Talking Drum

The Human-like African Drum!

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Hourglass shaped talking drums are some of the oldest instruments used by West African griots and their history can be traced back to the Yoruba people, the Ghana Empire, and the Hausa people. The Yoruba people of south western Nigeria and Benin and the Dagomba of northern Ghana have developed a highly sophisticated genre of griot music centering on the talking drum. This construction was limited to within the contemporary borders of West Africa.

Cultural Significance

In their culture, the traditional music of Africa is passed down by oral tradition. Therefore, this "talking" drum, with human-like vocal noises, mimics the oral traditional music. Story-telling was closely linked to music, and forms of music included myths, folk tales, historical accounts, epics and praise poems. Like said before, the talking drums are able to tell stories through their music with their different pitches and rhythms that they can offer. African music helps create a stronger sense of support among the community.

Talking Drum Construction

The talking drums are a type of membranophone. Unlike many drums used in America, talking drums have a drum head on both sides. The drum takes the shape of an hourglass and has strings that connect the two drum heads. Talking drums vary in size. Overall, playing styles are closely linked with the drum's construction and tonal qualities of each language. For instance, there is a clear difference in playing styles between areas with predominantly Fulani and Mande-speaking populations.

Why purchase a talking drum?

Well, why not!! You can express your speech and thoughts/expression through a simple instrument! The talking drum is one of the oldest instruments in Africa, so you will impress all of your peer with this throwback instrument. These drums are not only a way to convey a message through the music played, but they create a great sound and can be used as a way to communicate between other people! A talking drum is the answer to all of your music prayers!

Extra Information

- In West Africa, there are many different instruments that can be compared in terms of use to the talking drums. Chordophones used in West African music include one-stringed fiddles and lutes such as the ngoni and the kora, which is a hybrid between a lute and a harp played with both hands. Vocal music is important in African cultures and solo music was common as well as choral music. The talking drums were classified as vocal music in that the instrument sounded like human vocals. On the other hand, the kora can be classified as a solo instrument where the music is based solely on the instrument itself. However, both instruments entertain, take part in rituals and ceremonies, and create a rhythm to complete tasks.

- The West African griot is a traditional role taken on by a member of the community. It is the griot's job to tell stories, compose new stories and poetry, and also sing and play music. Therefore, it is one of the griot's job to learn and play a talking drum. They are credited with preserving West African history by learning, memorizing and performing sung stories about past events, in addition to composing sung stories about current events. Their knowledge is passed down via oral tradition between generation of griots in families.

- In today's world, there is modern-day technology for communication. As talking drums were used as a way to communicated between villages, cell phones are a new and improved way of communication. Talking drums could only communicated so much because you cannot specify what you are trying to exactly say through the sounds of instruments. On the other hand, on a cell phone, you can directly communicate and speak words to another person.