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Les Percussions de Guinee Les Genies du Djembe - African Drumming - Preview

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Published on Aug 7, 2009

Djembe playing at its best
These are some of the best players in Africa, all on the same stage.

Les Percussions de Guinee was founded in 1987 by the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Tourism of the Republic of Guinea. It is a government sponsored national ballet of the finest percussionists, musicians, and dancers from Guinea, West Africa.

They present a performance inspired by traditional music set in a modern scenic presentation. The group is naturally oriented toward the music of the Guinean highland and the coastal region known for the djembe drum, but their influences are also drawn from the Guinea midland and the forest regions as well. In the tradition of the griots, the history of many of the ethnic groups is told through the medium of drum and dance performance. African-styled performing arts has transmitted traditional values, actual histories, and the spiritual energy of the African people for centuries.
The fifteen-member ensemble includes seven master drummers, chosen among the best soloists of Guinea's national companies, as well as members playing flute, balafon, kora, and traditional dancers.

About the Djembe

A djembe (pronounced /ˈdʒɛmbeɪ/ JEM-bay) also known as djimbe, jenbe, jymbe, jembe,yembe, or jimbay, or sanbanyi in Susu; is a skin covered hand drum, shaped like a large goblet, and meant to be played with bare hands. According to the Bamana people in Mali, the name of the djembe comes directly from the saying "Anke dje, anke be" which literally translates to "everyone gather together", and defines the drum's purpose. "Dje" is the verb for "gather" in Bamanakan, and "be" translates as "everyone" in Bamanakan.
It is a member of the membranophone family of musical instruments: a frame or shell (in the djembe's case it is a shell) covered by a membrane or drumhead made of one of many products, usually rawhide. Djembes are commonly about 12" (30 cm) in diameter and 24" (60 cm) in height, varying a few inches. They can also be found at many smaller sizes, from 5" (13 cm) up to 18" (46 cm) in diameter. As a result of the goblet shape, the density of the wood, the internal carvings, and the skin, there is a wide range of tones that can be produced by the djembe. The rounded shape with the extended tube of the djembe body forms a device known in physics as a Helmholtz resonator, giving it the deep bass note. The primary notes are generally referred to as "bass", "tone" and "slap", though a variety of other tones can be produced by advanced players. The slap has a high, sharp sound and the tone is more "round" and full. The bass is the lowest.
Some consider the ashiko to be male and the djembe female.
There is general agreement that the origin of the djembe is associated with a class of Mandinka/Susu blacksmiths known as Numu. The wide dispersion of the djembe drums throughout West Africa may be due to Numu migrations dating from the first millennium A.D.

Despite the associations of the djembe with the Numu, there do not appear to be hereditary restrictions upon who can play the djembe as occurs with some other African instruments.

Traditionally crafted djembe drums are carved in one single piece from hollowed out hardwood trees. Specific types of wood depend upon the forests accessible to the drum makers. Some West African hardwoods used for musician quality instruments (carved in Guinea, Senegal, Mali, and Cote' Divore) include dimba (bush mango), lenge, bois rouge, acajou, iroko, hare or khadi, and dugura.

National Ensemble of the Republic of Guinea.
Recorded on location at the Peoples Palace Conakry Guinea, Agust, 2000

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