How to Play the African Talking Drum (Tutorial)

To play the lower tone, you will need to make sure you are not using your arm to put pressure around the edge of the drum as it will affect the tuning and will not create a bass tone. You will need to strike the drumhead with the base of your hand or using an African talking drum beater. The impact should be centered and forceful. You can experiment with the amount of force and the part of your hand that makes contact to control the depth and resonance of the lower tone. Practice maintaining a consistent rhythm while striking the drum to achieve a steady and grounding lower tone.

Mid Tone

The mid tone is often considered the primary sound of the African talking drum. To produce it you will need to adjust the tension of your arm on the rope to ensure that you are not holding the ropes too loose or too tight. Again you will need to strike the drum whilst adjusting the tension of your hand on the drums surface to achieve a balanced sound. With practice you will be able to differentiate the sounds produced. Focus on maintaining a consistent and rhythmic pattern while playing the mid tone, as it forms the core of many traditional rhythms.

High tone

To achieve the high tone, use the edge of your hand, fingers or drum beater to strike the drumhead. To adjust the tone you will need to tighten your arm around the rope to adjust the tuning. You can also place your hand or fingers on the drums skin to adjust the resonance upon striking the instrument. Aim for a quick and controlled motion to create a sharp and distinct high tone. Adjust the angle of your hand and experiment with different parts of your fingers to find the sweet spot for producing the desired high pitch.

How to hold the talking drum beater?

African Talking Drum Beater

When it comes to holding the African Talking Drum Beater you will need to hold it loosely in your hand to allow movement. If you hold it too tight this can negatively affect your ability to strike the drum causing too much tension whilst playing. It is difficult to explain with words which is why we have included the video below for reference. Joseph from Nigeria gives the perfect demonstration of how to play the African talking drum. Check out the African Talking Drum Beater here.

How to get better at playing the African talking drum?

As with learning any musical instrument, to get better it will always take practice but the type of practice is also important. Learning these fundamentals outlined in this blog will have you on your way to intentional practice that will have you improving in each session. 

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