Denabeng dunun taught by Nansady Keita

Denabeng dunun is the rhythm I am currently teaching my Durham Class (see course information page for details.

This rhythm was first taught to me by Nansady Keita in Autumn 2009 when I was playing with the group Mutandi in Newcastle. Since then Ive leant different solo parts at Glenisla – African Drum Village and at a workshop I organised in June 2013 in Ovingham, Northumberland.

You can hear a version of Denabeng dunun on Nansady’s album Hamana Kalu available on his website

Rhythms Nansady teaches are from the Malinke people (Nansady’s ethnic group) and from the Hamana region (the area of Guinea where he grew up).

Nansady has told me that denabeng dunun is usually played at the beginning of a wedding celebration, with the festivities lasting several days.

Denabeng dunun is one of the Mendiani family of rhythms. A search on youtube for Mendiani will get a lot of hits as it is very popular. Denabeng dunun is the only rhythm I have learned from the Mendiani family which is in 4/4 time – the rest being very energetic 6/8 rhythms. Mendiani was traditionally a dance for young girls who would learn from an elder and one girl would be chosen each year and would often tour with musicians performing the dance around local villages.

The bride’s friends and female siblings go round the village and take clothes from each house and wash them in the river so they are clean for the wedding. At the end of the wedding time, the bride will normally leave the village to go and live with her husband who may live far away.

I have seen the dance for Denebeng Dunun in Conakry, Guinea. Musicians would each take a female dancer on their shoulders and she would kneel or stand and dance! The dance includes a lot of spins which I hear reflected in the music – both the dunun patterns and rolls in the solos. There are several solos I have learned that have a triplet feel and the whole rhythm is played with a slight swing.

I am very happy to share what Nansady has told me about the rhythms he has taught and encourage all drummers who want to learn more about the tradition to study with Nansady. The music he teaches is very rarely available on the internet or published.

Nansady teaches both the bass drums and djembe over a day or weekend. He teaches all the bass drum parts – dunumba, sangban and keni with variations and echauffment parts and djembe solos to suit the level of the workshop participants. He plays through all parts for people to record at the end of the workshop too. His style is very clear and he is very patient and encouraging.

Im sure many of his students would be interested in a teaching cd of the some of the many dozens of rhythms he has taught in the UK since arriving here in 2005. If you would be interested, get in touch and we may be able to make one!!




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