Posts Tagged With: Tamani

Playing The Small Talking Drum

One day my bro Chris, aka Ccideron asked Cheick Fadel aka Fernandel, le bonne homme du Sahel: “What is that little drum called that you play under your armpit and that makes sounds like a human voice ? “

The question had just been asked and immediately a jamming/drumming/smoking/tea-drinking session was organized with one of the best musicians in Nara. Fernandel knew them all of course.

Making Music at Cheick Fadel’s home

It is called a  Tamani, said Fernandel, the small talking drum. And Ccideron got hooked on it.

Right away !

Ccideron at work


The talking drum (aka dondo, adondo, atumpan, or gan gan) is a drum where the pitch can be varied, like a timpani. Like many drums, the talking drums have been used for communicating in Africa.

When the drum is squeezed under the arm and played, one can produce the intonations of human speech. The drum originated in West Africa. These drums add a beautiful dynamic to music. It is a symbol of joy and unity for the Malian people.

The expert

But as always, TALK IS INDEED CHEAP. When it comes to playing the small talking drum it takes a little bit more than squeezing your armpit to produce the desired sound.

Africa has a rich musical tradition with a wide variety of instruments, many of them ancient and long associated with oral tradition, storytelling and improvisation. For centuries, Africa has produced a wide variety of different drums, idiophones, string instruments and more. Many African musicians can play more than one instrument with equal skill. Yeap!

And so did he !

Long and intense sessions

These sessions ( we had many of them ) were intense and long and the participants got exhausted from all the music talk.

Luckily a tea maker was always part of the team and frequent breaks, dedicated to sipping the dark and bitter sweet  Arab tea, helped the band to recover again and again. And of course the beds, chairs and divans under Fernandel’s ” Hangar” came in handy as well. Sometimes you just have to get into a comfortable position and the world looks bright again.

Dark, bitter and sweet is real nice!

Fact is everything can be turned into art if you put your heart into it, if it is making music or making tea – it’s just the same. It is art. Looking at the two, you would not believe that there was no alcohol involved!

Ccideron and Fernandel

Music until the moon came up – and then through the night!

Until the moon comes up

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Categories: Africa, Nara, People, Sahel, Tradition, West Africa | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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