Gnawa music as a starting point for new thoughts

Discuss traditional rhythms, singing etc

Re: Gnawa music as a starting point for new thoughts

Postby djembefeeling » Thu Jun 29, 2017 7:28 pm

vincent wrote:For beginners it can be very tricky if one plays x . x x . x x . x x . x while another plays x x . x x . x x . x x .

Yes, it is very tricky, not only for beginners. Two of my progressed students try to play Maraka these days, and while the one plays the Malian passport |s.t|s.b| the other one tries to play |bst|ts.|bs.|bs.|, but both always want to play their slaps simultaniously. Playing x x . x x . x x . x x . is already the hardest of the pairs, but with a base on the beat and a slap on the pulse right after that beat it's epecially wicked.

vincent wrote:So I plan to work on the one hand the Ganga drums technique (...) it's very easy to catch, for " * o o * c " falls exactly with " o o * o o "

Yes, it does. Perhaps it is still foreign to me, but I wonder if the time I would need to teach those patterns to my students would also do for teaching it in the good old trial and error or rather listening comprehensive style. Of course, when you consistently teach the three beats system from the beginning it becomes a habit and gets easier with each time you use it.

vincent wrote:(Notice that the quaternary form, although interesting, is rather unconceivable in this style, because of the bell technique. That's one of the reasons for which I'm interested in this way of playing.)

???

ternarizator wrote:The Ganga drums solve the problem :

1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 . .
o * o o * . o * o o * .
o * o * o . * c * c * .

The two musicians play in fact the same pattern !

I like that. An innovative way to teach!
Last edited by djembefeeling on Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gnawa music as a starting point for new thoughts

Postby ternarizator » Tue Jul 04, 2017 1:35 pm

Let's talk about bell patterns and their influence.

Contrary to what I had suggested in this thread, I now think that the LSM feeling doesn't originate in djembé polyrhythms, nor in bell polyrhythms. Indeed, this type of rhythmical distorsion is to be found concerning music with no bells involved, nor djembés, such as for example gnawa music.

However, bell patterns can strongly influence the way of playing dunun patterns.

1. In some cases, it tends to flatten the rhythm. For example, the first half of the clave pattern in Dyidamba is played very "straight", while the third stroke should be slightly delayed to be conform to the theoretical underlying structure.

2. In some cases, it tends to amplify the unevenness of the InterOnset Intervals, as e.g.in Sòkò, or when Sangban and Dunumba complete eachother in a chauffe (Djaa, Dunungbé etc.). The swing can be very accentuated, tending to LSL with 40 / 20 / 40 % (or SLL in shifted rhythms).

3. Some rhythms that are conceivable in another context become somehow impossible with a "regular" bell (i.e. exclusively consisting of |x . | and |x x . |). It seems to be especially true for quaternary ones, most of ternary rhythms being "bell-able". That means that some possibilities are lost in the Upper-Guinean way of playing (I don't say that it's a bad way of playing, quite the contrary ! I only point out the limitation it does involve).

Your post seems to have been written at the same time as mine, so I explain a bit more :

o . . o . . o o . . o . o . . o needs a pair at this place :

o . . o . . o o . . o . o . . o
. . . . . . x x . . . . . . . .

So you can't do otherwise than place your bell strokes this way :

o . . o . . o o . . o . o . . o
x x . x x . x x . x x . x x . x

Or that way :

o . . o . . o o . . o . o . . o
x x . x x . x x . x x . x . x x

and disaster ! In the first case, the "x" at the end forms a "x x x" with the "x x" at the beginning... (second version is even worse !)

4. Bell patterns tend to crystallize the ternary or quaternary aspect of the rhythm. For example, you can switch very easily from

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . .
o . * o * . . c * . c * c . * o

to its ternary counterpart

1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 . .
o * o * . c * c * c * o (Sunun),

whereas the changeover from

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . .
x . x x . x . x x . x . x x . x
o .(o)o . . . c . . c . c . . o

to

1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 . .
x . x . x x . x . x . x
o . o . . c . c . c . o

looks not as simple...

It's IMO one of the main reasons why we don't see very often the ternarization phenomenon at work.

5. Some bell patterns seem to be the starting point for new rhythms. For example, the cascara pattern :

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . .
x . x x . x . x x . x . x x . x

can be seen as the starting point for the creation of kurubi :

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . .
x . x x . x . x x . x . x x . x
c . . c . c . . o . o . o o . .

The same is true for this version of Madan / Djagbé :

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . .
x . x x . x . x x . x . x x . x
c . . o . o . . o . o . . c . .

Or even for the underlying structure of Yankadi :

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . .
x . x x . x . x x . x . x x . x
o . c c . . . o o . c . c . . o

Any other thoughts about it ?

(Tbc)

Vincent
I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth. (Popper)
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Re: Gnawa music as a starting point for new thoughts

Postby djembefeeling » Wed Jul 05, 2017 2:47 pm

ternarizator wrote:can be seen as the starting point for the creation of kurubi :

1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 . . .
x . x x . x . x x . x . x x . x
c . . c . c . . o . o . o o . .

I do know this rhythm as Denabendunun aka Wadaba aka Lafé. Where does the name Kurubi come from?

ternarizator wrote:Some bell patterns seem to be the starting point for new rhythms.

How can we be sure it worked this way? I am not even sure if the cascara as such is a rhythmical pattern that has an indivudual identity for people in West Africa or if it is rather one of many variations of quaternary bell patterns that group around the underlying son-structure. Denabendunun certainly is a traditional rhythm and not created in a deliberate attempt to use a certain bell pattern. I think the same is true for Madan/Djagbe. Yankadi is hard to tell, since it probably didn't involve bells in the beginning and we cannot make out one original melody of the duns from all the different arrangements out there. The cascara there may be a result of the influence of Cuban music in West Africa, that is Cuban Guaguanco. Then it wouldn't be modelled after a bell pattern but after another rhythm.

ternarizator wrote:In some cases, it tends to flatten the rhythm. For example, the first half of the clave pattern in Dyidamba is played very "straight", while the third stroke should be slightly delayed to be conform to the theoretical underlying structure.

But I cannot see a connection in this case. One could easily play the bell pattern with the same underlying microtiming. I think it was a musical decision to play it rather straight. I am not sure if the relevant recordings of Famoudou Konaté are the standard or "old" way of playing Dydanba, either.

ternarizator wrote:o . . o . . o o . . o . o . . o

I know that David Peñalosa says it is relevant to Cuban music and he thought it is somehow relevant to West African music as well, but I don't know of any West African rhythm that is based on this rhythmic pattern. Do you? I mean, bells are not always played simultaeously by the basists in all drum related music of West Africa and sometimes, even if they are like in Khassonka dundun music, they play bell patterns more or less independent from the dun strokes.
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Re: Gnawa music as a starting point for new thoughts

Postby ternarizator » Tue Jul 11, 2017 1:25 pm

Jürgen wrote:I do know this rhythm as Denabendunun aka Wadaba aka Lafé. Where does the name Kurubi come from?


You're right, it's Lafè. It seems that Kurubi is the burkinabe name of this rhythm.

Let's admit you're right about the cascara pattern.
Could you say the same about the x . x . x . x x . x . x and its shifted version
x . x x . x . x x . x . nearly always found in the sangban parts of respectively djaa and family and dunumbas ? My impression is really that the strokes on the skin are a selection of those of these specific patterns. Moreover, the pattern played by the sangban in djaa resembles the one you would obtain by expanding the ternary clave+bell : playing every other stroke on the skin, it would turn into :

1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 . . 1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 . .
x . x . x . x x . x . x|x . x . x . x x . x . x
o . . . o . . . . o . .|. . c . . . . c . . . .

About o . . o . . o o . . o . o . . o, I made a quick search with g..gl., and found this in a few minutes. Not that I appreciate this kind of modern music, but at least, the pattern is actually used, whatever its origin. (It's not west african, but congolese. We know the "standard pattern" is supposed to be widely spread in africa...)

Do you know a rhythm where a x . x . x . x etc. bell part is not played straight (apart from mendiani) ?

(Tbc)

Vincent
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Re: Gnawa music as a starting point for new thoughts

Postby djembefeeling » Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:10 am

vincent wrote:Could you say the same about the x . x . x . x x . x . x and its shifted version
x . x x . x . x x . x . nearly always found in the sangban parts of respectively djaa and family and dunumbas ? My impression is really that the strokes on the skin are a selection of those of these specific patterns.

That's right.

vincent wrote:Do you know a rhythm where a x . x . x . x etc. bell part is not played straight (apart from mendiani) ?

That's a tough one. I would need serious time to investigate that. I know that I have a Soli or rather Suku on DVD where they play with hard swing the first muffled before the third beat. I cannot remember if it is played with bells though and have to admit it's rather uncommon in Soli. I did hear bells that were played not straight. It'll need time to investigate.
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