Rhythm Notation

African rhythms we play

[I'm currently migrating my notation from my old Secret Bass rhythm pages, so please bear with us in the transition and look there or here for any rhythms not linked on this page yet...]

We mostly play traditional West African rhythms I've learned from many African teachers including some of Mamady Keita's new rhythms, such as Kedju. See also lots more West African rhythms that I've notated from Justine Hart's classes, such as Djole, Yankadi+Makru, Moribayassa and Kuku.

Here's a key which explains the symbols used in these notations. Note that rhythms should all be viewed with a fixed-width (monospaced) font, not a proportionally-spaced one, so that the different parts all line up horizontally underneath each other; any decent web browser should automatically display them correctly. The page layouts have been optimised for the default Print settings in Firefox (i.e., A4 paper in Portrait aspect, with "Shrink To Fit" Scale). If on your setup you decide that printing needs some adjustments, you can always use a word processor to fit them to the desired page size.

Some of my own djembe rhythms

These are just a few of my own compositions, mostly in the African polyrhythmic polymetric style I love so much.

There are of course now countless rhythms on Youtube. Possibly the best online collection of djembe rhythm notation is Paul Nas' WAP Pages. Another excellent resource is Jim's Notes. See also some more rhythms and background info at other drumming websites.