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date: 17 January 2021

Tama [tamanin, dumanu, dumanan, dunkan]locked

  • K.A. Gourlay,
  • Lucy Durán
  •  and Rainer Polak


[tamanin, dumanu, dumanan, dunkan]

Variable-tension hourglass drum of the Wolof and Mande-speaking peoples (Khasonka, Soninke, Maninka, Bamana, Dyula) and their neighbours in Senegal, the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast. The tama is struck with one curved drumstick with a flattened end, and by one hand. The two heads are lapped onto rings at the ends of the wooden body and joined by numerous cords so that, when the drum is placed under the player’s arm, pressure on the cords can vary the pitch. Most modern instruments are relatively small (25 to 30 cm tall, 10 to 15 cm in diameter); in Mande languages, these are known as tamanin (‘small tama’). Larger drums might have been in wider use historically. The tama resembles other, larger hourglass drums of West Africa, such as the Dagomba lunga of northern Ghana and the Yoruba gángan of south-western Nigeria. However, unlike these, it is not known for speech surrogacy and is not a ‘talking drum’, a term sometimes misleadingly applied to West African hourglass drums in general....

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