The " Talking Drum"

By: Haley Floyd

History of the "Talking Drum"

The "Talking Drums" history can be traced back to the Ghana Empire. Hour glass shaped drums were used by West African griots; These are some of the oldest instruments. Many variants of the talking drum exist. The Hausa people developed a highly sophisticated genre of griot music centering on the talking drum. The Yoruba people of south western Nigeria and Benin and the Dagomba of northern Ghana were influenced by this. The variations of the drums all have almost the same construction.

Cultural Significance of the "Talking Drum"

The "Talking Drum" is drum whose pitch can be regulated to mimic the tone and prosody of human speech. This drum a West African Hourglass drum. "Talking Drums" were used as a form of communication; Detailed messages could be sent from village to village faster than a message could be carried by a person riding a horse. Roger T. Clarke said "the signals represent the tones of the syllables of conventional phrases of a traditional and highly poetic character." The predominant style of playing is characterized by rapid rolls and short bursts of sound between the stick holding hand and accompanying free hand. Eastern playing style of the talking drum is centered on producing long and sustained notes by hitting the drum head with the stick-holding hand and the accompanying free hand used to dampen and change tones immediately

Construction of the "Talking Drum"

Various sizes of hourglass talking drum exist. The dimensions of the drums differ between ethnic groups, but all follow the same template.

The Tama: Known for its smaller dimensions, total drum length typical of 13 cm (5 inches) with a 7 cm (2.75 inch) drum head diameter. This produces a much higher pitched tone.

Lunna and Dùndún: Known for its large dimensions, length of 23-38 cm (9-15 inches) and a drum head diameter of between 10-18 cm (4-7 inches).

Why to purchase a "Talking Drum"

A good reason to purchase a "Talking Drum" is because it is a unique way of communication. The "Talking Drum" allows you to send messages, express your feeling, and talk to others with out saying a word! The tones of the drum represent syllables which make phrases. Using the "Talking Drum" you can send someone a message from far away and they will revive it faster than by sending a letter.