African Drum

African Drum Hollowed from a single log, this African drum lets the voice of the forest speak once again. This is a simple object but requires that you remove a lot of wood from an awkward angle, so persevere! If you can find a log that is partially hollow, so much the better.

Start with a solid log of white cedar, tulip poplar, cottonwood, or willow (all easy to work).

Lay out the diameter of the top and bottom with a compass.

Bore a hole through from both ends to meet in the middle.

With chisels and gouges, hollow the interior to make a chamber and narrower neck and opening at the bottom.

Chop & shave the exterior down to a 3/4 inch thickness.

Bore five 3/4 inch holes through at a 45 degree angle for the five tension pegs.

Cut the top from split cowhide drumskin about 2 inches larger all around than the top and then soak it in cold water overnight.

Make a hoop of rope that will fit around the top and fit it down over the softened head.

Wrap the free ends of the head back up and stitch all around with heavy thread.

Punch through the doubled head over the hoop at 20 equally spaced points.

Loop a cord from four points down around the corresponding pegs.

After the skin dries, tapping in the pegs will tighten and tune the drum.


 Permission of The University of North Carolina Press 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Support for pbs.org

Learn more about PBS sponsorship