That Drum Talks Better Than I Do!

It's more than just an instrument!

History of the Talking Drum

The Talking Drum originated in West Africa, specifically by the Ashanti and Yoruba people of Ghana and Nigeria, and became very popular in West African music in the nineteenth through twentieth centuries. It is called the Talking Drum because its different pitches can mimic a human speaking. It does this because its hourglass-shaped body allows an echo of vibrations bounce inside the drum, and this is what causes it to "speak". This one-of-a-kind instrument was used to transmit messages between tribes miles apart from each other. It was way faster than someone physically traveling to and fro.

Animal skins and leathers were used to make the drum. They were stretched across the hour glass membrane constructed of hide, such as fish skins, and woven and held together by a series of thin ropes. Because there are many different tribes in West Africa alone, each Talking Drum was going to be different. Even though size varied, most followed a certain proportion between the total length of the drum and the width (diameter) of the drum head. The smallest length could range from 5 to 28 inches! The diameter could range from 2.75 to 7 inches! The Talking Drum is typically played with a stick that is banged against the head or heads of the instrument.

There is a game called "Papton" that is played in West African cultures. It requires four talking drums to communicate with each other, each making its own significant sound: "Pata", "Pon", "Don", and "Chaka". One person is the god, and the other three are his followers.

You may be asking yourself, "Why would I ever want or need a Talking Drum"? Well, everyone should get a Talking Drum! If you're the type of person to start doing something and become and expert the next day, this is for you! If you buy this, that mean guy in the apartment next door will think he'll be hearing voices. If you'd like to impress your friends with an amazing talent you've picked up overnight, this is for you. If you're having trouble fitting in or standing out at school, this drum will definitely help you to do so. The Talking drum will speak to you more than just with words, but with its uniqueness and style, too.

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The Talking Drum and Today

Unlike other instruments, the talking drum actually looke like an instrument. Many are made from few materials and looked like hunting materials or kitchen utensils. South African music is solely influenced on the perspective of people whereas Northern and Western African music are influenced on Islam. However, Western African tribes, as well as Southern Africa tribes, all use the Talking Drum. Even though different styles of making and using the drum were used, similar points were being and are made by using this instrument in many countries today.

Griots were storytellers, musicians, and poets. Griots were and are still used to keep culture preserved by memorizing and performing songs that were stories about past and current events. They were and are still sometimes employed by the government in some countries lacking vibrant culture or are fearful of losing their culture. Griots use the talking drum to communicate with other cultures and to show how unique of an instrument can help show the large amount of culture that is found in tribes and ethnic groups.

Today, communication is very expansive. From smart phones to satellites to sign language, there are many different ways of communicating. The Talking Drum is a good way of communicating, also, but it would be quite difficult to try and use it if you have never heard about or seen it before. Also, if it is raining or thunder storming or foggy outside, water particles can scatter the sound made from the drums. Smartphones and electronic communication are barely affected by natural affects such as weather, so in a way, modern communication is more effective and can be quicker.