- Fri May 09, 2014 9:59 am
There is indeed a Wasulun "style", but it's not a question of orchestration.
In addition to the singers, some rhythms like Didadi and Jagwewara are played with two djembes, a kenkeni and a didadidunun (also called bari), others like Sogoninkun or Sigi are played with two djembes and a dunun, Sofile (pronounced Sofle) with 2 djembes, one dunun and a flute.
N'grinba, the typical and famous Wasulun rhythm (Wasulunka), was played originally with only two djembes (which explains the name Jenbe ni Je - that could be translated as "clear djembe").
(the accompanying djembe changes according to what the soloist plays; I heard once Sega play it that way: it's beautiful, but both djembefola must know what they're doing! hard to teach and even more to learn...)
Then the dunun was added, and it only played the four beats. The dunun part that everyone knows (ti-tin . ta . ti-tin . ta . ta .) that can be heard in the djembe phrase is a more recent addition.
What defines Wasulun style is two things: language and History.
All the regional variations in the instruments, tunings, phrases, that can be observed have one explanation: they reproduce the tones of the spoken language. Khassonka dunun are built, tuned and used in a way that matches the Khassonka language (which is a mix of bamanan, soninke,...).
Malinke language sounds different than Bamanan, that's why there's usually more slaps in the malinke phrases than in the bamanan phrases which use more tones.
Wasulun is at a crossroad between the Malinke area to the west and the Bamanan area to the north. Moreover, it has been populated (conquered) by Fulani people who settled down, adopting a sedentary way of life and many local pre-existing traditions (language, music instruments,...) for several centuries.
But they also kept specific Fulani cultural elements.
If You listen to Fula don, You will hear where N'Grinba comes from.
Sega often says that djembe playing must not be heavy. In Wasulun, they consider that the drums must sound like string instruments. Listen to the Donso Ngoni, and to its modern development, the Kamalen Ngoni, You will hear many double notes (flams) that You will also find in the djembe.
Another aspect of the Fulani spirit is the "tricky" way of playing: there are many intermediate sounds, very subtle variations, special fingering, which make it really hard to figure out what has just been played and how it was done, on purpose.
So, there are rolls in the Wasulun djembe, even in the accompaniment.
ta . . ta-ta . ti-ti-ta . . ta-ta . ti-ti-ta ... is played
ta . . ta-ta . tikidita . . ta-ta . tikidita ...
So, although the rhythms played in this recording are not from Wasulun except for the third part of Woloso (Sega recorded another album dedicated to Wasulun rhythms), they are played in his style.
What does that mean?
Sega often compares the rhythm to a person. As a student, You first must be able to present this person, i.e., You must know the traditional phrases, which will make the rhythm identifiable, support the songs, mark the dance steps.
Then You will learn to dress that person by adding variations, shiftings, rolls, "amusement".
Of course, these clothes are not meant to hide the person, they're here to embellish its presence.
And then, if You're able to provide a pair of shoes and a hat, that will be marvellous!
So that's how I would describe Sega Sidibe's playing: a profound and demanding respect for the tradition and its meaning, beautifully dressed from head to toe.