What Is Talking Drum? How To Play?

whatistalkingdrum howtoplay

It is the kind of drum, which is the ancestor of percussion instruments, which are divided into varieties in itself, that mimic the rise and fall of rhythm and words in terms of notes and tone and used as communication device. We often see these types of drums in East and West Africa, Southeast Asia and Malaysia regions.

Considered one of the oldest instruments in West Africa, the talking drum has a long history dating back to the Ghana Empire. In fact, even today, the oral traditions of the villages and families are also used by West African griot, which is based on storytellers who have preserved their history. Griots was a tool that was valued by West African societies. Because at that time, very few people could access this writing language. During the speech, drum griots were used as a tool to assist in storytelling, guiding and communicating.


Talking drum was an important place in West African culture and was very useful in function, as it was also used to convey important messages, invite ceremonial dance, and to convey messages that also gave important life lessons. It had reached such an important position that it also had a language specific to each region.


Talking drums used in traditional tribal ceremonies, like many old African drums, are widely used today, such as Fuji types, and applied to contemporary music forms. In general, Nigeria is hip hop music, as well as traditional Nigerian music in Fuji genre, more modernly blended with a dance element.

How to play Talking Drum?

Many rhythms are played together in African drumming. When playing the talking drum, you should place the drum between the body and the arm. Then, while your other hand strikes the drum knocker, it also clenks occasionally.


Rhythm is followed with talented dancers. Produced using animals and trees, this tool is thought to represent the spirit of the tree, the spirit of the goat and the spirit of the drummer, and imitate speech with them. He approaches the drum with compassion, and according to his speech progression, tightening the rope and hitting the drum with a mallet is carried out.

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Unknown about Talking Drum

The talking drum, which is formed by the combination of leather cord, wood and animal skin to create tension, is traditionally produced like this, and it is also known that goatskin and drum skin are created. Speaking drum is divided into several names according to languages ​​in Africa such as Dondo, Odondo, Tamanin, Mbaggu, Tama, Dundun and Gangan.


  • It has always been used in African cultures to convey messages since ancient times, but it was not known to Europeans until 1700.
  • Messages transmitted by talking drums contain much more words than normal transmission. But they are delivered much faster.
  • Drum size varies from culture to culture.
  • The talking drum is sometimes produced in the form of an hourglass and it is understood that these varieties should be used under the seat.
  • During the talking drum playing, the musician generally needs a stick to hit the head and fingers of the drum, and with the other hand he adjusts the tension of the cables to provide pitch changes.
  • It is so integrated with Africa that these drums are part of African culture and are thought to give a lot of information about its past.
  • Many drums in Africa are referred to as talking drums, but when talking about talking drums outside of Africa, they appear as hourglass.

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    • Umutcan

      Very beneficial post. Thank you :)

    • Yeşim

      I read this post with pleasure, great!

    • Sinan H.

      This post is very beneficial. Thank you

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