Djembe: characteristics, price, and history of the ethnic musical instrument


Djembe is a percussion instrument that has been passed down from generation to generation at tribal festivals and ceremonies on the Atlantic coast of West Africa. It is said to have a history of 3000 years. Depending on how you hit it, you can hit the three tones of bass, middle, and treble. It has a strong religious background and was the most important instrument for taking the rhythm of songs and dances during ceremonies such as harvesting. It is also said to have been used as a means of communication between remote villages. This instrument is often listened to in folk music.


This instrument was born in West Africa (Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso).

About the price

Prices range from 10,000 yen to more than 500,000 yen.

History of djembe

Djembe is a goblet-type single-sided drum that is native to Africa and is distributed throughout Guinea, Mali, and Senegal. It is said to have been born in the 13th century. The history of djembe was born in the Mali Empire. Within the Mali Empire, djembe originated in northeastern Guinea and was invented by the Mandinkas and spread throughout West Africa. It has a strong religious background and was the most important instrument for singing and dancing rhythms during ceremonies such as harvesting. It was also used as a means of communication between remote villages. Djembe has evolved with the times, has become less religious, and has a personality as an “instrument”. As djembe spread all over the world, it was made not only in Africa but also in other countries. It is also made in Indonesia, but mahogany and teak lumber are often used for the body, and bovine skin is used for the skin part. It now extends to modern countries in Senegal, southern Mauritania, Mali, northern Burkina Faso, western Niger, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire and northern Ghana.

Features of djembe

The djembe consists of one central djembe player, one or two sub djembe players, and one or three djembe players. Bass drums are usually played on sticks and play a central role in rhythm. There are three types of bass drums of different sizes and pitches: Don Umba, Sanban and Kenkeni. Sheep skin is mainly used for the striking surface, and it is basically struck with bare hands. We have diversified from traditional ones, which are made by cutting out a single tree to make a torso and fixing them with a rope of goat skin, to synthetic ones, which are made in pursuit of ease of tuning and strength. I am.

Djembe song

Since djembe is a traditional African instrument, it is rarely used in popular songs. Therefore, it is mainly used for African folk music. It also goes well with BGM music and is often used in games, movies, and television.


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