A friend from work rather graciously allowed me to borrow a djembe, and I’m having trouble figuring out how to record it.
A djembe is incredibly flexible; it can do high notes like a conga, and it can boom like a tympani. The technique you use to play it is very powerful; you use your fingers, your palm, anything. (I even use my wedding ring, because I’m weird. If I made a list of “instruments played” I’d have “ring” on there just to annoy people.)
I’ve been using it rather … playfully, just trying to see how to record it. I’m using a mic under the djembe, which seems to pick up the full range of its sound. As a result, thanks to the nature of the drum, I’m not even using a bass at all.
When I play low notes on any other instruments, I’m thinning them out, to let the djembe do its thing.
Therein lies the problem, really. The djembe is tuned to C; as a result, because it’s such a tone-driven instrument, it’s making it hard for me to use any other keys. I like the key of C, it’s a nice key and all, but I don’t always write in it or its sad friend Am.
So how do I record the djembe such that I retain its character, but without having it dominate everything else? I thought about compressing the heck out of it, to limit the length of its notes (like a suppressed bass drum) but that… ouch, that kills a lot of its character.