Sunu on a 175 year old djembe

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Sunu on a 175 year old djembe

Postby James » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:16 pm

Here's Abdoul Doumbia playing, a djembe that he got from his teacher... he reckons it's 175 years old...

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Re: Sunu on a 175 year old djembe

Postby bkidd » Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:31 pm

The drum sounds great, but let's do a reality check here. If Abdoul Doumbia says the drum comes from his teacher's teacher, then we would have two generations to Abdoul. Let's say that 30 years separates each of the student and teacher pairings, then we would have 60 years before the drum got to Abdoul, which he then adds another 32 years from that point. For the drum to be 175-200 years old, the drum would have needed to be around for ~100 years prior to the first guy getting it or we would need something like 75 years between students and teachers. Possible, yes, but it makes for a much taller tale. Nonetheless, the drum could easily be 75-100 years old without too much suspension of disbelief.

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Re: Sunu on a 175 year old djembe

Postby michi » Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:00 pm

Realistically, there is probably no way to know for sure. (Carbon dating, maybe?)

I have no doubt though that a djembe would last that long. Think about antique furniture that is centuries old and still in pristine condition. A djembe could easily last for hundreds of years too, if it is looked after.

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Michi.
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Re: Sunu on a 175 year old djembe

Postby rachelnguyen » Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:08 pm

I am digging the way the drum and the dununs sound together, too. Sweet. Throaty. NICE.
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Re: Sunu on a 175 year old djembe

Postby bkidd » Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:20 pm

I'm not calling into question whether a djembe could be that old, but rather the leap that it is that old based on it coming from your teacher's teacher.

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Re: Sunu on a 175 year old djembe

Postby djembefeeling » Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:25 pm

bkidd wrote:I'm not calling into question whether a djembe could be that old, but rather the leap that it is that old based on it coming from your teacher's teacher.

I think Abdoul says something like "the teacher of my teachers teacher", but I also doubt the djembe is that old. It looks like it has hardly any traces of this many years being used for music. The iron djembe (djembe with iron rings) is how old in Mali? Some thirty to thirtyfive years maximum? I wonder if traces can be detected on it of the former system. Last, but not least, the interviewer asks really suggestive: how old is this djembe? 200 years? that is the best way to get an answer like that...
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Re: Sunu on a 175 year old djembe

Postby michi » Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:26 am

According to Rainer Polak and Mamady, players started to experiment with iron djembes in the late sixties and early seventies. There was a lot of resistance to the "new-fangled modern stuff" initially but, by the late eighties or early nineties, the modern mounting system had completely replaced the traditional stitching and rawhide rope.

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Re: Sunu on a 175 year old djembe

Postby James » Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:59 am

I'm not going to question this... because ....well beause :rofl:

According to Rainer Polak and Mamady, players started to experiment with iron djembes in the late sixties and early seventies. There was a lot of resistance to the "new-fangled modern stuff" initially but, by the late eighties or early nineties, the modern mounting system had completely replaced the traditional stitching and rawhide rope.


it could have been reskinned / ringed ;)
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Re: Sunu on a 175 year old djembe

Postby djembeweaver » Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:14 am

Sweet playing.

Sometimes you shouldn't let the truth get in the way of a good story...
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Re: Sunu on a 175 year old djembe

Postby Daniel Preissler » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:17 pm

Hello,
I would say very often there are much less than 30 years between teacher and pupil. But much more important is Jürgen's point:
djembefeeling wrote:the interviewer asks really suggestive: how old is this djembe? 200 years? that is the best way to get an answer like that...


Of course, as James wrote, it must have been reskinned quite often!

Sometimes you shouldn't let the truth get in the way of a good story...


Don't be afraid, that's what many people respect in most threads (remember the Madan dance thread and the love/marriage discussion that we had here or every little sentence that MK or FK say to please workshop participants in a particular situation and the reaction on the net)!
It's the wrong idea to start with, when talking about west african music in my eyes. It means that even on this site (where most people claim to look for knowledge), the knowledge aspect (or the searching for it) is much much weaker than the exotism aspect.
In fact, this might be true, but it makes me sad and less and less interested.

Sorry, Daniel
traditional malinke music from Upper Guinea
specialist for sangban/dundunba
band: tolonba
contact: danielfpk@web.de
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Re: Sunu on a 175 year old djembe

Postby djembeweaver » Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:39 pm

Sometimes you shouldn't let the truth get in the way of a good story...

Don't be afraid, that's what many people respect in most threads


I'm not afraid - I can be quite the iconoclast when I smell bullshit. That said most oral traditions are based around gross exageration...I doubt the seige of Troy happened just as Homer recounts (Achilles' speed might have been somewhat over-egged) or that events in the bible are historically accurate.

Me...I like a good story. I'd prefer to live in a world where people still played 150yr old djembes.
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Re: Sunu on a 175 year old djembe

Postby the kid » Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:26 pm

Afoba wrote:Sorry, Daniel


Apology accepted Daniel.. :lol:

Whats the oldest djembe you witnessed when travelling around guinea?

Why do ou believe the soso bala is so old?

There is a huge story telling tradition in west Africa. Do you hope all the stories are true?
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Re: Sunu on a 175 year old djembe

Postby djembefeeling » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:07 pm

Afoba wrote:Of course, as James wrote, it must have been reskinned quite often!

That's out of the question. I just wondered if there are traces of the old stitching and rawhide rope system like little wholes on top of the djembe to tell how old this djembe might be - this seems a bit easier to do for most of us than Carbon dating.
But in a way Jon is right -- we should let it pass as a story. It's not really worth the geeking... :doh:

the kid wrote:There is a huge story telling tradition in west Africa. Do you hope all the stories are true?

C'mon kid, you don't really think he does?! But we can still ask if this particular djembe can be 2oo years old.

thanx for the video, James, btw, it's some really nice soloing on Sunu.
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Re: Sunu on a 175 year old djembe

Postby rachelnguyen » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:20 pm

Daniel,

You bring up some interesting points, but I am not sure I completely understand your exoticism vs. knowledge comment clearly. Can you say more about it? Especially as it relates to FK and MK?

I feel that there is a real challenge for those of us from outside of Africa learning about Africa. I have been apprenticing with my teacher for about 5 years, and have been picking things up in dribs and drabs throughout. There are many on this board with a far greater knowledge of Mande music than I have. Some of that knowledge came from reading books by Africans. Some from learning it from teachers. And some from reading anthropologically orienting books by non-africans. Each of those sources, in my opinion, will give a particular slant to the subject. Each has it's own pitfalls.

When I first learned to play Maraka on the djembe, I learned it from my teacher here in the US. I learned the accompaniment and 4 or 5 solo phrases, strung together with breaks.

In Mali, I studied with another teacher and he taught me a different way of playing Maraka. In his version, there were no breaks. Each solo phrase wove into the next seamlessly. I learned 4 or 5 phrases from him, but they were all different from the ones Sidy had taught me. This was long before I learned dunun, so really, I would not have known they were the same piece if I didn't know the name. (And even that was confusing, LOL. I first learned it as Sidyasa.)

My point is that even in something as straightforward as learning a rhythm, it is not carved in stone. Theses are two guys from the same area of Mali, teaching the same piece, and doing it completely differently. What am I, as a student, to do? Do I run to a book and see what Mamady says? Or how a western ethnomusicologist views it? I suppose I could do that. But I frankly prefer to live with the challenge and uncertaintly of working with the source teachers and assume that at some point in my apprenticeship, things will begin to get cleared up.

As an American, I think it is part of our nature to want answers for everything. Answers exist.... why can't we have them? Right now? It has been part of my study to live in the ambiguity and learn that the answers may take their time to emerge.

What does this all have to do with you post? I am not entirely sure, but somehow I felt that the knowledge that I am seeking is not the same as what I would have been looking for 5 years ago when I started.

Love,
Rachel
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Re: Sunu on a 175 year old djembe

Postby bkidd » Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:53 pm

Afoba wrote:
It's the wrong idea to start with, when talking about west african music in my eyes. It means that even on this site (where most people claim to look for knowledge), the knowledge aspect (or the searching for it) is much much weaker than the exotism aspect.
In fact, this might be true, but it makes me sad and less and less interested.


The exotic aspect of West African culture wore off a long time ago. It's been an interesting journey as a student of West African music and culture. With a mostly oral tradition of knowledge, there's a lot of stock put in what someone says. Due cultural and language differences (not to mention leading questions from students), the pursuit of knowledge in this arena has been fraught with challenges. It's particularly difficult when information comes from second- or third-hand sources. Sometimes these puzzles are fun to work out, whereas, other times they are annoying to disentangle.

There is a sea of information (both good and bad) available. I do my best to avoid propagating, or contributing to, the bad information. I think (hope) that people on this forum share that goal.

Best,
-Brian
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