Just for giggles
By djembeweaver
Good god that Berkley music college story is astonishing but I've heard that same line about African Music being 'free' with no regular pulse....

I met a guy at a festival a few years ago who introduced himself as a djembe player. I went back to his yurt with him, all excited, until he started to play. He told me that he played 'African' music because he just let it flow like they did. He told me you shouldn't learn things because that just stunts your creativity (very un-african according to him). He told me a lot of stuff actually so I said very little. Of course there was absolutely no point in trying to educate this guy so I beat a hasty retreat at the earliest opportunity.

It shows that people can hold quite absurd beliefs though. His argument appeared to be that he played 'African' music because he didn't learn any african music! Also because he couldn't understand the structure he assumed that it had no structure. That's ego for you!

When you come across something so outrageously absurd there is no point engaging at all. Any one who has arrived at such a conclusion will have no interest in having their beliefs challenged.

In a similar vein I got chatting to a guy at a party in about 2000. I was studying for my PhD in cognitive psychology at the time. At the beginning of the 'conversation' I happened to mention that I was studying psychology, at which point he launched into a 30 minute rant about psychology. He had done an 'A' level and I think, in his circles, it was kind of his thing. So he spent half an hour telling me about psychology. What he came out with was half-remembered stuff from the standard 'A' level text with all the gaps filled in with rubbish. I tried engaging for about 5 minutes until I realised that he simply wasn't interested in anything I had to say at all. It apparently never occurred to him that I might have an in-depth knowledge of some of the research he was alluding to. He never even found out that I was doing a Ph.D or that I had personally met some of the major researchers he was talking about.

My point is, I think, that people tell themselves stories, and after enough repetitions it becomes the truth. These stories are intimately linked to our identity and to challenge one is to challenge the other. I have my own stories and feel defensive when they are challenged.

The people at Remo will have a story, and it will make perfect sense in their world. Ditto all the other 'drum makers' in this thread.
By tauber
Agreed. Berklee College of Music (I know because I studied there EXCELLENT STUDY for 7 years and teaching too in Western Music) is not cool or forward thinking when it comes to African music, for one. The way to avoid such things and stay on the best path for you is to realize that most masters are not masters, that we all need to study this stuff if we're serious about it. Compare everything you hear and are taught with some other experience.

Take notes, mentally at least and realize that for the most part ONE person cannot ever give you what you think you need. If you study only with Mamady Keita (for only an example), you are missing a lot. Or with me or any body who sets themselves up as the gatekeeper of technique or rhythm, history or forms. If you study with any great drummer, you will miss a lot. And when you find out, you can't make up that time. So, keep your eyes and ears open! Nothing is exactly as it is said or appears. Nothing. Because we are not 'God' and the teachers are not 'Gods'. Time and history are our teachers as is djembe spirit.

Onward and upward,
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By michi
I've always encouraged my students to have more than one teacher. Every teacher has something different to give and, without being exposed to several teachers, it's easy to make the mistake of thinking that rhythm X exists in only one form when, in reality, there are many different versions of most rhythms. Getting exposed to that diversity is important to gaining a deeper understanding of the larger patterns in this music.

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