This Susu rhythm from the Faranah region in north-east Guinea accompanies the song called Manya O, used for the initiation rites when boys become men. To mark this important time in their lives, the music is played extremely fast, like an alarm signal, hence this notation is written double-spaced to fit in the double notes. For speed, the Dununba is played vertically without bell with two sticks (ballet-style) while the other duns blast away on bells.

Intro/Outro/Break Section

140bpm 12/8 | 1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a  |
Djembe call |             OOOOOOOOO..O | + ("never never never difficult")
       (everyone stops their parts ^ here, then answers...)
Djembes   O | O.S.S..OO.S.S..OO.S.S..B |   ("Come on let's play" x3)
Bells     x | x.x.x..xx.x.x..xx.x.x... |   then return to
Kenkeni   K | K.K.K..KK.K.K..KK.K.K... |   Main Rhythm or
Sangban   G | G.G.G..GG.G.G..GG.G.G... |   play upbeat and
Dununba   D | D.D.D..DD.D.D..DD.D.D..D |   downbeat to end

This is how we play the Intro/Break/Outro. Seckou had us doing the above twice (six lots of "Come on let's play") for the Intro+Break and once for the ending. But I prefer to keep it simpler. In our way, the leader starts the call halfway through the Dununba's fourth line so that everyone joins the Dununba in unison; this way, the Dununba player just carries on doing its part right through the song. Mamady's CD ends the Outro on beat 4& (the ^ above), but we add an extra upbeat+downbeat to round it off nicely. I think Seckou taught the Djembes to play all Slaps in the Break, but Mamady's CD is definitely OO.S.S, which sounds better.

Main Rhythm

140bpm 12/8 | 1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a  |
Bell 1      | x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x. |
+Sangban    | G.G...G.G...G.G...G.G... |   ("Kalah, Kalah, ...")

Bell 2      | x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x.x. |
+Kenkeni    | ..K.K.K.K.....K.K.K.K... |   ("[rest] 2, 3, 4, 5")

Dununba   D | D......................D | + ("Come on, 2, 3, 4,...")
Dununba     | D......................D | +
Dununba     | D......................D | +
Dununba     | D.D.D..DD.D.D..DD.D.D..D |   ("Come on let's play" x3)

Djembe 1    | B...OOOOO...B...OOOOO... |   ("Bass, it's not difficult")
              r   rlrlr
Djembe 2  B | S..OO.S.S.OOS.SO.OS.S..B |
          l   r  rl r l rlr lr lr l  l

Here are our words for remembering the Dununba's fourth line (which is also the Intro/Break) and Djembe 2:

It's critical that everyone follow the Sangban part to keep it all locked. Notice how the Kenkeni bounces off the Dununba + Sangban downbeat, and how Djembe 2's slaps shadow the Sangban:

            | 1 & a 2 & a 3 & a 4 & a  |
Sangban     | G.G...G.G...G.G...G.G... |
Djembe 2  B | S..OO.S.S.OOS.SO.OS.S..B |


The song is sung in call and response. The lyrics are calling on the young men to "show yourself off (x3), showing yourself off suits you well".

  Manya O
  Manya O
  Manya O
  Manya beni ma


  1. Song
  2. Intro
  3. Main rhythm all playing Djembe 1
  4. Break
  5. Main rhythm with a few people playing Djembe 2 over others on 1
  6. Break
  7. Main rhythm with a few different people playing Djembe 2 over others on 1
  8. Break
  9. [repeat 7+8 for however many Djembe 2 groups there are]
  10. Main rhythm with everyone (capable) playing Djembe 2 over others on 1
  11. Echauffement
  12. Outro, ending on an extra downbeat

This is how we play it - Mamady's CD differs a bit.


A good soloist would place phrases in the gaps of the dununba pattern. When we performed this piece, I was playing dununba standing behind Seckou. Amidst his frenetic solos, he kept turning around to me with an evil grin and pointing to the back of his T-shirt, which read: "MORE FIRE!" :-)

Key to notation

(c) Traditional Guinean rhythm taught by Seckou Keita at a djembe workshop at Winterdrum in High Wycombe, England on 2008-03-01, and featured on Mamady Keita's CD "Mandeng Djara" (notated by Malcolm Smith during the class and Justine Hart afterwards, and reformatted here on 2015-06-19, last updated on 2015-06-20 - still to be checked and completed).