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Jim's Drum Rhythm Transcriptions

http://www.newview.org/salem/rhythm.html

Drum Rhythm Transcriptions


Introduction
Here you will find transcriptions of rhythms I have learned over the years.
While I have tried to give credit where appropriate, please assume that any
mistakes are my own. Publishing rhythm transcriptions is a tricky business:
Rhythms are played differently in different areas.
Even within neighboring African villages, rhythms of the same name
may be played differently. Unless you are from the culture, no
transcription can be deemed authoritative. Likewise a rhythm's (or
drum's) name and spelling will vary.
Notation cannot capture the feel of rhythm.
To fully learn a rhythm, you must know its feel. Some rhythms have a
staccato sound, some are rolling, others have a swing feel. Notation
cannot adequately capture this.
Traditional rhythms are part of a culture.
A transcription ignores a rhythm's reason for being. It ignores the
people who have created and passed down the rhythm.
Respect those who have created the music in the world. To learn traditional
rhythms, take classes with the masters.
Listen before you play. Communicate. Open your heart.

Contents
West African
Donba
Fanga
Kakilambe
Lamba
Mandjani
Tor(d)o
Hatian/Cuban
Banda
Yenvalou (two versions: Classique and Rasombler)
Zepaule
Other
Ollin Arageed
Bibliography

Tor(d)o

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Jim's Drum Rhythm Transcriptions

http://www.newview.org/salem/rhythm.html

Learned from:
Mamady Keita (9/95)
Description:
A boy's initiation rite from the Malinke people of NE Ghana.
Transcribed By:
Jim Salem
Drums:
Kankini
High bass drum. Played with sticks.
Sangba
Middle bass drum with bell. Played with sticks.
Low bass drum with bell. Played with sticks. Important:
Dundunba This part is twice as long as the other parts (it repeats
only every two measures).
Djembe
Hand drum.
Notation:
Mf
Muffled sound made by pressing stick against drum head.
Gn
Open bass tone. Pronounced "Gune".
X
Bell
Go or Do Open tone.
Pa or Ta Slap.
Ck
Two-handed slap. Also known as a flam. Pronounced "Crack."

Kankini
Sangba
Dundunba
Dundunba
cont'd

1
.
X
Gn
X
Gn

.
.
X
Gn
X
Gn

&
Gn
.
.
.
.

.
Gn
X
.
X
.

2
.
X
Mf
X
.

.
.
.
.
.
.

&
Mf
X
Mf
X
.

.
.
.
.
.
.

3
.
X
Mf
X
.

.
.
.
.
.
.

&
Gn
(X)
.
X
Gn

.
Gn
.
.
X
Gn

4
.
X
Gn
.
.

.
.
.
.
X
Gn

&
Mf
X
Gn
X
Gn

.
.
.
.
.
.

Gn
Do
.
.
.

.
.
.
.
Go

.
Gn
Gn
Ta
Do

.
Pa
Pa
Pa
.

.
.
.
.
Do

.
Pa
Pa
Go
.

.
.
.
Do
Do

.
Pa
Pa
Pa
Go

.
.
.
.
.

.
.
.
.
Pa

.
Gn
Gn
Ta
Ta

.
Pa
Pa
Pa
Pa

.
.
.
.
.

.
Pa
Pa
Go
.

.
.
.
Do
.

Gn
Djembe #1
Go
(first time) Pa
Djembe #2
Pa
Break
Ck

Fanga
Learned from:
Various teachers
Description:
This is a song of welcome from West Africa. There are many variations
of this popular rhythm. Sometimes spelled "Funga".
Transcribed By:
Jim Salem
2 de 11

20/07/2004 19:00

Jim's Drum Rhythm Transcriptions

http://www.newview.org/salem/rhythm.html

Song:
One version of the song goes as follows. Each verse lasts for two
measures.
Fanga Alafia Ash Ash
Fanga Alafia Ash Ash
Ash Ash Ash Ash
Ash Ash Ash Ash
Drums:
JunJun Bass drum with bell. Played with sticks.
Djembe Hand drum.
Notation:
Gn
Open bass tone. Pronounced "Gune".
Mf
Muffled sound made by pressing stick against drum head.
X
Bell.
Go or Do Open tone.
Pa or Ta Slap.
Ck
Two-handed slap. Also known as a flam. Pronounced "Crack."
Comments:
1) I have not learned a traditional Junjun part to Fanga and am unsure
whether there is one. In practice, the Junjun part listed fits well with
piece.
2) The Djembe variations are less commonly known but, if played well,
add considerable richness. If the cannot be played precisely it is better
not to add them as otherwise they tend to muddy the rhythm.
3) The break is played on Djembe to start or stop the rhythm.
4) There are many variations on this rhythm. This particular one is
popular in Boston and in the northeast.
1

Djembe
Gn .
(main)
Djembe
Go Do
(high)
Djembe (var
Gn .
#1)
Djembe (var
Gn .
#2)
.
.
Junjun
Gn .
Break
Ck .

&

Go .

Gn Gn .

&

Go Do .

Go Do .

Go Do Gn .

Gn .

X X .
.
X
.
.
Mf .
.
Pa Ta .
Ta .

Gn .

Gn .

Go Do .

Go Do Gn .
.

&

Gn .

X X
Gn .
Pa .

Go Do .

Go Do .

Gn .

Gn Go Do Gn .

X .
.
.
Gn .
Ta Pa .

&

.
.
Mf .
Pa .

Go Do
.

X
.
.

X
.
.

Kakilambe
Learned from:
Various teachers
Description:
3 de 11

20/07/2004 19:00

Jim's Drum Rhythm Transcriptions

http://www.newview.org/salem/rhythm.html

While widely known and played throughout the USA, this version differs
from most African versions. Often played very fast.
Transcribed By:
Jim Salem
Drums:
JunJun Bass drum with bell. Played with sticks.
Djembe Hand drum.
Notation:
Gn
Open bass tone. Pronounced "Gune".
X
Bell.
Go or Do Open tone.
Pa or Ta Slap.
Comments:
1) There are two JunJun parts. First, the slow part is played. As the
rhythm speeds up, the fast version is played. Note that the slow
version is two measures long --- play the measures in succession.
2) The slap in the main djembe part is key. Be sure to enunciate it.
3) The two djembe variations are interlocking and should be played
together. Unless they can be played very accurately, they are best
omitted as the rhythm speeds up.

1
Djembe
(main)
Djembe (var
#1)
Djembe (var
#2)
Junjun
(slow)
first
measure
Junjun
(slow)
second
measure
Junjun (fast)

Gn .

&

Do Go .

&

&

Pa .

Gn .

Go .

Go .

Pa .

Go .

Go .

Go Do Go .

Go Do Go .

Go .

Go .

Gn .

Gn .

Gn .

Gn .

.
.
Gn .

X
.

X
.

.
.
Mf .

X
.

X
.

.
.
Gn .

X
.

X
.

&

X X
Gn .

.
.
Mf .

Lamba
Learned from:
Various teachers
Description:
This is a celebratory wedding song from West Africa.

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Jim's Drum Rhythm Transcriptions

http://www.newview.org/salem/rhythm.html

Transcribed By:
Jim Salem
Drums:
JunJun Bass drum with bell. Played with sticks.
Djembe Hand drum.
Notation:
Gn
Open bass tone. Pronounced "Gune".
X
Bell.
Go or Do Open tone.
Pa or Ta Slap.
Comments:
1) This should be played with a triplet feel -- the upbeats (i.e., dots)
are played slightly closer to the downbeats (i.e., numbered beats). For
the main djembe part this sounds like ta-Gn pa ta-go do-pa ta-Gn...

Djembe (main)
Djembe (solo)
JunJun
Bell

1
Gn
Pa
Gn
.

.
.
.
.
.

2
Pa
.
Gn
X

.
Ta
Gn
.
X

3
Go
Pa
Gn
.

.
Do
.
.
.

4
Pa
Go
.
X

.
Ta
Do
Gn
X

Mandjani
Learned from:
Various teachers
Description:
There are many variations of this popular rhythm from West Africa. This
seems closest to the version played in Mali.
Transcribed By:
Jim Salem
Drums:
JunJun Bass drum with bell. Played with sticks.
Djembe Hand drum.
Notation:
Gn
Open bass tone. Pronounced "Gune".
Mf
Muffled sound made by pressing stick against drum head.
X
Bell.
Go or Do Open tone.
Pa or Ta Slap.
Comments:

5 de 11

20/07/2004 19:00

Jim's Drum Rhythm Transcriptions

http://www.newview.org/salem/rhythm.html

1) The interlocking JunJun parts are key to this piece. It's better to
have more JunJuns than Djembes.
2) The solo Djembe part is really just a starting point. It is played
with a "swing" feel that is difficult to describe.

Djembe (main)
which hand
Djembe (solo)
JunJun #1
JunJun #2
JunJun #3
Bell

1
Pa
R
Go
Gn
.
Gn
X

.
.
Do
.
.
.
.

.
Go
L
Pa
Gn
Mf
Gn
X

2
Pa
R
Ta
.
.
.
X

.
.

.
Gn
L
Gn Pa
.
.
Gn Gn
.
Mf
.
X

3
Pa
R
Ta
Gn
.
.
X

.
.

.
Go
L
Gn Pa
.
Gn
.
Mf
.
Gn
.
X

4
Pa
R
Ta
.
.
.
.

.
.

.
Gn
L
Gn Pa
.
.
Gn Gn
Gn .
X
.

Donba
Learned from:
Various teachers, particularly Dean Buchanan
Description:
A popular dance from West Africa. Often called "Mandjani" in the
Boston area.
Transcribed By:
Jim Salem
Drums:
Dundunda Low bass drum with bell.
Sangba
High bass drum with bell.
Djembe
Hand drum.
Notation:
Gn
Open bass tone. Pronounced "Gune".
Mf
Muffled sound made by pressing stick against drum head.
X
Bell.
Go or Do Open tone.
Pa or Ta Slap.
Comments:
1) The interlocking JunJun parts are key to this piece. It's better to
have more JunJuns than Djembes.
2) The solo Djembe part is really just a starting point. It is played
with a "swing" feel that is difficult to describe.

Dundunba

6 de 11

1
.
X
.
Gn .

.
X
.

2
.
.

.
.
X
.
Gn .

3
.
X
.
Gn .

.
X
.

4
.
X
.
Gn .

.
X
.

20/07/2004 19:00

Jim's Drum Rhythm Transcriptions

Sangba
Sangba (var.)
Djembe #1
Djembe #1 (var.)
Djembe #2
Break

http://www.newview.org/salem/rhythm.html

X
Gn
Gn
Pa
Pa
Pa
Pa
Ck

.
.
.
.
.
.
Ta
.

X
Gn
Gn
Go
Go
Ta
Pa
Go

X
.
Gn
Pa
Pa
.
Ta
Do

.
.
.
.
.
Go
Pa
.

X
Mf
.
Gn
.
Do
Ta
Go

X
.
.
Pa
Pa
Pa
Pa
Do

.
.
.
.
.
.
Ta
.

X
Gn
Gn
Go
Go
Ta
Pa
Go

.
.
.
Pa
Pa
.
Ta
Do

X
Gn
.
.
.
Go
Pa
.

.
.
.
Gn
.
Do
Ta
.

Yenvalou
Learned from:
Bonnie Devlin
Description:
Haitian Vodun ceremonial rhythm in praise of Legba. There are several
versions of Yenvalou which may be played during the course of a
ceremony. I've transcribed Classique and Rasombler. They differ only in
the Seconde parts.
Transcribed By:
Jim Salem
Instruments:
High drum. Played with two thin sticks using a whipping
Bula
motion.
Seconde Middle "conga" drum.
Low "conga" drum. One hand plays bass; the other hand
Maman
plays on the side of the drum using a stick.
Ogan
Bell
Assn
Type of shaker
Notation:
X Beat on Ogan or Assn.
R Right stick stroke on the bula.
L Left stick stroke on the bula.
S Slap on seconde.
T Open tone on seconde.
Muffled slap on seconde. "Dry" sound. Right hand plays the sound
Ms
while left hand rests on the drum.
Mt Muffled tone on seconde.
B Bass tone on maman.
St Using stick on side of maman.

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Jim's Drum Rhythm Transcriptions

Assn
Ogan
Bula
Maman
Seconde

Assn
Ogan
Bula
Maman
Seconde

http://www.newview.org/salem/rhythm.html

1
X
X
.
B
St
T
1
X
X
.
B
St
Ms

Yenvalou Classique
.
.
2
.
.
3
.
.
.
.
.
X
.
X
.
X
.
X
R
L
.
R
L
.
.
.
.
.
.
B
.
.
St .
.
St
T
T
.
S
.
Mt
Yenvalou Rasombler
.
.
2
.
.
3
.
.
.
.
.
X
.
X
.
X
.
X
R
L
.
R
L
.
.
.
.
.
.
B
.
.
St .
.
St
.
.
Ms .
.
Ms

.
.
X
R
.
.
T

.
.
.
L
.
.
.

4
X
X
.
.
St
.

.
.
.
R
.
.
S

.
.
X
L
.
.
.

.
.
X
R
.
.
.

.
.
.
L
.
.
T

4
X
X
.
.
St
.

.
.
.
R
.
.
T

.
.
X
L
.
.
.

Zepaule
Learned from:
Bonnie Devlin
Description:
Haitian Vodun ceremonial rhythm. Often follows Yenvalou.
Transcribed By:
Jim Salem
Instruments:
High drum. Played with two thin sticks using a whipping
Bula
motion.
Middle "conga" drum. The most important notes are the
Seconde
repeating pair of open tones.
Low "conga" drum. One hand plays bass; the other hand
Maman
plays on the side of the drum using a stick.
Ogan
Bell
Assn
Type of shaker
Notation:
X Beat on Ogan or Assn.
R Right stick stroke on the bula.
L Left stick stroke on the bula.
T Open tone on seconde.
Muffled slap on seconde. "Dry" sound. Right hand plays the sound
Ms
while left hand rests on the drum.
B Bass tone on maman or seconde using left hand.
St Using stick on side of maman using right hand.

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Jim's Drum Rhythm Transcriptions

http://www.newview.org/salem/rhythm.html

Slap in the middle of the maman using left hand.

Assn
Ogan
Bula
Maman (Basic)
Maman (Var.)
Seconde

1
X
X
R
B
St
B
.
B

.
.
.
L
.
.
.
.
Ms

.
.
X
R
.
.
S
.
Ms

2
X
.
L
B
St
S
.
B

.
.
X
R
.
.
.
St
T

.
.
.
R
.
.
.
St
T

3
X
X
L
B
St
B
.
B

.
.
X
R
.
.
.
.
Ms

.
.
.
L
.
.
S
.
Ms

4
X
X
R
B
St
S
.
B

.
.
.
L
.
.
.
St
T

.
.
X
R
.
.
.
St
T

Banda
Learned from:
Bonnie Devlin via Warren Farber
Description:
Haitian Vodun ceremonial rhythm.
Transcribed By:
Jim Salem
Instruments:
High drum. Played with two thin sticks using a whipping
motion.
Seconde Middle "conga" drum.
Low "conga" drum. One hand plays bass; the other hand
Maman
plays on the side of the drum using a stick.
Ogan
Bell
Notation:
X Beat on Ogan or Bula
T Open tone on maman or seconde.
B Bass tone on maman or seconde.
St Using stick on side of maman.
Sh Using stick on head of maman.
Bula

Ogan
Bula
Seconde #1
Seconde #2
Maman

9 de 11

1
X
X
B
T
St
B

.
.
.
.
.
.
.

2
.
X
.
T
.
.

.
X
X
.
.
St
.

3
.
.
B
B
.
T

.
.
X
.
.
.
.

4
X
X
T
.
St
.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.

20/07/2004 19:00

Jim's Drum Rhythm Transcriptions

Maman
(var.)

http://www.newview.org/salem/rhythm.html

.
B

Sh
.

.
.

Sh
.

.
T

.
.

St
.

.
.

Ollin Arageed
Learned from:
Hamza El Din (from his album Eclipse)
Description:
A Nubian wedding song. Beautiful and trance-like. Buy the record
(err... CD).
Transcribed By:
Jim Salem
Sounds:
Clap Hand Clap
Tar Round, frame-type drum
Notation:
Dn Open bass tone. Pronounced "Doon".
Da Rim tone
Mf Muffled tone
X Handclap
Comments:
1) The three hand clap parts are played in succession (not at the same
time!).
2) The tar part is considerably more complex than shown below.
3) The (X) indicates a clap that is only occasionally played.

Clap
Tar

1
X
.
.
Da

2
X
.
(X)
Dn

3
X
X
.
Mf

4
X
.
.
Da

5
X
.
.
Dn

6
X
.
.
Da

7
X
X
(X)
Mf

8
X
.
.
Mf

9
.
X
.
Da

10
X
X
(X)
Dn

11
X
.
.
Mf

12
.
X
.
Da

13
X
.
.
Dn

14
.
X
.
Da

15
.
X
X
Mf

16
X
.
.
Mf

Good Rhythm Reference Books


Here are several books that contain some good rhythm transcriptions. Click
on a title to buy it at Amazon!
African Rhythm and African Sensibility
By John Chernoff / Univ. of Chicago Press / 1981
A "must read" for everyone interested in the social and cultural context
of African drumming.

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Jim's Drum Rhythm Transcriptions

http://www.newview.org/salem/rhythm.html

A Life for the Djembe - Traditional Rhythms of the Malinke


By Mamady Keita and Uschi Billmeier / Arun (www.arun-verlag.de) /
1999
Wonderful transcriptions of West African drumming. CD included. This
is the best Djembe and Junjun resource book I've seen.
Drum Gahu: An Introduction to African Rhythm
By David Locke / White Cliffs Media / 1998
Ghanian Ewe drumming described in detail with transcriptions.
The Music of Santeria Traditional Rhythms of the Bata Drums
By John Amira, Steven Cornelius / White Cliffs Media / 1999
A master's book on Cuban Bata drumming.
Conga Drumming A Beginners Guide to Playing With Time
By Alan Dworsky, et al / Dancing Hands Music / 1994
Good beginners book with clear transcriptions.
A Rhythmic Vocabulary A Musician's Guide to Understanding and
Improvising With Rhythm
By Alan Dworsky, et al / Scb Publishing / 1997
Rhythmic patterns from simple to complex.

Feedback
I'd appreciate any feedback as well as links to other rhythms. My email
address is jsalem@newview.org. I would welcome submissions of new
transcriptions if you can put them into a similar HTML form as the rhythms
included here.
Jim Salem

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