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Structure of the Talking Drum
A Brief History
Talking drums are some of the oldest instruments used by West African griots with history that can be traced back to the Ghana Empire. The Hausa people (originally) and also the Yoruba people of south western Nigeria, and Benin and the Dagomba of northern Ghana have developed a a particular genre of griot music centering on the talking drum.
The cultural significance
The use of talking drums was most recognized as a form of communication between villages and people that may have been slightly far away. Detailed messages could be sent from one village to the next faster than could be carried by a person riding
a horse. Like languages such as Mandarin or Cantonese the African languages were tonal, meaning that the pitch is important in determining the meaning of a particular word. Therefore the drums and the change in tone that the drummer was able to create gave them the opportunity to beat in a sound representing a word of a syllable to connect with meaning.
Some of the many Names:
- Tama (Wolof of Senegal)
- Gan gan, Dun Dun (Yoruba of Nigeria and eastern Benin)
- Dondo (Akan of central Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire)
- Lunna (Dagomba of northern Ghana; Mossi of Burkina Faso)
- Kalangu (Hausa of northern Nigeria, Niger, northern Ghana, Benin and Cameroon)
- Doodo (Songhai and Zarma of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger)
Black with leather material
Allows for a stronger grip on the instrument
Tan and Brown
Gives the drummer a more comfortable control on the tones and the show a more varied tone in the sounds.
Multicolored design and roped strings
Provides a means for personal expression through the design and the flexible tones of the instrument.