Do You Know Why This Instrument is Called the ‘Talking Drum’?

The talking drum is a percussion instrument particularly popular with Fuji and Juju music and other music genres associated with Yoruba culture. It is so called because its pitch and sound can be modulated to imitate the tone and prosody of human speech.

It can be used by a skilled drummer to practically imitate any word, phrase or even sound, and used traditionally as a means of communication. It is ann hourglass shaped drum with two drum heads on either side connected by leather tension strings that allow the drummer manipulate its pitch. It is played using a curved stick.

The talking drum is native to West Africa. It is called Mbaggu and Baggel by the fulani, Kalangu, Dan Kar’bi by the Hausa and Dundun or Gangan in Yoruba. It can also be found in some parts of Cameroon and in Asia. The Asian talking drum is, however, not used to “talk” or mimic phrases.

Some international acts in whose songs the talking drum has featured prominently include Erykah Badu’s “My People”, from her “New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)” album, Stevie Wonder and Carlos Santana.