A video based learning resource for drummers to study Varun Venkit’s interpretation of 11 traditional West African rhythms on the drum kit

Hi, I’m Varun Venkit and I welcome you to ‘Mandingue Rhythms for Drumset!’ In this series of eleven videos I am very happy to share with you my interpretation of West African rhythms on the kit. Through this project you will learn about the djembe, dununs and also the cultural (ethnic) information associated with each of these rhythms. The videos consist of a traditional ensemble demonstration, a kit demo and explanation along with drum notations. I invite drummers to dive deep into the world of Mandingue percussion, experience the unique feel from grooves from West Africa, add to and explore a new vocabulary on the kit.

I’ve been playing the drum set for as long as I can remember. Then, in 2010 my life changed when I met Mamady Keita, my djembe Guru, may his soul rest in peace. I realized that I was following him all over the world like Mary’s lamb and learning from him in a new country each year, absorbing as much music and information as I could from him. I was playing the djembe a lot more than I was playing the drum kit. Eventually when I got back on the kit, both my musical sensibilities and what my hands could do on the kit, had changed. This video series is a product of this journey and exploration. My aim with this project is to inspire you, drummers with musical ideas to explore and have amazing musical epiphanies.

For those of you who are new to the world of West African percussion, here’s a little intro… A traditional West African djembe ensemble comprises djembes and dununs. Dununs are the collective word for three cylindrical bass drums. The Dununba is the biggest one. ‘Ba’ means big in Malinke. The Sangban is the heart of any ensemble and the medium sized drum and the Kenkeni (the smallest one). Mamady Keita calls the Kenkeni the motor or the driving force of most rhythms. And you’ll know why when you experience the kind of parts that are played on the Kenkeni. The Sangban is the heart of every ensemble. As you learn more and more West African rhythms it’s the Sangban that differentiates one rhythm from the other. The Dununba, Mamady calls ‘the Sauce’ because sauce makes things tasty and that’s just what the Dununba does. This video series consists of my interpretation of the Dunun melodies on the kit. The djembe demonstrations in the ensemble videos will give you an idea of what the rhythms traditionally sound like.

Now that you have a detailed background about this project, check out my interpretation of ‘Djagbe’ (a Malinke rhythm from North East Guinea) on the kit as a FREE trial! I hope you enjoy this rhythm and have a wonderful experience learning a new approach of grooves on the drum set.

A traditional Malinke mask dance / rhythm from the Wassolon region

Soli Rapide
A very significant Malinke initiation (coming-of-age) rhythm from all over Guinea (West-Africa)

A popular Malinke rhythm from North East Guinea that’s played at the end of Ramadan

A traditional Malinke rhythm about a caste of jesters or clowns from North-East Guinea or the border region of Mali

A very special Malinke rhythm from the Faranah region about a mask of spiritual relevance

Soli Des Manian
A significant initiation (coming-of-age) rhythm of the Manian people from Forest Guinea

A traditional Malinke rhythm that is known as ‘The Mother of all Dununba Rhythms’

A traditional Malinke rhythm from North East Guinea about a special group of girls called ‘Mendiani’

A rhythm of the Baoule people from Ivory Coast traditionally played to welcome the King

A traditional and popular rhythm of the Manian people of Forest Guinea, Beyla region and Ivory Coast

A rhythm created by Grandmaster Djembefola Mamady Keita. Kanin means ‘Friendship’ in Malinke

I hope you’ve enjoyed these free demo videos. If you feel curious and inspired to learn more, do WhatsApp me to get access to the full explanation videos this will be available at a cost of INR 500 per video. Bulk discounts are available. Alternatively you can also schedule a live (online or in person) masterclass to go deeper into this world of Mandingue Rhythms For Drumset. I look forward to interacting with you. Thanks and happy drumming!

Varun Venkit

More useful videos to know more about this project:
Here are some videos where I talk about my inspiration for this project and other highlights:

Learn West African Rhythms
for the drum kit

Varun Venkit’s inspiration for
‘Mandingue Rhythms For Drumset’

Mandingue Rhythms for Drumset: FAQ / Best Practice Video

Here’s a detailed video about the best way to consume this video based learning series, my drum kit set up, what’s the best way to learn, what next once you’ve learned the rhythms and more…