Do You Dundun?

By Kalani • May 26th, 2013

Set of three dundunDundun drums provide the heartbeat of some West African drumming, but even though many people have played the "duns," many people are not familiar with their origins, uses, or even how to spell and pronounce 'dundun.'

What are dundun? (also dunun)

Dundun are bass drums that originate in the music ensembles of the Malinke and Susu from West Africa. Although there are different manifestations of these drums, their main purpose is to provide the rhythmic and sonic foundation for drumming ensembles. Often played in sets (usually three), they come in graduated sizes. The most common names for a set of three are: Kenkeni (small), Sangban (medium), and Dundunba (large).

The Dundun are played with large wooden sticks (not mallets), which are used to strike the center of the heads. The heads are Cow Skin with the fur left on (to reduce overtones, ring, and add warmth). The shells are made of hardwood and the heads are attached with steel bands and rope. In some styles of play, it's common to attach small bells, called 'ken ken,' to the dundun. Bells are played with small metal strikers.

Other instruments that are commonly played along with the dundun include:

- Djembe
- Bala (Xylophone)
- Bolon (Three- or four-stringed bass harp)
- Flutes
- Voice

Watch the below video to learn more about the dundun.

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Learn EVEN MORE in this video!


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You can learn more by watching more videos by Kalani and other teachers.

Music Therapists can learn more about world drumming via Music Therapy Drumming courses.

Music Teachers will want to look into Kalani's Books and DVDs.

Everyone can learn more at DCM courses. See the DCM Curriculum Page to find out more about DCM Courses.



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