The Rhythm of Folk Music


Hambone, also known as patting Juba/Djouba, is not your typical instrument, but it is one of the main instruments of folk music. Hambone uses the body as percussion by slapping mainly the chest and thighs (though it is not limited to these parts of the body). It originated during slavery when drums were outlawed by slave masters when they discovered that the enslaved were using drums to send messages to achieve freedom. As a result, the enslaved used their bodies as percussion in place of drums.


The Djembe is a goblet shaped drum that originated from West Africa. The djembe is played with your bare hands, and has three main pitches: bass, tone, and slap. It is important to note that it was traditionally played by griots, men who knew all of their people’s history and passed their wisdom down, who used the drum for storytelling. Similarly, the enslaved used the djembe in this same way.

    Rhythm Bones

Rhythm bones are exactly what they sound like-bones. When they were used by the enslaved, they were typically made from the bones of animals, as they had to make music with what they had available, but they can also be made from wood. They are played by clapping the two bones together.


The washboard was originally used by the enslaved for obvious reasons, to wash clothes but similarly to rhythm bones, they began to use them to make music due to their lack of resources. The player taps or slides their finger across the washboard in order to produce a percussion sound.


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