How to Play Slaps on Djembe

Learn how to play slaps on djembe from the musicians at Wula Drum in this Howcast video.

Speaker 1: How do we play the slap on the djembe? The slap is the highest pitched sound, it’s not the loudest, they should all be equal in volume, but the slap has the higher pitch. The way I make that slap is I open my fingers just a little bit. I make sure my thumb is out of the way, and I make sure I lift off the drum by moving from the elbow all like one mechanism, like this. Everyone’s slap is a little different, everyone’s hand is different, everyone’s drum is different. I always mark from the pad of my hand all the way to the tips of my fingers, all the length of my finger.

Speaker 2: Mine is the same, but a little different because I got a small hand, so my technique is different. But sometime, you got a big hand, you got a small hand, the way you make the sound does come from you. Look how I make my sound.

Speaker 1: Both of us are relaxed, and we always lift off the drum.

Speaker 2: You see, I’m relaxing, but I can make a different technique too.

Speaker 1: That’s fast. You could play slow. You could play loud, you can play soft, but try to get your hands even, so that you’re doing the same thing, fingers open just a little bit, not anything tense. If you have tension, or if you don’t come off the drum, it stops the sound.

Speaker 2: So I’m going to be playing stress slap like an eight count.

Speaker 1: And that’s how you play the slap sound on the djembe.