New Instrument suggestion: Djembe

• Apr 5, 2015 - 01:46

I think that the Djembe should be added to the instruments list. In my experience, it is a common instrument, both in orchestral scoring and ethnic music. I would suggest that it have a hand, fist, and mallets notation, but it doesn't have to be that specific. Thanks.


In reply to by [DELETED] 5

The Djembe is officially notated with a form called "box notation" (

As a matter of personal opinion, I think it would work as a one line, with a normal note head on the line representing the tone and below it representing the bass and an 'X' notehead above the line for the slap.

The link should explain box notation, though if you take it's one example it would use solid heads for all three types of hits. I've attached a picture of my idea of what it should look like.

Oh, and in terms of playing it, when played ethnically, there are two hits: the slap at the edge, which produces a higher, hollow sound, and a fist hit in the middle, which is a bass (drum) sound. Mallets make a more rounded sound and are used more in modern orchestra, etc. stuff. They're somewhere in between the other two, and are a non-traditional way of playing, but I've seen the drum used that way in soundtrack recording videos, especially in large groups.

Attachment Size
Djembe example.JPG 13.38 KB

There are a multitude of ethnic drums around, and to add them all to the instrument list would make it very unwieldy, but as you say, the Djembe has become part of mainstream percussion during the last 10 years, so worthy of an entry.

Unless I hear screaming objections during the next 24 hours I will add this to the issue tracker as a feature request.

As Lasconic says, detailed information about notation etc will be required in order to do this, and also what is meant by hand, fist and mallets - sadly the specifics of djembe playing are not one of my acquired musical skills :)

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