I Can Talk To a Drum!

You Should Talk to them Too!

By: Hannah Phillips

History of the Talking Drum

Talking drums are some of the oldest instruments used by West African griots and they can be tracked back to the Ghana Empire. There are many variants to the talking drum that essentially have the same construction, that is sophisticated griot music.

Cultural Significance of the Talking Drum

The main purpose of talking drums is to use them for communication, and to send messages across villages. The African villages know the sound of the drum and they can understand the drum to see if their is a warning, celebration, or other message being transported. Talking drums are also used for religious ceremonies, and to tell sacred stories. The drums also help to bring people together from other tribes, and help to settle disputes among members in villages.

The Construction of the Talking Drum

The Talking Drums are often an hourglass shape. They are usually made from a single piece of wood and topped with goatskin. They are also equipped with leather cords that can be used to adjust the tones. Sometimes bells and a circle of beeswax are added onto the drum heads to produce even more musical variation.

Why You Should Purchase a Talking Drum

You should purchase a talking drum because they are really entertaining and will be a really fun way to add something different to parties or celebrations. Also it is really cool to own a talking drum because it provides so much cultural background that you can share with other family members or friends.

Talking Drums and Other West African Music

The talking drum recently became part of popular music in West African. It is used in playing the Mbalax in Senegal. It was also used in tracks made by a popular West African singer, King Crimson.

The Talking Drum and the Griots

Griots are the musicians in West Africa. They used the Talking Drum all the time to preserve and share their community's culture located in Mali. They were also used as memory devices and were big in also using them as their main resource of communication with other villages.

The Talking Drum and Modern Day Technology

The talking drum relates a lot to modern day technology like cell phones. It acts just like a communication device. Other villages can hear messages from the drum and realize what it's saying. This is why it is called the "Talking Drum" because it has its own language that other West African villages can understand, just like how we communicate through a cell phone with our friends in our language.