Alternate Name(s): dunun, djundjun, junjun
Geographic Region: Africa
Country of origin: Mali
Subregion: western Africa
Definition: Double-headed cylindrical bass drum
SvH No.: 211.212.1
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The dundun (larger of the two bass drums found in the Malian jembe ensemble) is made from either a hollowed out wooden cylinder or cylindrical metal barrel, measuring twenty to twenty six inches in diameter and thirty to thirty six inches long. The goat or cow skin drumheads are attached to both ends of the barrel through a system of leather collars or metal hoops and interwoven synthetic rope.
The earliest documentation of what might be a Mande bass drum dates to an eleventh century account of the Arabic traveler and scholar, al-Bakri (the term used was duba).
The tension on the playing heads of the dundun is maintained through the interweaving of the synthetic ropes connecting the two heads, in a manner identical to that used for the jembe. Prior to the use of metal rings and synthetic rope, the tension on the skin was much lower, and the goat or cow skin playing heads were heated over a fire to restore tension during performances.
The dundun is played standing, the drum held to the body by a cloth strap slung low over one shoulder. It is played with a single curved wooden beater in the shape of the letter "J," approximately ten inches long and 3/4 inch in diameter. Only one head of the drum is played at any one time. To make an open stroke the stick is allowed to rebound off the drumhead immediately following impact. To make a muffled, closed, or pressed stroke, the stick is pressed into the drumhead; sometimes the stick is turned parallel to the drumhead to achieve this. In Bamako, the dundun player usually accompanies himself with a conical iron bell suspended by a string attached to the middle finger on the left hand and struck by an iron thumb ring.
Last Modified: 05-May-2005TOP