-M'Beng (MB)

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The TAMA (TAM) - a sort of "Talking Drum" whose tone is altered by pressure placed on the strings by the upper arm - is another major player in the lively dialogue between dancers and drummers in the Wolof culture :   TAMA (TAM)

Mini-Sabar (MIS) with unshaved rim, kid drum, handcarved solid wood body, goat skin. Mini-Djembé (MID) "Sankhal" with peg tuning, hand carved solid wood body, goat skin. Balaphone (BAL1), 9 tones, carved wooden slats with calabash sound bodies :   Mini-Sabar, Mini-Djembé, Balaphone

Half calabash (CA 6) with cauri shells. Wickered rattle (FL 4) with small handle. Rakatak (RAK), branch with decorated calabash pieces, sharp pitched sound. :   CA 6 - FL 4 - RAK

The "Thelevi" rattle (CA 5) consists of two hollowed gourds filled with pebbles. You hold the one in your hand and with a rhythmic swing, bring the other up to "clack" against it in polyrhythm :   Thelevi rattle

The traditional oral historians or "griots" throughout West Africa accompany their epic tales on the BALAPHONE (BAL) and CORA. Hollowed gourds attached to the bottom of the BALAPHONE amplify and enhance the sounds produced on the wooden slats. The CORA (KOR) is a stringed instrument that sounds much like a harp. Its body is formed by a large hollowed gourd or calabash.
Balaphone (BAL 2) : Balaphone (BAL 2)    Cora (KOR) : Cora (KOR)

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The GRASS HARP (GR) is made from the grasses of the Savannah. This hand harp has a soft sound :   Grass harp (GR)

If you are partial to soft, warm tones, your best bet is the BOUGARABOU (BOU), with its taut cowhide head - a drum with a well "rounded" sound - from expressive bass tones to precision slaps. This "African conga" originates in the south of Senegal, the Casamance region :   Bougarabou (BOU)

The WATER DRUM (WAS) produces a warm and mysterious sound: The tone of the overturned calabash floating on the water's surface varies according to the amount of air captured inside. The UNIVERSAL DRUM STAND (TST) is suitable for every type of drum and is adjustable in its height.
WAS :   Waterdrum (WAS)    TST :   Universal Drum Stand (TST)

Relax !
Once you've taken a seat in this hand-crafted Senegalese wooden chair, you won't want to get up again. Two slabs of solid wood come together here to create a chair that will last a lifetime. Available with or without carved ornamentation.
Chair (STU) :   Chair (STU)

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Ghana's OBRENTE (OP) and KPANLOGO (KPA) drums speak in a sweet, earth-bound tongue. The BREKETE (BL), the accompanying bass drum, has an extra hum that's produced by a string strung across the heads.
KPA :   Kpanlogo    OP and BL :   Oprente and Blekete

The talking drum DONDO (DON) puts its own two cents' in with the help of the drummer who squeezes it beneath the upper arm to change the tone as needed :   Dondo    Playing Dondo


The double bell or GONG-GONG (GO) gives the entire drum ensemble a point of orientation and the high-pitched "chick it ti chick" of the calabash rattle (CA 2) puts the "salt in the soup"! BEAN POD SHAKER (SB) with seeds, GRELLO (ID) iron castanets with an iron ring, BANANA BOAT BELL (BA) with iron stick.
GONG-GONG, SB, BA and ID :   Gong-Gong ...    CA 2 und CA 3.3 :   CA 2 ...

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An incredible variety of instruments originate in the Cameroon. Beginning with the SLIT DRUM (SCH), various types of FLUTES (FLÖ) and different kinds of shakers. Here you'll find calabashes covered with everything from wood chips (CA 1), seeds (CA 4), nuts from Raffia plant (CA 7) to dried bamboo shoots (CA 8). Each creates a different sound: from a high-pitched "click" to a dull "clack". The SLIT DRUM (SCH) is available in different kinds of wood.
Diverse-1 :   Diverse from Cameroon-1    SCH 2 and SCH 3 :   SCH 2 and SCH 3    Diverse-2 :   Diverse from Cameroon-2
Diverse-3 :   Diverse from Cameroon-3    Diverse-4 :   Diverse from Cameroon-4    Diverse-5 :   Diverse from Cameroon-5

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Our selection of Kenyan instruments includes the KAYAMBA (KAY) shaker, a THUMB PIANO (DAU 2) and a stick drum whose name sounds just like the instrument : N'DILI-N'DILI (RAS) :   Diverse from Kenya


One of the most interesting instruments from Zimbabwe is the M'BIRA (DAU 5). The metal tongues attached to the wooden body are plucked with the thumbs. The calabash (DAU 5.1) amplifies the sound of the M'BIRA Diverse from Zimbabwe


The DERBEKE (DAR) is an Arabian hand drum with an aluminum construction and a brightly colored synthetic overcoat :  Derbeke

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email to Sabar :  sabar@sabar.com
Website development: Thomas G. Mrotzeck