The Djembe is a goblet-shaped single-headed drum. This powerful "healing drum" dates back to the days of the Mali Empire in the 12th century. It is the drum of the Mandingo People of West Africa. Its broad tonal range from a deep resounding bass to thunder crack slap, with a dynamic range of a whisper to a roar. Carved of woods of various types and weights, it is a singled-ended goblet shaped drum which has a wide head usually made of goatskin and strung with rope.
There appears to be no standard size for this instrument. It can be a huge instrument supported by a stand to a drum small enough enabling a small child to carry with no effort. The standard shape is a deep bowl set on top a slightly flared bottom. The drum skin is usually made from goat hide and is usually fastened using three metal rings and ropes and is tuned by a method called the Mali Weave.
The drums were originally hand carved from a single log. Many Djembes are made in this fashion, but there are now other versions of this drum available.
The Djembe is set apart from other ethnic percussion instruments because of its remarkable sounds that can be produced when it is played well. There are three different tones which are produced.
The Djembe (also spelled Jembe) originated in the area of West Africa covered by the ancient Mali empire sometime between 1000AD and 1500AD. There is considerable controversy surrounding the exact time and location of the first appearance of this instrument. It spread throughout a very large part of West Africa and is played by African musicians now in present day Mali, The Gambia, Guinea Passau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Senegal. This drum has been used for religious ceremonies, healings, births, namings, deaths, and many other important events. The traditional use of the Djembe is with dancing. It has now migrated into other parts of Africa and much of the rest of the world. These drums are now produced in impressive numbers in Europe, Asia, and North America.