Monday, January 11, 2010

An Assortment Of Drum Circle Rhythms

This is a list of various drum circle rhythms I like to play. It's my interpretation of them. A few posts below I wrote about various ways to notate drum rhythms. Enjoy!

KC & The Sunshine Band inspired drum circle rhythm: "That's The way, Uh Huh, Uh Huh, I like It, Uh Huh Uh Huh" ♫♫ Doum ka-tek, ka-DoumDoum Tek, KaDoum ka-tek, ka-DoumDoum Tek ♫♫♫ (I guess that disco era helped me out after all!)

Try drumming out "Morse Code" rhythms. Ask someone to suggest 2 letters, or numbers, & put them together to make a new drum circle rhythm. ♫♫ _ _...._ _ ♫♫ A dot is a tone, & a dash, is a bass note. Sometimes they work, & sometimes they don't, that's part of the fun. There’s a Morse Code alphabet chart on my site

"Little Drummer Boy" Christmas drum rhythm, if you can say it, you can play it! ♫♫♫ Let's Play Our Drum...Pa - Rum Pa PumPum...Rum Pa PumPum ♫♫♫

Good start up drum circle rhythm: ♫♫ "Yum Yum Tastes Like Ckic-Ken" ♫♫ (Just like it sounds) - doum doum tek-ka tekka, doum doum tek-ka tekka ♫♫

♫♫ An easy way to get a Clave drum rhythm jamming is to remind people of the beat to songs like "Mockingbird" or "Hand Jive" ♫♫♫

Sly & The Family Stone inspired beat. Boom sha-ka la ka, Boom sha-ka-la-ka

Word association is a great way to get a 6/8 drum circle rhythm going. ♫♫♫ Fol-low-the-yel-low-brick-road-go-do-pa-ta-pa ♫♫♫

The "conga line" rhythm usually turns into a good drum jam. On the Doumbek: ♫♫ doum-ka, doum-ka, tek--tek. ♫♫ Or on the Djembe: gun-pa, gun-pa, go--do ♫♫ or just feel the rhythm vamp to MJ's “Thriller".

Variation of an African drum rhythm Gunazi. ♫♫ Boom sha-ka Boom Boom, shakala, Slap!, Boom sha-ka Boom Boom, shakala, Slap! (or some accented tone at the end) ♫♫

♫♫ Cuckoo! ♫♫ Common commercial jingles make fun drum circle rhythms: Cuckoo for cocoa Puffs - Shaka-sha-lakaBoom, Shaka-sha-lakaBoom

Drum circle rhythm with a Brazilian flair to it: ♫♫♫ Doum--ka-tekka--Doum--ka-tek-ka,- Doum--ka-tekka--Doum--ka-tek-ka ♫♫

♫ Boom-Boom chakachaka ping ping ping! ♫♫ (gun dun patapata slap slap Slap)

Masmuudii 316 - A fun drum circle rhythm that rolls like a freight train ♫♫ D---D---t-k-T-k-D-tktkt-TktkT-t (repeat 4/4 time) ♫♫

Balloon Boy Drum Circle Rhythm (in beta test) ♫ oom-pah---oom-pah---oom-pahpah__oom-pah---oom-pah---oom-pah-barf ♫ (start with dominant hand, RL,RL,RLR__LR,LR,LRL) Bass, tones, & etc. (Alternate to balance both sides of the body.)

"Bambii" Another fun drum circle rhythm - Doum-tekka-katek-tekka-kaDoum-Doum_Doum-tekka-katek-tekka-kaDoum-Doum Doum ♫♫♫ (It's in 4/4 time, the 3 Doums at the end is what makes this one really groove.)

(Or, try it filled: Dk kT kk Tk kT kk D D)

Nice support rhythm to start at the drum circle: ♫♫ Boom sha La-ka Boom Boom-Cha__Boom sha La-ka Boom Boom-Cha ♫♫

♫♫ Cool drum circle rhythm Karsilama 3, it has a triplet at the end: D-kkT-kkD-kkT-T-T (2+2+2+3) (Shorthand notation on this one.) ♫♫♫

Interesting Jewish drum rhythm that's similar to the rhythm Ayyub ( D k-D t ) On the Doumbek: ♫♫ Doum tek-keh Doum tek (repeats and builds) Or on the Djembe: Gun go-do Gun go ♫

Tootie Fruitie Drum Circle Jam - ♫ Wop-baba-lou-bop__a-wop-Bam-Boom, Wop-baba-lou-bop__a-wop-Bam-Boom ♫♫ (I think Little Richard might dig us drumming to this.)

Sweet drum circle rhythm: ♫♫ Boom - che-boom_che-boom-a-choc_o_late__choc_o_late, (dramatic pause) Boom - che-boom_che-boom-a-choc_o_late__choc_o_late ♫♫♫

Drum to rhymes or phrases to start a 6/8 drum circle rhythm rolling: ♫ You-huff-and-you-puff-and-you-blow-the-Gun-Dun-go-do ♫

♫♫ Saiidi Drum Circle Rhythm - Doum tekka tekka doum doum tekka-Tek ♫♫

Beledi - Zaffah variation, Boom chick-a chick, Boom Boom _ chick-a-chick-a boom.

Gawazi - a great drum circle rhythm for dancers ♫♫ D tkD D tkt tktk, D tkD D tkt tktk ♫

Slower grooving drum rhythm. Usually a hit with beginners & pros - ♫ Boom, sha-La-Ka-Boom-Boom (pause) Boom, sha-La-Ka-Boom-Boom ♫

♫♫ A fun variation of the Chifitelli rhythm (played nice & slow) Doum, tek-ka tek-ka doum doum Tek (pause) Doum, tek-ka tek-ka doum doum Doum. ♫

Slow drum circle rhythm in "7". There's a triplet at the end. Boom boom, Boom boom, tek-ka-tek. Boom boom, Boom boom, tek-ka-tek. (1-2, 1-2, 1-2-3)

Thanks to Steve B for these two. Boom che-boom, che-boom-boom-boom. Boom che-boom, che-boom-boom-boom.

And this rhythm in 5/4 : tek a-tek tek, boom boom, tek a-tek tek, boom boom.

Zaffah drum rhythm (As far as I know it's an Egyptian wedding processional in 4/4 time.) D-tkt-t-D-t-t-tt (repeat)

The last time we played that Zaffah rhythm, one of the bellydancers said it sounds like Beledi on steroids. LoL. (Beledi= D D tkT, D tkT)

One of my favorite drum rhythms: Doum tek a tek tek-ka, Doum tek a tek tek-ka, Doum tek a tek tek-ka, Doum Doum Tek. (pause, & repeat)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Drum Circle Finder - Locate Drum Circles Near You

See what drum circles there are near you. Check out my drum circle finder for the USA, and the rest of the world. Established in 1999, It's updated regularly, with 1000's of drum circles listed. If you have a weekly or monthly circle that needs to be updated, or added, please let me know.

Honestly, I do offer my 2 hour drum rhythms DVD & free drum circle jam CD on the page for $15. But you don't need to register, or give your email, or anything like that to use the drum circle finder. The proceeds from sales of my DVD helps to cover the time and cost of maintaining it. Thanks in advance for helping out. Use the link to the right, or visit

Some Various Ways To Notate Or Jot Down Drum Rhythms

There's a variety of different ways I like to use to notate, or can clearly transcribe a drum circle rhythm. It's really a matter of preference, and what you find the fastest, and easiest for you. Here's some various ways I've seen to do so. The accented louder strokes (or slaps) are in caps.

Here's an example of "Fanga" in 4/4 time notated a few different ways:

Gun go-do-go Gun-Dun go-Do (or like this:)
Dun, -, -, go, +, do, go, -, Dun, -, Gun, -, do, go, -, -

(As far as I know, a style taught by Babatunde Olatunji)
Probably the most common, and well known method.
Doum tek-ka-tek Doum-Doum tek-Ka (Middle Eastern style)
(or in shorthand = D t-k-t D-D t-K)
Boom chickaChick Boom-Boom chicKa
B o-o-o B-B o-O
Or, Bass=B, Slap=S, Rim Shot=R, Open Tone=O, Closed Tone=C, Muffled Bass=M
(I don't use this one very much)
Or if it's dark, & I'm in a hurry which is usually the case:
Morse Code _ ... __..
I've seen some others also use this one: R l-r-l R-L r-L
Or, keep it simple: B = bass tone, T = tone note, S = slap tone
(I use small case letters for softer notes)
Jazz scatting - Just write down, whatever it sounds like.
Boom sha-ka-la Boom-Boom sha-Ka
So there's a variety of ways to notate, or jot down a drum circle rhythm even quickly on the fly. Maybe even make up your own method.

Suggesting And Vocalizing Starting Drum Circle Rhythms

When I'm suggesting a rhythm to play. I like to vocalize the first 4 to 8 measures (or bars) of it before I begin playing it, and I start it out very slowly, then I can gradually bring it up to the desired tempo (speed) once they are comfortable with it.

I always mention that this is just a starting point, and that you don't have to play this support rhythm, play whatever feels good to you, or whatever you feel fits. So when I'm suggesting a drum circle rhythm, I like to vocalize the first few measures before I start it out.

The reason is that the logical analytical side of the brain can process it quicker, which then frees up the creative intuitive side so it can improvise. Then people can play what they feel, rather than over thinking it. It is after all, "a drum circle" not rocket science. When you think too much, the joy goes out of it.

Interestingly, I've found that most people can wrap their heads around it quicker if I vocalize drum sounds with a "K" in them. It's also one of the secrets of the trade in stand up comedy, words with K or Q are funnier.

ie: Boom chicka-boom Chick. Or, Doum tekka-doum Tek. Or, just "scat" them out jazz style any way you can.

When I'm working with beginners I like to use this notation style, and explain the sounds like this:

Doum (D) – Right hand, clear, low tone, (from center of drum – like you’re bouncing a basketball, or on a trampoline)

Tek (t) & Ka (k) – Right & Left hand, crisp high tone (sharply striking the edge of the drum head) Iv'e heard some say to pretend like you are hitting the bottom of a hot frying pan. I don't like to say that, because it associates drumming with pain. Not something I want to do.

Tek (T) - usually played with the dominant hand. Reverse hands if you are left-handed, like me. The accented strokes (or slaps) are in caps. Hope this helps you a little.

3 Lyric Version Of Djembe Rhythm Fanga

Most of us who have been to a few drum circles have played and/or sang "Fanga" before. Usually it's just the first verse. Here's the 3 Lyric version of it. Give it a try.

1. Fanga Alafayia, ashé ashé (4 times) (ashe = ahh-shay)
Fanga Alafayia, ashé, ashé
CHORUS: Asé, Asé. Asé, Asé. (x4)

2. Ikabo A Lafiya - Ashe - Ashe (x4)
Ikabo A Lafiya - Ashe-Ashe
CHORUS: Asé, Asé. Asé, Asé. (x4)

3. Ellugua A Lafiya- Ashe-Ashe (x4)
Ellegua A Lafiya- Ashe- Ashe
CHORUS: Ashé, Ashé. Ashé, Ashé. (x4)

Djembe Part 1: Dun, -, -, go, +, do, go, -, Dun, -, Gun, -, do, go, -, -

Drum Circles In Pubs, Clubs, And Cafe's?

In this current economy many night spots, clubs, pubs, and coffee houses are struggling to find working formulas for increasingly slower weeknights. Consider having a drum circle night. It quickly builds up a solid community around it with a loyal following that grows very fast.

Your cost is minimal to have a drum circle night, I've been doing this successfully for years at various venues. What's really needed is an organizer to help keep things running smoothly, and promote the drum circle. Hire a local percussionist, circle facilitator, or maybe even a drumming group. Just Google "drum circle" in your area to find a few. Offer them a base pay or a percentage of sales like 10%, and try it for a few months.

Consider paying them a small base pay. Because honestly, there really is a lot of work involved. Also it isn't the drummers, musicians, or dancers that do the majority of buying your products. They will help support your venue and buy 1 or 2, but it's the onlookers attracted to the scene that will do most of that for you.

My experience is that charging a fee, or cover charge to get it established just doesn't work. Weekly or monthly? I recommend weekly drum circles to really get it established. With monthly circles people tend to forget what week it's being help on. If it's weekly, they know it's always there when they feel like going. Most people will go once or twice a month, some won't want to miss a single night.

A drum circle is kind of like having an open mic night, but better. Since it is interactive, everyone in the venue can participate. So rather than just sitting and watching a band or show, people can be a part of it. I would put out tambourines, maracas, and etc. out on the tables in wicker baskets to entice those who may think they have no rhythm, to get involved. Obviously this also retains the crowd longer because they have more fun.

It takes a few months to get a drum circle community built up and rolling. I go into all of this in much more detail in my book, "A Practical Guide To Hand Drumming And Drum Circles". Please consider picking it up, you would be buying direct from the author. (me) It's self published, 300 pages, and the price is $18. A drum circle jam CD is included with purchase from my website
It would help out a little. Thanks for supporting independent artists.

Quotes From Drumming Master Babatunde Olatunji

I love to drum to this Babatunde phrase:

I am the drum...You are the drum...We are the drum...Boom bada pa ta... (pause & repeat) Play it as you say it. Good stuff, always a group favorite.

"Rhythm is the soul of life. The whole universe revolves in rhythm. Everything and every human action revolves in rhythm." - Babatunde Olatunji

"Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That's why we call it the present." - Babatunde Olatunji

"I am that I am, I am beauty, I am peace, I am joy, I am one with Mother Earth. I am one with everyone within the reach of my voice. In this togetherness, we ask the divine intelligence to eradicate all negatives from our hearts, from our minds and from our actions. And so be it....ashe." - Babatunde Olatunji

"The Creator wants us to drum. He wants us to corrupt the world with drum, dance and chants. After all, we have already corrupted the world with power and greed....which hasn't gotten us anywhere - now's the time to corrupt the world with drum, dance and chants." - Babatunde Olatunji