Djembe and Mande Music/Mande Cross Reference 
(last revision 4/24/2001)
Your feedback is always appreciated!

12/8 DUNUN PRACTICE PATTERNS



RETURN TO DUNUN PRACTICE PATTERNS IN 4/4

With this set, begin with #1A, #1B, and #1C as a series. Then move on to the #2 series, then the #3 series, etc.
 
PULSE 1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 .
SHORT BELL x . x . x x . x . x . x
DRUM #1A i . . o . . i . . o . .
DRUM #1B o . . i . . o . . i . .
BELL x . . x . . x . . x . .
DRUM #1C o . (o) . (o) (o) . o . o . o
      a   b c            

Once you are comfortable with #1C, then leave out note "a", then leave out "a + b", then leave out "a, b + c"
 
PULSE 1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 .
LONG BELL x . x . x . x x . x . x
DRUM #2A i . . o . . i . . o . .
DRUM #2B o . . i . . o . . i . .
BELL x . . x . . x . . x . .
DRUM #1CD o . (o) . (o) . (o) o . o . o
      a   b   c          

(Same as above #1C above OR: choose "a, b or c" and play as press (i) notes)
 
PULSE 1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 .
SOLI BELL x . x . x . x . x x . x
DRUM #3A i . . o . . i . . o . .
DRUM #3B o . . i . . o . . i . .
BELL x . . x . . x . . x . .
DRUM #3C o .  o  . o . o . o o . o

 
PULSE 1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 .
BELL x . x x . x x . x x . x
DRUM #4A i . . o . . i . . o . .
DRUM #4B o . . i . . o . . i . .
BELL x . . x . . x . . x . .
DRUM #4C o . o o . o o . o o . o

 
PULSE 1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 .
BELL x x . x x . x x . x x .
DRUM #5A i . . o . . i . . o . .
DRUM #5B o . . i . . o . . i . .
BELL x . . x . . x . . x . .
DRUM #5C o o . o o . o o . o o .

 
PULSE 1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 .
BELL x . . x . , x . . x . .
DRUM #6A . o o . o o . o o . o o
BELL . x . x x . x x . x x
DRUM #6B i . .  o . . i . . o . .
DRUM #6C o . . i . . o . . i . .
DRUM #6D . o o . o o . o o . o o
DRUM #6E . . o . . o . . o . . o
BELL x . x . x . x . x . x .
DRUM #6F . . o . o o . . o . o o
BELL . x x . x x . x x . x x
DRUM #6G . . o . o o . . o . o o

 
PULSE 1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 .
BELL x . . x . . x . . x . .
DRUM #7A . o . o . i . o . o . i
DRUM #7B . o o . . i . o o . . i
DRUM #7C . . o o . i . . o o . i

 
PULSE 1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 .
Use the SHORT, LONG or SOLI bell patterns with: 
DRUM #8A o . o o . o o . o o . o
DRUM #8B o o   o o . o o . o o .
DRUM #8C . o o . o o . o o . o o

My opinion is that it is useful for the beginning player to also experiment with tapping a foot, or stepping to the underlying pulse (indicated here by the numbers 1 - 4) .  One way to help develop this ability is to have the feet "play" the basic pulse while also playing the bell, as in the 4/4 patterns: 1A, 2A, 3A, 5A and 6A, as well in the 12/8 patterns 1A-6A.  I know there are differing opinions about the usefulness of foot tapping - I have observed that many African dunun players tend to unconsciously dance or step to the pulse while playing. (I'm also aware that there is often an underlying pulsation cycle of three in Mande drumming, especially in the 12/8 rhythms.)  If you are using a drum machine for practice you might experiment with programming a shaker sound to represent the pulse, as a cue for stepping or foot tapping. Here is an example of this concept using the short bell.
 
PULSE 1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 .
SHORT BELL x . x . x x . x . x . x
DRUM  o . . i . . o . . i . .
FOOT TAP T . . T . . T . . T . .
STEP  R   .   L   .   .   R   .   .   L   .   . 
BELL x . . x . . x . . x . .
DRUM #1D o . (o) . (o) (o) . o . o . o
      a   b c . . . . . .

One last set of patterns I have found useful to strengthen the drum/stick hand, as well as develop speed and stamina are:
 
PULSE 4/4 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . .
BELL x . x . x . x . x . x . x . x .
DRUM o o o . i . . . o o o . i . . .
  o o o . i . . o o o o . i . . o
  o  o   o  o  i   .  .  .   o  o  o   i  .  . 

...it's great to learn all drum patterns not only with their foundational bell pattern, but also with straight or double-time bell. Eventually the drum/stick hand frees up and is able to play "off the bell" (as in the above exercise or in 4/4  #1C or #1E double-time bell), while the bell pattern continues and holds you in the groove. Here's a couple of traditional rhythms in which the drum can be played off the bell:
 
 PULSE 4/4 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . .
BELL  x x . x . x x . x . x x . x x .
DUNUN o . o . . . . . . . o . . . o

 
PULSE 12/8 1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 .
BELL x . x x . x x . x x . x
DUNUN o . o . . i . . o . o .

If you have found these patterns and concepts useful for your practice, I also recommend you look into the 7 Wheels of Bembe or Clave for further permutations:

http://rhythmweb.com/shed/index.htm
http://www.drums.org/djembefaq/v5cbembe.htm

Michael Wall
(808)737-3786

Special thanks to Paul Nas for his help in settling up the tables used on this page.  Here is a link to Paul's
West African Percussion Pages.

RETURN TO DUNUN PRACTICE PATTERNS IN 4/4

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