A djembe also known as jembe, jenbe, djbobimbe, jymbe, yembe, or jimbay, or sanbanyi in Susu; is a skin-covered drum meant to be played with bare hands (but could be played with drum sticks). According to the Bamana people in Mali, the name of the djembe comes directly from the saying "Anke djé, anke bé" which translates to "everyone gather together in peace" and defines the drum's purpose. In the Bambara language, "djé" is the verb for "gather" and "bé" translates as "peace".
The djembe plays a key role in modern music that needs a highly percussive rhythm section. It has been used by such artists as The Beatles, Ben Harper, Queens of the Stone Age, Keller Williams, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, Larry Mullen, Jr of U2, Grateful Dead, Bedouin Soundclash, Incubus' Brandon Boyd, Gruvis Malt, Brian Rosenworcel of Guster, Dispatch, of bands such as The Spirit Merchants, FreeFall, Railway Paddys, Valentino Black, Mick Dunne, Some Lemon, Louisiana Francis, Derek McCreanor, I Swing Both Ways, Double Adaptor, The Mooney Tunes, Toss the Feathers, Toss the Michael Jnr, The Concordes, S Club Juniors, John Butler Trio Afterparty, Lemon, The Blizzards and too many jazz bands to mention. An American manufactured version of an African djembe was played on main stage with a New Zealand Maori fire twirler in a show produced by the Canadian circus company, Cirque du Soleil, called Allegria, which was filmed in Australia in 2000. In 2008 June, the djembe was featured in the American film "The Visitor", directed by Tim McCarthy, depicting a university professor's unlikely introduction to drum circles through the instruction of a young Syrian drummer. The djembe is very popular in drum circles, and in many circles is the primary instrument, most likely for its easily portable size, wide range of sounds, and its distinct tones. In certain songs using the djembe it replaces a drumset to give it a different feel, such as "Burn One Down" by Ben Harper. The British power electronics band Whitehouse experimented a lot with djembes and other African percussion instruments on their last three albums, and the former member William Bennett later started what he calls the "Afro Noise" Project, in which he attempts to give African percussion instruments an important role in noise music.