“Tilt the djembe? Are you kidding me? It’s gonna fall!”
Relax, cowboy. There is a safe way to do it.
But first, why tilt the djembe anyway? The coolest way to answer that is to try it for yourself. Have the djembe horizontally on the ground. Then put one of your hands right smack in the middle. Lift up your hand and hit the center of the drum. See? Not much happened, except you hit your hand on a flat surface and some invaluable sound appeared in the air. Now let’s try the first way to tilt the djembe and then rock that same stroke again.
While sitting on a chair, tilt the djembe just a little bit away from you. When you’ve done that, make sure your’re grabbing the precious instrument with your thighs. There is no need to think that you are on a rodeo, in which case you should hold on to what’s between your legs like there is no tomorrow. The only pressure coming from your thighs should be the minimum what’s required to prevent the djembe from slamming to the ground. When you got that tilt going, try hitting the djembe in the center again.
Pretty cool, huh? The stroke in the middle makes a nice bassy sound when the djembe is tilted, the drum is hit with a flat hand position and the hand is removed immediately after the stroke. Well done! You’ve just graduated from the Bass Stroke Middle School of Djembenomics. There’s still a bit of road ahead, but this has been a critical first step. So, you see – you cannot pass the bass exam with muffling the djembe hole with the floor. The tilt is there for the pressure to be realeased from the bottom of the djembe when playing bass strokes. I know. Mind. Blown.
The second way to tilt the djembe is to tilt it towards you. This can be the tilt of choice when your are sitting much lower or the djembe seems three times bigger since it belongs to a basketball player. But basically, when you’re sitting on a smaller chair you shouldn’t tilt the djembe away from you because the drumhead is then too far from you. Smaller chair, higher or bigger djembe – tilt the drum slightly towards you.
The tilt is usually quite small. You just have to hit the bass stroke and try a different angle of tilt at the same time. Every room has its own acoustics, so keep hitting that bass and trying a new angle. In some rooms, the bass might not want to play ball, so you should tilt the djembe more. Luckily, most rooms are quite easy to work with, in which case you just have to tilt the drum a tiny bit.
Good luck tilting your djembes and finding the best acoustic solution for that bass to sound amazing!