Martin Klabunde
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Martin Klabunde

Tucson, Arizona, United States | SELF

Tucson, Arizona, United States | SELF
Band World Acoustic


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"Rhythmic Awakening"

Martin Klabunde, local musician and spiritualist, has studied drumming for the last 20 years. Having traveled much of east and West Africa, Martin has picked up a variety of ritual and tribal drumming techniques. His passion lies in music as it is used in ceremony and ritual, and he wishes to reveal a path of spiritual awakening to others.

While trained in a variety of techniques, he specializes in the djembe; a skin-covered hand drum shaped like a large goblet and meant to be played with bare hands. According to the Bamana people in Mali, the name of the djembe comes directly from the saying “Anke dje, anke be” which literally translates to “everyone gather together.”

Martin says that when a simply rhythm is played by a group of people, a pure intention is created. He brings his beliefs to his classes as part of The Dambe Project, a non-profit organization specializing in creating West African performance art, and more recently, Collective Awakening, an organization committed to providing pathways for spiritual awakening.

Martin was interested in drumming by the age of 6, but growing up in Omaha, Nebraska; it would take a long time for him to be introduced to the drum techniques he is now renowned for.
Martin started on drums at the age of 14, playing a rock ‘n’ roll set, influenced by hardcore punk bands from the 80s. He was also interested in skateboarding and punk rock – which took him to Seattle in 1990, at the height of grunge. He drummed in a band called Sledge who played in noisy Jesus Lizard-esque sound. The band was offered a $15,000 recording contract before it kicked out their guitarist and dissolved.

His next musical venture was with an acoustic guitarist and a stand up bassist, who played coffee shops under the moniker Syncophant. Martin told them they’d get bigger gigs if they let him join in on drums, and they eventually accepted. The band started blowing up and selling out gigs. By the time they were about to get signed to a $1.5 million recording contract, Martin was fed up with the substance abuse surrounding Seattle’s music scene.
“You couldn’t pay me enough to be around these sick relationships. Music is supposed to be beautiful,” he said.

After getting punched by a drunken member of Syncophant and witnessing drug overdoses of his friends, Martin decided to turn down the contract and look for something new.
“$1.5 million for five records was a lot of money. I knew if I did, I’d be selling out on such a deep level, that I knew I’d regret it. Instead of feeling fear, I felt free. I walked away.”

Martin had already studied hand drums recreationally while in Seattle for some time. After ditching his recording contract and with a new lease on life, Martin relocated to Tucson where he gained more interest in the cultures that birthed djembe, such as northern Guinea and southern Mali. He decided to travel to east and West Africa not only to become a better djembe player, but also to learn how the cultures use ritual drumming to tune themselves in to realms outside the visible world.

“What I read about them was similar to my own belief system, but I didn’t know where my own belief system came from,” he said. “I read about this culture that spent 80 percent of their time in the unseen world. I said I have to experience this because here, we don’t.”

Martin reported amazing experiences with the tribes, learning about healing and spiritual ceremonies. He brought his learning from abroad back to Tucson to spread his message of spiritual enlightenment through rhythm.

Martin has been teaching djembe drum classes to Tucson residents since 1998, and continues to do so. Currently, he is focusing on a new project - Collective Awakening.

Collective Awakening is a further exploration into Martin’s theories about the use of rhythm to explore the spirit. The project provides opportunities for spiritual awakening to all people, and utilizes the power of music and the drum to open the mind to physical, emotional and spiritual healing. He offers several workshops, classes and performances through the project to spread his message.

“We have this sense of spirituality with us at birth, but we weren’t trained to access it,” said Martin, “Collective Awakening is a tool to bypass the mind. The spirit contains all the answers, but the mind doesn’t know how to access it.”

For information on The Dambe Project:; and check out Collective Awakening:, or call 245-4547. - Zocalo Magazine


All CD's have streaming tracks on

Music for Yoga and Massage

From The Heart: Featuring the Adungu, an indigenous harp from northern Uganda. Martin Klabunde

Loving Kindness Metta: A Guided Meditation for Cultivating Loving Kindness, Martin Klabunde and Sukiyaki Kukudrulu

The Shaman's Drum: A Guided Relaxation and Meditation: Martin Klabunde

Kalumba: Path of Light. Martin Klabunde and Kinobe

Portal Opening: Trance Drumming: Martin Klabunde



Martin Klabunde's mission is to provide a path of awakening through music. With over 20 years of teaching, performance, and workshop facilitation experience, Martin has helped people from all walks of life to achieve inner peace and heightened awareness through an intentional use of music.

Endowed with a unique connection with drumming since childhood, Martin achieved professional skills in both Western and African drumming. Between 1991 and 2005, Martin immersed himself in the indigenous cultures of East and West Africa, studying drumming with initiated drum masters. In 2005, Martin was certified as Professor of the Djembe at Mamady Keita’s Tam Tam Mandengue International School of the Djembe. In 2008 Martin began playing other indigenous instruments such as the Adungu (Ugandan bowl harp) and the Akogo (Ugandan thumb piano). As the director of The Dambe Project, a non-profit organization that utilizes West African performance art in youth mentorship, Martin has taught music in over 75 schools and facilitated drum circles and interactive presentations for 10 to 800 people and for audiences with a diversity of backgrounds.

Martin's musical influences range from the indigenous African music of the Gnawa, Bamana, Malinke, Soso people of West Africa and the Buganda, Acholi and Teso people of East Africa to the modern sounds of George Winston, Ayub Ogada, and Samite.

Martin lives in Tucson, Arizona and travels internationally, studying and creating music, teaching and facilitating classes and workshops, and giving performances.