djembefolettes

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Re: djembefolettes

Postby bubudi » Sun Dec 27, 2009 11:12 am

e2c wrote:As with many other things in life, it's a matter of degree.


exactly. i wasn't meaning to imply that women have it well in the west. just better (in some fundamentally important ways).

i haven't met many women who are hard core about mande percussion, but those i have met who are have been an absolute joy to play with and i didn't experience any of the bullshit that goes with some male egos. it's so nice when someone is in the moment, giving the music what it needs, and everyone is spurred on to do their best, without trying to prove anything. alas, most male drummers i have worked with still have a ways to go to get there.
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Re: djembefolettes

Postby michi » Sun Dec 27, 2009 11:56 am

e2c wrote:You know what, fellas? There are a *lot* of men out here (in the US) who don't like the idea of women playing African and Afro-Cuban drums - there is a HELL of a lot of prejudice, and - sometimes - hazing - involved for women who want to try to learn.


That is truly sad :(

It took me almost 20 years to find someone who was willing to teach me (a woman) djembe and duns without regard to my sex, skin color, etc. etc. etc. And I got some small share of the hassle that occurs when women want to play/learn; I'm sure other women (especially in the drum/dance community where I lived for many years) got much, MUCH more grief for wanting to try.


That's interesting. One thing I have noticed is that, in Australian drumming circles, women usually account for 70-80% of the participants. I have no idea why that is. But there are definitely more women playing djembe here than men. Maybe it has something to do with that beating an African drum is hard to reconcile with the image of the Marlboro man riding off into the sunset...

And meanwhile, Sule Greg Wilson's book The Drummer's Path (much beloved of many early adopters of the djembe, back in the late 80s-early 90s) STILL has passages about why women should NOT play djembe. Greg thinks the drum is so powerful that it will damage our ovaries (among other things). I have to say, with all due respect to him for his musical ability, that that is complete and unadulterated bullshit to the Nth power. Yet he has a lot of partisans.


I read that book, and wasn't that impressed. There were interesting bits but, overall, I sort of thought he misses the point. And clearly, the bit about women is just total bullshit.

I have also heard from women dancers about the unfortunate tendency (seldom discussed in public) on the part of many men in the US drum & dance scene to demand sexual favors in "payment" for playing and other coaching. (And also about sexual harassment and even assault.) AFAIK, this is coming mainly from American men, but I suspect that some Africans are involved in this crap, too.


I suspect that this really has nothing to do with djembe or African dance, but simply with the fact that some men in just about any social situation will make inappropriate advances on women. In this respect, being a dancer in an African dance class is probably little different from being a waitress in a diner.

At the same time, I've also experienced being forced out of another online musicians' community (one that i helped build) by some guys who wanted the place to be a "men only" hang - to the point that some really nasty things were posted about me in public.


As I said, I care about the music, not the sex of the musician. (BTW--if you hadn't told me that you are a woman, I wouldn't know.)

I have no problem acknowledging that there are gender differences (life would be pretty boring if that wasn't the case! ;)), but please - can we just be comrades in arms (or in drums?) here and leave the rants about men's rights off to one side?


Sorry, it wasn't meant to be a rant. I was more trying to point out that there are losers on both sides.

And while we're on the subject of disparities, I have to say that I would love to see more American guys dancing. There's a dearth of male dancers here and imo, that reinforces certain stereotypes as well as limiting what can be done onstage and off. (Dununba, anyone?! ;))


Women make up for about 75% percent of drummers, but they account for around 99% percent of dancers over here. Now, for the men, what a missed chance: just imagine having a peer group where 99% of participants are of the opposite sex ;-)

Cheers,

Michi.
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Re: djembefolettes

Postby michi » Sun Dec 27, 2009 12:13 pm

e2c wrote:That man's attitude is absolutely sickening and abhorrent - although marital rape wasn't recognized as a crime here in the US until the late 70s-early 80s, and even now, there's a lot of sentiment against admitting that it even exists. (Just as there are still a lot of people who believe it's a man's right to beat the shit out of his wife and kids when he feels like it.)


As I said, I very much disagree with his statements. (I was very surprised when I first watched "What About Me?" and saw this interview, mainly because the statement is so extreme.)

I'm not at all sure that we're much different than this African man, on the whole, though things are changing - slowly, but they are... (Although they're certainly not changing fast enough for the women and children who suffer daily as a result of these attitudes and actions!)


I strongly believe that things have changed a lot, especially in the western world. Women are in a much more empowered position now than at any time in the past. That's not to say that they are being treated as equals. (They are not. One example: equal pay for equal work has still not been achieved here in Australia, and I suspect has probably not been achieved in most of the western world.)

I just started reading "SuperFreakonomics", by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. In the opening pages of the book, the authors relate how the introduction of cable television has improved the lot of women in Indian remote villages. By watching television, women learn that being mistreated and suppressed is not acceptable in other parts of the world and, as a result, the incidence of unwanted pregnancy (among other things) in these villages has dropped. As is so often the case, lack of education and being suppressed go hand in hand.

with Pres. Obama being in office, but I can assure you that the repercussions are still very much a part of american life, and likely will be for many generations to come.


According to a recent blog post, 8% of Americans believe that Obama is the Anti-Christ, and 13% aren't sure. I suspect that this makes Obama the American president most at risk of assassination in the history of the United States.

;) Yep, although i have to say that the guys I've played with in this geographical area are, in general, pretty low-key with the ego stuff and are glad to play music with anyone who's interested, women and children very much included. (That's how it should be, imo.)


Try the older guys. The lower testosterone levels work wonders ;)

While I would *love* to have a few more women friends who play djembe and duns, the idea of making drumming (and djembe) a women's only thing creeps me out.


Me too. Djembe is about community. And, at least as far as I am concerned, a community of all women (or all men) is far less interesting.

Cheers,

Michi.
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Re: djembefolettes

Postby bubudi » Sun Dec 27, 2009 12:36 pm

most of my students have also been women and most of the participants of drumming classes i have been to have also been women (probably 75%, or 3 out of every 4 students). i put it down to men being fixated on pumping iron these days! the djembe has only reached australia about 20 years ago, so fortunately it doesn't have the same history of segregation here as you do in america.

in answer to rusty's question, when i started this thread i wanted to bring some attention to some of the great (and rather less known) female drummers that are around. partly because i thought that it would be a positive role model for some of them (not that the men can't also be). but also very much because some of these ladies really kick ass and play in a different way to the men. i definitely didn't consider a need to justify women drumming. i simply never saw the need to.
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Re: djembefolettes

Postby the kid » Sun Dec 27, 2009 12:49 pm

bubudi wrote:in answer to rusty's question, when i started this thread i wanted to bring some attention to some of the great (and rather less known) female drummers that are around


Why didn't you say that in the first place. Instead you bring loads of other topics into the discussion and give people fuel to rant on when its totally off the origional subject of the tread.
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Re: djembefolettes

Postby e2c » Sun Dec 27, 2009 5:20 pm

the kid wrote:
bubudi wrote:in answer to rusty's question, when i started this thread i wanted to bring some attention to some of the great (and rather less known) female drummers that are around


Why didn't you say that in the first place. Instead you bring loads of other topics into the discussion and give people fuel to rant on when its totally off the origional subject of the tread.

Do you honestly think that would have changed anything re. some of the posts here (like rusty's)? ;) As for being "off the subject," I think many of the issues that have been raised here in the past day are an inherent part of it.... and the thread *has* been focused on women djembe players for the most part.

@ michi - apologies; the Iron John thing was meant for Rusty, not you, but I didn't make that clear.

Re. people who really know what they're doing and teaching, you have to understand that our history of racial segregation (etc.) has a lot to do with it.

As for sexual assault (etc.) in the drum and dance community, I'll stick by what I've been told in confidence. It sounds like the incidence is pretty high, in some areas, at least. (Contrast that with ballet and modern dance, where most male dancers and choreographers are gay .... there's also harassment of gay men who are part of the historic drum & dance community here in the US, but that's a whole other topic).

As for the guys I usually play with, they're mostly younger than me (in their 30s and 40s). No problems there; nor with a number of younger jazz musicians I've known - nor with the college-age djembe students I've played with, for that matter. I think most of these guys have had their own struggles with being treated, at best, as nerds/geeks by other guys (especially while growing up).

As for overall ratios of women to men in djembe classes here in the US, I really can't comment, since I haven't been able to travel and get a feel for what things are like in other geographical areas.
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Re: djembefolettes

Postby bubudi » Sun Dec 27, 2009 5:51 pm

if people want to go on an off-topic rant they will. look at all the off-topic rants we've had on lots of other threads. i reckon it was pretty clear that this latest discussion was not the original purpose of the thread ;)

i'm waiting to see what rusty says since he didn't fully explain himself and i somehow don't think he intended to say that women shouldn't drum. hopefully he hasn't thrown in the towel ;)
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Re: djembefolettes

Postby e2c » Sun Dec 27, 2009 7:10 pm

bubudi wrote:if people want to go on an off-topic rant they will. look at all the off-topic rants we've had on lots of other threads. i reckon it was pretty clear that this latest discussion was not the original purpose of the thread ;)

Indeed! :giggle: :shock: 8)

i'm waiting to see what rusty says since he didn't fully explain himself and i somehow don't think he intended to say that women shouldn't drum. hopefully he hasn't thrown in the towel ;)

Me too. :) fwiw, I didn't get the impression that he said that women shouldn't play, but I'm not entirely sure what he *did* mean. some clarification would be most welcome, imo! :)
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Re: djembefolettes

Postby michi » Sun Dec 27, 2009 9:10 pm

e2c wrote:As for being "off the subject," I think many of the issues that have been raised here in the past day are an inherent part of it....


When I first started playing and saw Djembefola and Mögöbalu for the first time, I heard Mamady mention in one of the interviews that the djembe has many things to teach. Nearly six years later, I'm beginning to realize just how true that is. Because of the djembe, I have learned so many things that, on the face of it, have nothing to do with music, and everything to do with tolerance, patience, grit, determination, tradition, passion, giving and receiving, community... Without the djembe, I never would have gone to Africa, would have never experienced poverty first hand, would have missed out on some of the most joyful and significant moments of my life, would not have taken up a number of causes...

With this in mind, the current topic is right on topic, so to speak...

@ michi - apologies; the Iron John thing was meant for Rusty, not you, but I didn't make that clear.


No apology necessary!

Cheers,

Michi.
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Re: djembefolettes

Postby e2c » Sun Dec 27, 2009 9:23 pm

michi - about your life experience: I can say pretty much the same. :) It's one of the wonderful things about following the music, no?

I also agree that that is right on topic.

as for what you said earlier re. the men's movement, it sounds like you're in a good place with that, and hanging with some good guys. There were groups here in the US that were good, while others went (and are still going) to some (to me) fairly unsettling extremes. (Though my experience with it has - obviously! - been secondhand, and the men I knew who were involved in it also tended toward wanting to become shamans and the like, so all of those varied ideas were all mushed together and... sometimes they included drums - like the djembe - but taken completely out of their actual cultural contexts, with no idea of respect for the traditions and repertoire and... well. Kinda Sule Greg Wilsoni-sh, on the whole! [To be fair, i have played with him in some jam sessions and he is a genuinely nice, friendly guy and good musician; now focused primarily on banjo.])
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Re: djembefolettes

Postby michi » Sun Dec 27, 2009 9:47 pm

e2c wrote:sounds like you're in a good place with that, and hanging with some good guys.


There are definitely a lot of good guys involved who are trying to bring about a change for the better in a gentle way that leaves both sides more empowered.

There were groups here in the US that were good, while others went (and are still going) to some (to me) fairly unsettling extremes. (Though my experience with it has - obviously! - been secondhand, and the men I knew who were involved in it also tended toward wanting to become shamans and the like, so all of those varied ideas were all mushed together and... sometimes they included drums - like the djembe - but taken completely out of their actual cultural contexts, with no idea of respect for the traditions and repertoire


I first came across the djembe at a men's gathering and I'm hard pressed to think of other key moments in my life that have been as significant to me. (Getting married, the birth of my son, and the death of my parents come to mind--hearing my first djembe really has been that significant to me.)

Like in the US, the men's movement here attracts men from all walks of life who bring all sorts of things with them. I've mostly moved on now and only hang around on the periphery, mainly because of the "mushed together" thing you mentioned. For my taste, there was too much crystal healing, rebirthing, and fake shamanism thrown into the mix for me to remain comfortable. But, on the whole, I believe that the men's movement does a valuable job and, beyond doubt, has helped many men find a better and more fulfilled life in a way that makes these men more valuable to others around them.

Kinda Sule Greg Wilsoni-sh, on the whole!


Greg is entitled to his views just as everyone else. If I happen to disagree with him on some points, that doesn't make him a bad man; just someone whom I disagree with.

[To be fair, i have played with him in some jam sessions and he is a genuinely nice, friendly guy and good musician; now focused primarily on banjo.])


I know a number of people whom I like deeply and whose ethics are impeccable. Yet, when I make the mistake of talking politics with them, it takes all my impulse control not to do something I would bitterly regret later ;-) Fortunately, the older I get, the easier it gets to channel those feelings into education instead of confrontation...

Cheers,

Michi.
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Re: djembefolettes

Postby e2c » Sun Dec 27, 2009 10:06 pm

Quickly (since this *is* off-topic now) - I think a lot of the ideas in Greg's book are pretty far out there, but the book is *not* Greg the person. :)

As for your 1st encounter with the djembe, it sure sounds like you were in the right place at the right time. "Yes" on what you describe re. the men's movement (I've been around similar stuff), but i do think a lot of the ideas that Bly and others have hit on are important and worth exploring. I just wish it was done in a less mumbo-jumbo-y way (all mixed up with Joseph Campbell, white proponents of "shamanism," et. al.).

As for teaching versus arguing, yeah! (That said, I still fall into the argument trap a bit too often... but I'm working on that. :))
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Re: djembefolettes

Postby bubudi » Mon Dec 28, 2009 12:24 pm

a friend of mine went to a confest a few years ago, told me there were guys in the nude playing djembes in sweatlodges. the remos kept their tune through all that humidity.

now for some more women emasculating the djembe... also known as kicking some major ass



View it on Youtube


View it on Youtube


View it on Youtube


View it on Youtube


View it on Youtube


View it on Youtube
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Re: djembefolettes

Postby e2c » Mon Dec 28, 2009 5:04 pm

you go!!! (for bubudi and the women in those vids!)

They're kickin' it, alright!!! :D
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Re: djembefolettes

Postby e2c » Mon Dec 28, 2009 6:04 pm

I want to give huge props to the ladies of Giwayen Mata -


View it on Youtube


View it on Youtube

Makes me want to move to Atlanta, or at least go down there for some classes and workshops!!! :D
They're doing some hugely creative stuff with the music and dance, and you know - there are some other really good troupes and dance teachers in that area.

fwiw, I think the way the lead djembe players in the vid are strapped up is probably something that works a lot better for women in general. I also like the way their soloists are so mobile - you can even see one of them doing some serious steps while drumming - moving in among the dancers, and around them. :D

While I have no doubt that some of these women could shred it if they wanted to, I love the way they work the drums and dance into an integrated whole - am sure some of that comes from the fact that they all have a lot of dance experience (African and otherwise). I'd *love* to see an all-male troupe that could do the same - would not only be a smokin' show, but the collaborative possibilities would be just amazing. :)
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