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Red Tweneboa Djembe Review by michi on Tue Jan 01, 2013 5:53 am
Way back in March 2009, we had a discussion on Ghanaian djembes. This was followed in August 2010 by a similar discussion.

The upshot of these threads is that a number of experienced drum makers and players expressed doubt about the quality of Ghanaian djembes, the majority of which are made of a wood called Tweneboa. That wood is very pale (almost white) in color, has a spongy texture and low weight, and is very soft (soft enough to make a dent with a finger nail). In my opinion, (white) Tweneboa is utterly unsuitable for djembes. All the Tweneboa djembes I ever dealt with sound anaemic, lack overtones, and don't achieve proper volume. I would prefer an...

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Gambia by Jacab on Fri Nov 27, 2009 1:47 pm
Hi, I am going to Gambia on the 7th December 2009, I am going on my own and staying at Kotu beach and want to get in as much drumming as I can am pretty new to Djembie but love it, so would be grateful for any info am on a bit of a tight budget Gwen

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Mini-Guinea San Diego, May 2010, day 6 by michi on Wed May 05, 2010 10:26 pm
Day 6 (Monday) of the camp.

Mamady has split the class into advanced and intermediate groups. There are eleven people (some not so advanced) in the advanced group.

The intermediates started on a rhythm called Deniya, composed by Mamady. Deniya means "youth" or "childhood". Mamady spoke quite a bit about his childhood, how he was taken away at age 12 to join the (not yet formed) Ballet Djoliba, and how he missed his family and village. Reading between the lines, there was a lot of pain and sadness in him in those days, and Mamady himself said that there is a large part of childhood that he missed out on. The rhythm is a 6/8 where the djembe accompaniments start on the last (3rd) micro-pulse before the 1 and the 3. Some of the intermediates where struggling mightily with feeling that right, endlessly pushing the first note onto the pulse...

The advanced group did the solo for Soliwulen. It's the same solo as on Mamady's volume 4 DVD. Soliwulen is a mask dance that is...

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Mini-Guinea San Diego, April 2010, day 4 by michi on Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:57 am
Today's Group 1 class finished off Zaouli 6. We spent quite a bit of time at the end of the class having fun, playing Zaouli and using breaks 5 and 6.

Group 2 is struggling a bit with Zaouli 7 and isn't through learning the break yet. About a third of it still remains to learn.

The pyramid class continued to work on Mamady's insane break (and actually finished it--sound clip below). During the pyramid class, Mamady passed on a lot of interesting info. First up, I got the origin of this break wrong: Mamady didn't do this in his Ivory Coast days in the Eighties, but earlier, in Guinea in 1977, which is when he composed the entire pyramid.

Mamady related quite a bit of the history of the ballets. Basically, the early ballets were modelled on the European ballets, where the orchestra was hidden in an orchestra pit, so it wouldn't distract the audience from the dance. With the African ballets, they did the same, only the musicians were hidden in the side stage. (If you watch early Ballet...

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Mini-Guinea San Diego, May 2010, day 10 by michi on Sat May 08, 2010 7:36 am
Day 10 (Friday) of the camp.

Last day of teaching--the performance will be tomorrow.

The intermediate group finished Mendiani. Not easy to feel, and quite a difficult solo.

The advanced group quickly rehearsed Djigui and then moved on to one of Mamady's dununba compositions called Seli Mafo. "Seli" means celebration or prayer, and "Mafo" means good or happy. In other words, it means "Happy party".

On days of festivals and celebrations, there is a custom among the Mandingue people to have a group of drummers walk around the village to wake people up in a joyful way at 5:00 am (!) in preparation of the day's celebrations. I asked whether people wouldn't throw things at the musicians for being woken up at 5:00am by drums and the answer was "only money" :)

Normally, a variety of traditional party rhythms are played for this occasion; Mamady composed this rhythm...

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