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The talking drum is a West African drum whose pitch can be regulated to the extent that it is said the drum "talks". The player puts the drum under one shoulder and beats the instrument with a stick. A talking drum player raises or lowers the pitch by squeezing or releasing the drum's strings with the upper arm. This can produce highly informative sounds to convey complicated messages. The ability to change the drum's pitch is analogous to the language tonality of some African languages. In the 20th century the talking drum has become a part of popular music in West Africa. It is used in playing Mbalax music of Senegal and in Fuji and Jùjú music of Nigeria (where it known as a dundun, not to be confused with the dundun bass drum used in Djembe ensemble of the Mandé peoples.) Among the Wolof of Senegal, the talking drum (known as a tama) is an hour-glass shaped drum with two heads (goat, lizard (iguana), or fish skin) tuned by straps that connect the heads with each other. Talking drums, which are shaped like an houglasses, are possibly one the oldest instruments used by West African griots and their history can be traced back to ancient Ghana Empire. The Hausa people (and by influence, the Yoruba people of southern Nigeria and Benin and the Dagomba of northern Ghana) have developed a highly sophisticated genre of griot music centering on the talking drum.

Dondo (Talking Drum)

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