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Percussion instrumentAshiko_header_cell_0_0_0
ClassificationAshiko_header_cell_0_1_0 MembranophoneAshiko_cell_0_1_1
Hornbostel–Sachs classificationAshiko_header_cell_0_2_0 211.251.1

(Open ended conical drum)Ashiko_cell_0_2_1

DevelopedAshiko_header_cell_0_3_0 YorubaAshiko_cell_0_3_1

The ashiko is a drum, shaped like a tapered cylinder (or truncated cone) with the head on the wide end, and the narrow end open. Ashiko_sentence_0

It is made of hardwood and generally has a goatskin hide. Ashiko_sentence_1

It is played with the hands, and tuned by ropes. Ashiko_sentence_2

Ashiko drums – or variants thereof – are traditionally found in West Africa, as well as part of the Americas. Ashiko_sentence_3

History Ashiko_section_0

The origins of the ashiko drum are traced to the Yoruba culture in (mainly) present-day Nigeria and Benin, West Africa. Ashiko_sentence_4

The word “ashiko” is also traced to a word in the Yoruba language meaning either “drum” or (with tonal difference) "time-frame" or “freedom”. Ashiko_sentence_5

The drum has a long tradition in Yoruba culture, where the drum functioned in community celebrations, as well as a “talking drum”. Ashiko_sentence_6

Traditional ashikos were/are hand carved from a single lug of wood and were not straight cones. Ashiko_sentence_7

Perhaps because Yorubaland and surrounding areas were strongly involved in (affected by) the Atlantic slave trade, drums with similar forms and characteristics are historically found in Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Latin American cultures and traditions. Ashiko_sentence_8

In Cuba specifically,“ashiko-like” drums can be identified in the drum known as “bocú” in Eastern Cuba, as well as one of the drums (a solo drum) used in the Abakua secret society. Ashiko_sentence_9

Drums similarly shaped to the ashiko - including the "truncated cone" form - can also be found in Afro-Colombian music (the Tambor Alegre in the Caribbean region of Colombia), as well as in Afro-Brazilian music, such as the Timbau. Ashiko_sentence_10

The latter, from the Bahia region, tends to have however synthetic heads and is, unlike the ashiko, tuned by pegs. Ashiko_sentence_11

The African/Nigerian ashiko as such first got disseminated and popularized in some circles in the US in the 1930s, after Nigerian drummer Moses Mianns migrated to New York in the 1930s. Ashiko_sentence_12

The ashiko got popular on a much wider scale in the US and elsewhere in the 1950s with the popularity in the West of Yoruba musician Babatunde Olatunji, whose African music and dance troupe travelled and performed, including ashiko and other drums. Ashiko_sentence_13

Since then the ashiko got included more in local drum circles, also in the US and elsewhere in the Western world, though it remains there in the present relatively less popular or widespread than the djembe, conga, or bongos drums. Ashiko_sentence_14

Characteristics Ashiko_section_1

Some call the ashiko a "male" counterpart to the djembe, though this is contradicted by references to the relatively matriarchal Yoruba culture. Ashiko_sentence_15

Also it being regarded as "between a djembe and a conga" is seen as wrong, and disrespectful to the ashiko itself and its own tradition, including a distinct playing technique, different from the djembe or conga. Ashiko_sentence_16

It is a drum in itself and not a counterpart or derivative. Ashiko_sentence_17

There is, besides this, a geographical difference, as the djembe's origins are associated with the Mali empire (Guinee and Mali region), and the ashiko's as said with Yorubaland. Ashiko_sentence_18

Superficial sonic similarities with the djembe relate to the goatskin head it has in common with it, but the longer, cylinder form of the ashiko drum makes the bass tone “deeper” than that of the bowl-shaped djembe, while in general the sounds – most speak of three different tones of the ashiko – are different (a bit softer) when compared to the djembe. Ashiko_sentence_19

Some percussionists argue that the ashiko knows more "middle tones" when compared to the djembe. Ashiko_sentence_20

Modern ashiko drums produced in the West are often made of vertical staves. Ashiko_sentence_21

Like other drums they can be purchased with the standard 8, 10, or 12 inch diameters of the hides. Ashiko_sentence_22

Ashikos tuned by lugs and metal tacks are nowadays also produced. Ashiko_sentence_23

Some manufacturers use cow hide to make the ashiko resemble an Afro-Cuban conga. Ashiko_sentence_24

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