Kuku (coucou) Rhythm
Kuku is a circle dance and drum rhythm of West Africa. Traditionally, women danced Kuku to celebrate
their return from fishing. It is very popular, and is today played at all kinds of celebrations such as
parties and the full moon. Traditionally Kuku was performed only on djembes. Two djembe were tuned
as normal, and one was tuned lower to get the deeper sound. However, it is common to now here
dundun part improvised along with the djembe parts.
Kuku is played similar to a round, with one part overlaying another. There is also a “call” which is played
to signal the start, change, or end of the rhythm.
There are many improvisational and variant parts to Kuku. Just doing a simply google search for Kuku
will bring up dozens of websites, videos, notations, and explanations of Kuku that are all slightly
different. It is a basic rhythm that has been added upon, revised, and improvised. Many teachers have
their own style. Don’t worry about which ones are “right”. The Kuku parts presented here are quite
common and will fit into any Kuku, regardless of what other improvisations or variant parts may be
T= tone, S= Slap, B=bass, f=flam, r=right hand, l=left hand
Word Patterns to help you learn and remember the part are also noted.
T ◦ T T ◦ T ◦ T T ◦ S S S ◦ ◦ ◦
r ◦ r l ◦ r ◦ l r ◦ r l r ◦ ◦ ◦
Let’s Get Rea- dy To Stop Right Now
B ◦ T T ◦ ◦ S ◦ B ◦ T T ◦ ◦ S ◦
r ◦ r l ◦ ◦ r ◦ r ◦ r l ◦ ◦ r ◦
T T ◦ S T T S ◦ T T ◦ S T T S ◦
r l ◦ l r l r ◦ r l ◦ l r l r ◦
Cou Cou For Co Co Puffs Cou Cou For Co Co Puffs