The dunun (DOO-noon) family of West African bass drums (also dun dun, djun djun, dundun) creates the rhythmic and melodic foundation for many Malinke rhythms. The dunun is a membranophone percussion instrument consisting of a hollow tubular wood body, cow skin head on both ends, rope tensioning system, is struck with a stick, and often is accompanied by a bell (kenken). Each of the three dunun has a specific rhythm and role to play in the ensemble, and has a specific name.
The largest of the three is dundumba (DOON-doom-bah, also doudounba, dununba), which has the deepest voice and typically plays phrases that accentuate the rhythm's foundation and interact melodically with the sangban. The sangban (SONG-bahn, also sangba, sanba) is the middle-size drum, is tuned to mid-frequency that matches the tone of the djembe, and often plays a lead role in creating the core identity of the rhythm, with specific calls and variations that communicate to the dancers. The smallest of the family is kenkeni (KEN-ken-ee, also sangbani), which has the highest voice best suited to keep the pulse, or downbeat, of the rhythm. Each distinct part played by dundumba, sangan, or kenkeni typically has a bell pattern related to the drum pattern.
All of our dunun are handcrafted in West Africa, using traditional methods and materials available locally, and are imported direct. The Classic Dunun Set comes from Ghana, and is part of the intermediate level, student class of drums, suited for beginner and intermediate level drumming, school settings, drum circles, and rehearals. The Ivory Coast Dunun Set is part of the Paragon class of drum, better suited for experienced West African drummers, performance settings, and traditional African dance classes. Both sets are inspected, tuned as a family and played at our drum shop before shipping to you to ensure accurate tuning and sound. Click any of the photos below to learn more and to place your order!