Dethie “Pape” Diouf

Senegalese drumming

The tama is a “talking” drum of Senegal.  It is used as a form of communication for marriage ceremonies and birth announcements; it is the key element that induces a person into a trance or expels a spirit from the body during a ndeup healing ceremony.  It is used to help renew mental and spiritual health of all ceremonial participants.  Playing the tama takes years of experience, and mastery comes from learning to construct the instrument by hand.  The lead drum, or Nder, must be tuned precisely to produce idiophones that mimic the Senegalese Wolof language.  There are two accompanying drums, the Nder Balla, which gives the bass, and the Haab, which holds the rhythm.

Dethie “Pape” Diouf, who comes from a long line of griots, traditional healers, and drummers, learned to drum during his childhood from his uncle, Baye Guna Mboup, and his formal instructor, Baye Guye Seck.  His father founded the drum and dance ensemble Balle Fette Bu Senegal, of which Pape is now the lead drummer and director.

Pape was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program in 2011, with his son and apprentice Thiane Diouf.  The apprenticeship focused on increasing Thiane‚Äôs proficiency on the tama, including drum construction and ritual care of the instrument.

The following video features Pape and Thiane playing the tama.  The video begins with Thiane playing the tama, Pape can be seen playing at the 4:10 mark.  At the 8:35 mark, Thiane plays and sings a traditional song from Lumbel, Nigeria.


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