Ballet Duns


Learn ‘ballet dun’ rhythms online with Guinean master drummer Mohamed Bangoura and Australian djembe player Tara Tucker.
Demonstrations, breakdowns and notation for 18 different rhythms.


Ballet Duns
Balakulandjan – Malinke initiation rhythm, Kurussa region, Guinea
Djole – Temine mask rhythm, Guinea & Sierra Leone
Senefoli – Malinke harvest rhythm, North East Guinea
Moribayassa – Malinke women’s dance, North East Guinea
Denadon – Malinke rhythm played before the Mendiani festival, North East Guinea
Dallah – Malinke fishing rhythm, North East Guinea
Kanin – Original rhythm by Mamady Keita
Toro – Malinke initiation rhythm, North East Guinea
Soli Rapide – Malinke initiation rhythm, Guinea

Kuku – Popular Manian rhythm, Forest Guinea & Ivory Coast
Fankani – Popular Malinke rhythm, Wassolon region, Guinea
Soliwoulen – Malinke rhythm for master fetish-maker, North East Guinea
Soli Lent – Malinke initiation rhythm, Guinea
Fe 1 – Popular Malinke rhythm, North East Guinea
Kono – Original rhythm by Mamady Keita
Djagbe – Popular Malinke rhythm, North East Guinea
Soko – Malinke initiation rhythm, Faranah region, Guinea
Kassa – Malinke harvest rhythm, North East Guinea

Q: What are duns and what do you mean by ballet duns?

A: Dununs or ‘duns’ are the 3 bass drums which provide the melodic rhythm on top of which West African djembe drums are played. The duns are called, in order from low to high pitch, the dununba, the sangban and the kenkeni. A typical djembe ensemble consists of a set of duns and at least 2 djembes. Traditionally, duns are played horizontally with one player on each drum. Each dunun player strikes one side of the drum with a stick and plays a bell with the other hand. The interplay of the 3 dunun parts results in a melody that is the signature groove of that particular rhythm.

‘Ballet style’ is an adaptation whereby the duns are played vertically, with 1 person effectively playing the role of the 3 drummers. This individual plays a composite version of the 3 dunun parts that reflects the signature ‘song’ of the combined 3 dunun voices. A good ballet dun pattern expresses the essence of a particular rhythm. While the ballet dun set up is not traditional, it’s a popular, convenient and accepted way of playing.

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