"Dundun is the most characteristic type of Yoruba traditional drumming and features in a wide variety of social context, both religious and secular.
Hourglass tension drums, which form the basis of dundun, are found all over West Africa and are believed to have entered the region from the north. Their spread over Yorubaland was coincident with the rise of the Oyo Empire and the chief exponents of dundun are located in central and northern Yorubaland.
The use of musical instruments as speech surrogates is a major aspect of Yoruba culture and the preeminence of dundun in the culture is directly related to the value and versatility of tension drums as talking instruments.
Dundun is practised extensively among the Yoruba and is the best- known type of traditional drumming." excerpt from: Yoruba Drumming: The Dundun Tradition by Akin Euba, Bayreuth African Studies Series, 1990
"Among the Yoruba the most popular ensemble drums are the dundun, bata, igbin and ipese.
The dundun ensemble consists of several hourglass drums with tuning cords and a small kettledrum, the gudugudu. The largest of the hourglass drums is the iya ilu ( mother drum ). It is used chiefly as a talking drum. In performance, the drummer can alter the pitch of the instrument to correspond with the high, middle or low sounds of the Yoruba language. In the case of the accompanying hourglass drums a cross-strap is tied around the cords, thereby fixing the pitch.(...)
The hourglass drums are played with a single curved beater(...)
Dundun ensembles are often used to perform poems of praise in honour of the Yoruba deities."
excerpt from the book: Andreas Meyer - Afrikanische Trommeln West- und Zentralafrika, Berlin 1997 p.242
The talking drum is an hourglass-shaped drum from West Africa, whose pitch can be regulated to mimic the tone and prosody of human speech. It has two drumheads connected by leather tension cords, which allow the player to modulate the pitch of the drum by squeezing the cords between their arm and body. A skilled player is able to play whole phrases. See: Talking drum - wikipedia.org