The Talking Drum

A cultural representation of West Africa

History of the Talking Drum

The drum's pitch and tone can be changed by the way it is struck. Tension and placement will move the pitch higher or lower like a person's voice. That is why it is called a talking drum. They serve many purposes in Mali, historically. First, jellis and griots would use them to help society to remember cultural events and people. They would also deliver messages across the land from the king. The people would know the nature of the message from the drum's tone. They are also used for religious rituals and the settling of disputes.

Cultural Significance of the Talking Drum

The Talking Drum was the main form of communication from village to village in the past. With little technology, news was passed on from the jelli's and griot's playing the drum. Now, it is mainly used for rituals but it holds a special place in Mali for what it once did to help villages function better.

Construction of the Talking Drum

The talking drum has two drum heads held together by strings. The drum has an hourglass shape and varies in size. The two drum heads allow for different pitches at once and faster paced drumming. The head is made up of goat skin and sometimes there are brass jingles on the edge.

Why you Should Purchase a Talking Drum

The Talking Drum could allow better communication in your household. Instead of ever having to yell at your kids that dinner is ready, you could just use this drum. Depending on the situation, you can use the drum to indicate that something is happening. If your kid is running late for school, beat the drum faster at a higher pitch to represent that there is an emergency. It works faster than phones, TV, and radio, too. Transmission and receiving is immediate.

Music in West Africa

Other types of music in West Africa were for entertainment, marking important days, or work songs to pass the time. West African music used instruments and vocals in layers to create polyrhythms. These parts were organized in circles.

Griot and Jelli

The Griot and Jelli used the talking drums to communicate with people. Even today they are highly respected for their ability to communicate through music. They spread news, messages of the king, issued warnings etc. They would also use it as a memory device to remember historical events since their job was to record these events.

Modern Day Communication

The Talking Drum did everything in terms of communication. It's no smartphone but it certainly told you the news, things from the past, provided storytelling entertainment, and much more. It combined the purpose of the radio, TV, and telephone, all into one.