Talking Drum Facts

Talking Drum Facts
The talking drum is an instrument in the percussion family that originates from West Africa. This hourglass shaped drum can be traced back to antiquity and is known by a variety of names including the gangan in Yoruba and doodo in Songhai. They are referred to as talking drums because they are able to be tuned to mimic the sound of human speech in terms of tone and accent such as emotion. The talking drum has two drum heads (one on either end) which are attached by cords that provide the player with the ability to change the pitch when playing by squeezing them which changes the tension.
Interesting Talking Drum Facts:
The talking drum is traditionally made of wood and animal skin, with leather cords for tension. Goatskin was common for the drum skin.
The talking drum is known by several names according to the language in Africa.
In the Akan languages it is known as a Dondo, or Odondo; in the Bambara, Bozo, or Dyula languages it is known as a Tamanin; in Dagbani, Gurunsi, or Moore it is known as Lunna or Donno; in Fulano it is known as Mbaggu or Baggel; in Hausa it is known as Kalangu or Dan Kar'bi' in Songhai is it known as Doodo; in Mandinka, Wolof, or Serer it is known as Tama or Tamma; in Yoruba it is known as Dundun or Gangan.
Talking drums have been used by African cultures to transmit messages over long distances since antiquity but it wasn't until the Europeans arrived in the 1700s that this became known to the outside world.
Messages sent by talking drums have included more words to communicate the message than would be required by a written message but the message could be sent much quicker.
Some cultures in Africa use smaller talking drums while others prefer larger versions.
The talking drum has appeared in many different forms of modern or popular music including the music of Fleetwood Mac, Erykah Badu, Tom Waits, the Grateful Dead, and Nana Vasconcelos.
Talking drums come in various sizes including omele, gan gan, Iya-Ilu (also known as the mother of drums) and dun dun - the largest talking drum.
The hourglass shape of the talking drum alludes to how it is meant to be held, under the arm.
When playing a taking drum the musician often uses a stick to strike the drum head, as well as their fingers, and they use their other hand to change the tension of the cords which enables them to change the pitch.
Some talking drums are as small as 2.75 inches (diameter of drum head), to a 7 inch drum head diameter for the larger talking drums.
Talking drums have been a part of African culture since the beginning and are considered to help define their culture because they are so deeply ingrained in it.
Many drums in Africa are referred to as talking drums however when they are mentioned outside of Africa as talking drums the reference is usually in regards to the hourglass shaped instrument.


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