Hand Made Gifts, Unique Hand Crafted Home Goods, FAIR TRADE

Hand Made African Drum Keychain

African Drum Keychain
African Drum Keychain
Item# KC25
$4.00

Product Description

African Drum Keychain
Key Chain Size:
Height: 3 inches
Width: 1 ½ inches
Length: 1 ½ inch
Hand Crafted in South Africa

This unique keychain has been hand made to resemble an African Djembe drum, the base is hand carved from wood, and then the top is covered with goat skin and tied like exactly the same as a full size drum top would be tied.



About the Djembe

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 Côte d'Ivoire) include dimba (bush mango), lenge, bois rouge, and acajou.

In the mid 1990s furniture makers in Ghana took note of the commercial success being experienced by traditional djembe drum carvers. The craftspeople in Ghana, where the kpanlogo and oblenten drums are the most well known traditional drums, began to carve and sell djembes from Tweneboa, a soft wood. Using soft wood required a much thicker shell that fails to produce the resonant and explosive sound of a hardwood djembe. The commercial savvy of the furniture importers led to a very large number of these soft wood djembes coming into the United States. These "tourist quality" softwood drums appeared in discount department stores like Marshalls and Target, priced at $100 and below. Doing business in the vast U.S. market was also facilitated because the language of business and education in Ghana is English.

Properly made drums are not smooth on the interior but have a spiral channel inside that enhances the tonal qualities. Splinters and rough carving inside are signs of a hastily made drum. The drumheads are typically made from goatskin and more rarely can be antelope, zebra, deer, or calfskin. West African goat skins are known to djembe musicians as having a different sound than goats domesticated in the USA. Goats raised in West Africa experience a rougher existence, different climate, and different diet, which apparently toughen and harden the skins in a way that impacts their sound quality. Goat skins from animals bred and raised in the USA have been known to be softer and tear more easily under the extreme tension required for a playable drum.

Djembe playing by non-African people has a much longer history in Europe than it does in the USA and other parts of the world, as the French-speaking members of Les Ballets Africains first settled in France, Belgium, Germany, and other parts of Europe when they left the touring company to seek personal opportunities. Because of this history, and the education that Europeans received from traditional Manding teachers like Mamady Keita and Famoudou Konate, Europe has mostly avoided the large number of softwood djembes arriving in the American marketplace. While these drums may look nice, their sound leaves much to be desired for serious djembe players.

A first class of djembe of growing popularity in the north because of drum circles and other foot-drum events of a more social nature are the modern synthetic drums. These drums have shells formed of plastic or resin-composite materials, metal mechanical tuning rather than traditional ropes, and often plastic rather than goatskin heads. They are often manufactured and sold by traditional drum equipment companies such as Pearl, Meinl, Toca, and Remo. The Remo drums, for example, have a loud, harsh tone and a nearly indestructible nature which makes them a popular choice for drumming events outdoors such as at the beach. However, the plastic tone and conga-like tuning mechanisms keep them from being considered for serious traditional djembe drumming