Drumming in correct technique

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Feel the rhythm . . . Koffie Fugah plays his Djembe drum outside the Dunedin Railway Station. PHOTO: JOSHUA RIDDIFORD

There is more to playing the West African djembe drum than just bashing it with your hands.

Djembe master drummer Koffie Fugah has been demonstrating how to play the drum to participants at workshops around New Zealand.

And the Mosgiel man is looking forward to passing on his skills to Dunedin people at a two-day workshop in Port Chalmers on September 16-17.

Newcomers often took an unsophisticated approach to playing the instrument, Fugah said.

“Most of them just bang anywhere on the drum.”

In fact, there were three main techniques for striking the drum’s goatskin, he said.

A “bass” was a strike in the middle of the drum which made a loud sound, and a “tone” and a “slap” on the outer side of the instrument were used to make softer noises.

It was important for a drummer to keep their knuckles in line with the drum, Fugah said as he tapped his hand on the instrument in a demonstration for The Star.

The word djembe translates to “gather everyone in peace” and the drum was a focal point of life in Ghana for Fugah as a young man.

“As a child you grow up with this.”

He could not remember when he first played the djembe drum in his home town village of Abor in the Volta region but aged about 9 he started to learn the intricacies of the instrument.

Fugah arrived in New Zealand four years ago.

He has taught drumming and dance in schools and to expatriates in Ghana and other countries for over 15 years.

The two-day workshop will be held in the Pioneer Hall, Port Chalmers, between 10.30am and 2.30pm on Saturday, September 16, and Sunday, September 17. For more information, phone Fugah on 021-0268-0964.