The muted note is also known as a dead note, muffled note or silenced note.
It is so called because the pitch or tone of the note is silenced by restricting the vibration of the drum. This creates a clap, slap or crack type sound, which can be used to add flavor or color to a rhythm.
It is played by by striking a note on the drum with one hand while holding the other hand tightly on the face of the drum.
The note is relatively easy to play on a djembe. Place either hand firmly in the middle of the drum, resting on the face. Now play a tone with the other hand. The drum's natural resonance is muted and you get a shorter sound without any ring.
You can also vary the pitch of the muted note by pushing harder or softer on the face. Try playing a few muted tones with one hand while pushing harder and softer on the face with the other.
The muted tone is shown in the charts with a 'gi' or 'di'. Gi is played with the black hand i.e. the red hand is resting on the drum, and 'di' is played vice versa.
Try this exercise to hear it in practice.
Play a bass note with the 1st hand. Then on count 4 play a bass with the 2nd hand, but this time, when your hand hits the drum, hold it there (don't let it bounce off). Now play the muted tone with the 1st hand. It looks like this
You can also play several muted noted in succession to create a rhythm all of its own. This works best when there is another drum or rhythm accompanying the djembe.
The muted note is a quick and easy note to learn and can create some interesting effects with minimal effort. It is well worth adding to any djembe player's bag of tricks.
The next thing we're going to look at is Swing Timing