The Talking Drum

History and Region

Hourglass shaped drums are some of the oldest instruments in West African gatherings. Their history can be traced back to the Ghana Empire. The Hausa people developed the talking drum to mimic the voices of humans.

Cultural Significance

Their significance is recording, preserving and sharing their communities histories and to help them remember important people and events.


The drum is an hourglass shape, and typically a length of 5 inches, 2.75 inch drum head diameter that produces a high pitched sound.

Reasons to buy

Someone would want to buy one for a piece of art in their house, or for cultural ties. They could also do it for curiosity in the sound or as a novelty.

Compare to other uses of music

Playing styles are linked to the construction and tonal qualities of each language. In the west, the style is rapid rolls and short bursts of sound. In the east, the style is long and sustained notes which sounds rubbery and heavy.

Compared to griot

The Jelli's used the talking drums to remember important people and events and to communicate messages. They were also used for sacred riots and story telling.

Related to modern day

Today, we use cell phones, the internet, social media, and texting in order to communicate quickly and efficiently. It allows people worldwide to communicate with each other, not just from town to town. However, a talking drum is much cooler and your friends will be very intrigued by the way it sounds.
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