Discuss traditional rhythms, singing etc
By VagabonTribe
The fact that women haven't been playing or haven't developed the same skills as their male counterparts was previously blamed on men, they were shutting them out (I'm not gonna look through the string). So what if they were. We talk about cultural respect, as long as it fits into our scheme of the world. As soon as it doesn't we blame people for this and that. The women in West Africa have accepted the results of their choices and if they choose to act differently now that is their choice and they are free to do that. But we don't need to tear down men in the process saying that they have somehow been victimizing the women and not allowing them to play. None of us knows with any type of certainty whether or not any women were asking to play back in the day. Every drummer I'ver ever met, old or young, views the djembe as just a drum that anyone can play. I've never seen anyone actually object to foreigners or women playing. So why does everyone just assume they were different before?

Interesting discussion but don't throw some type of victimized or romanticized view of different cultures into the mix.
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By e2c
Wow, Rusty.

With all due respect, I don't buy what you're selling here. Your assumptions seem (to me) every bit as prejudiced as you say ours are.

I'd like to understand exactly what you're trying to say: is it that women should not play djembe (for one)?

Is it that women are supposedly stealing men's roles in W. African music, either in W. Africa, elsewhere, or both?

or is this about something else (i.e., not music and not djembe/duns and not W. Africa) entirely?
(I'm not gonna look through the string)
Again, with all due respect, if you don't intend to read this thread, it'll be hard to get into a convo/dialogue... I guess that's OK if all you [plural "you"] want to do is rant, but this is a pretty friendly place, on the whole, and I'd rather try talking with you (and others) than telling you off. :) But that choice is strictly up to you.


edited to add:
But we don't need to tear down men in the process ...
Where do you see that happening in this thread, or on this board? Enquiring minds (and all that)... ;)
Every drummer I'ver ever met, old or young, views the djembe as just a drum that anyone can play.
Every drummer = drummers in/from W., Africa? or drummers here in the US?

I think you'll find that there really are deep-rooted prejudices among many people in the US about women playing African and/or Afro-Cuban percussion, but things have admittedly changed a lot re. djembe since the late 1980s. Afro-Cuban drums, not so much.
You are a bastion of propaganda and misinformation. I don''t believe you have actually spent serious time there and if you did it was only to justify something you had already read in a book. these viewpoints are destructive - not helpful. you want to further a gender conflict that doesn't need to exist
??????? This seems uncalled-for, really.
Most of you don't have the balls (or labia as it would be) to allow men to be men and stop trying to tear them down, or artificially prop women up. Get over yourselves.
sorry, this is just plain disrespectful and rude... Easy does it! As is, you're actually (to my way of thinking) tearing people down right here, without bothering to take time to actually discuss issues with them. that's not a good idea, I think. (but again, the choice is yours. I think it's possible to discuss this stuff without resorting to flaming, but that's just me.)

fwiw, I don't need anyone to "artifically prop" me up, either when I'm playing music or when I'm not. So maybe... your notions about this are a bit off? ;)
Last edited by e2c on Sat Jan 02, 2010 11:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
By VagabonTribe
Yes, I love to rant.

When I see words like "amazing" to describe a completely average or sub-standard musician I wonder what the motivation is behind the statement.

You are correct, I mistakenly took a statement about older, American musicians as being attributed to Africans. My apologies.

And you are also correct, I do see much of this as being associated to larger issues in the world, a created conflict between genders that doesn't need to exist. Why do we even have to talk about a person's gender. I never see people say - "he is an amazing male drummer". let it go.

I have never once said that women shouldn't play djembe. Most of my students over the years have been women.

What is wrong with the djembe being reserved only for men?
Why do people feel the need to contribute to a change?

(A perfect example of this is girls being allowed to play football in schools in the US but boys not being allowed to play volleyball. We are creating views of the world that are contrived and will lead to self-created conflict)

American culture embraces change and people are imposing their own cultural values on the people of West Africa. Some see it as a good thing that western women "inspired" african women to take up the djembe. To what end? and who are any of us to judge the cultural effects of those actions? Just because it is what someone on this side of the pond may value doesn't mean it is inherently good or should be pursued. There may have been very good reasons why, for centuries, roles were divided in African society. In fact , the reasons may even trump our own values for perceived equality.

And yes, I apologize if anyone was offended. But I like to use inflammatory statements sometimes. Creates for good conversation.
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By rachelnguyen
What is wrong with the djembe being reserved only for men?
Why do people feel the need to contribute to a change?
Who is doing the reserving? And where? It seems to me that in the US, since the tradition isn't ours to begin with, it doesn't make sense to reserve the drum for any particular group.

And just as an aside, we have pretty good conversation around here without having to drop firebombs to spark it. Pull up a chair, make a cup of Nescafe and Nido and tell us more about your experiences in West Africa. I'd be interested. (Although I might suggest we start another thread for it, as this one is about women drummers, LOL.)
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By rachelnguyen
And yeah, by the way, I agree that we in the US are incredibly culturally arrogant. And really, worse than that, tunnel visioned. I came face to face with that fact myself when I was in Mali. It was almost impossible to experience what I was experiencing without trying to somehow compare it to my life in the US. Perhaps that is human nature, to always be trying to understand the world through your own frame of reference... but I have come to realize that it inhibits me from ever really experiencing or understanding another's culture.

I am actually a little embarrassed by how hard I tried to interpret what I was experiencing while I was in Mali. It is only in the last few weeks that I finally came to understand that trying to 'interpret' the experience is, in a way, trying to make it into something I could grasp.

Maybe the truth is that I am not going to grasp it.
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By e2c
Perhaps that is human nature, to always be trying to understand the world through your own frame of reference... but I have come to realize that it inhibits me from ever really experiencing or understanding another's culture.
I think you've hit the nail on the head, rachel. It's hard work to try and see from anyone else's perspective, be it the person standing right next to you or that of someone who lives 10,000 miles away. And if we try to go beyond what we "know," we're taking risks - and are bound to make mistakes (mostly unintentional, though I think Americans - and maybe Westerners in general - tend to make a lot of intentional mistakes as well).

But I think it's all very much worth the effort - at least, this has been true in my own life to date, and that makes me want to continue to put effort into it, even when I know there will be bumpy, difficult places. (And that some of those places will likely be of my own making.)

as for being able to grasp or fully understand, I doubt any of us will ever "get it" all, at least, not in this lifetime. There's a famous quote about seeing "through a glass darkly" that comes to mind... :)
By bubudi
rusty, all i did was ask you to explain your point, which you still haven't really done.

your posts in this thread have been flagged (not by me) as they have been of concern to others.

no matter how much you think you know from your travels and studies, there's a lot more that you can learn from others here. just as i feel i have a lot i can learn from you and others on this site. not all the knowledge we have is absolute. i find i have to reconsider things all the time. so i'll adjust my views according to the facts i'm given, but not just because you say so.

i could definitely back up a lot of the statements that i made. i just posted up a video where mamady keita talks about moribayassa. infertility was traditionally blamed on women and people didn't know that men could be infertile. there's a lot of things that traditional beliefs don't include. no society is perfect or fair. but we must adapt, accept new information and technologies, indeed that's what societies do, globally.

most djembe masters say that the djembe has no borders, either gender, race, age or other. again and again, i've heard the masters say that the women began the songs, the handclapping, etc. some masters say that women were the first drummers, and later the men took on this role (i'm not sure why that development came about). i've heard some griots say the same thing. djembe is about unity. anke dje, anke be. i hope you will come from this angle in your future posts. like it or not, when you post here you are representing yourself, your business and your band. make it positive.
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By michi
When I saw Rusty's first post announcing himself, I thought 'Right, that's the guy who wrote "Rhythm Masters, Melody Makers. Great to have him posting on this board.'

Then I saw Rusty's first post and thought "Oh, oh--that's not a promising start. This will back-fire for sure". Since then, I've been watching this entire exchange from the sidelines.

My overwhelming feeling: sadness. Here we have someone who could potentially contribute a huge amount of knowledge and information to this board, and I helplessly watch the entire thing degenerate into a slinging match. Sad. Truly sad. A lose-lose situation.

My only suggestion at this point: everyone, forget what has happened up to this point. Pretend nothing happened. Rusty: continue posting. Everyone else: answer as if it were any other post on this board. Maybe, just maybe, we might be able to avoid losing someone who could, no doubt, contribute a whole of interesting stuff here.

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By the kid
I don't think its sad really. I can think of many other things in the world that are sad.
And its not a lose-lose situation. We'll have a positive outcome.
I think the women will sort out this one through good old fashioned diplomacy.

On the one hand i'm a relative begineer at djembe (5 years or so) so many of these women in the videos are better than i am so its kinda a funny exchange goin on. Should women be playing etcetc. :lol:
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By the kid
A further thought. Be Humble and admit where one makes a mistake. For some this is hard. Especially in this case. Its easier to say 'i like being provocative' as we've seen above. In my experience everyone can crash and burn sometimes. I have and so have many others.(catch 22 anyone, it can be good to crash and save your bacon :lol: ).
Anyways i think Its good to fix the matter and move on. Its a new year after all.
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By michi
If you stand in front of someone with a plate of brownies that has never seen it before and they spend the rest of their life trying to get more - have you done a good thing?
This really struck a chord with me. During my first trip to Africa, I came up close and personal to real poverty for the first time in my life. It made me think deeply about my wealth, whether that wealth is deserved, what ethical obligations I have to help and change the lot of people who are poor, and it raised many other questions. I realized that, when I was walking through the streets, what I routinely wore on my body (clothes, wrist watch, mobile phone, camera, iPod, etc.) was worth more than several average annual incomes. In other words, I was a bank vault on legs. Little wonder that I had my share of problems with Africans who were trying to extract more than the normal fair price for something I wanted to buy, or who otherwise tried various con-jobs to relieve me of some of my wealth.

In many people, I also noticed envy, anger, sadness, or hopelessness at this inequality in wealth and opportunity. Flouting my wealth probably doesn't do a lot of good to people who have no chance of ever achieving even a small fraction of that wealth, no matter how hard they try.

On the other hand, the episode related in SuperFreakonomics about the Indian women whose life improved as a result of watching television seems to imply the opposite: showing someone the plate of brownies can indeed help them.

Societal change is slow and painful. Something as fundamental as improving women's rights is particularly slow and painful. In the west, the process started something like a hundred years ago and is still not finished, and rights that women have won since then have been acquired with a lot of pain, grief, and personal sacrifice. I have no doubt that this process will just as slow and painful in Africa as in the west.

Last edited by michi on Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:25 am, edited 2 times in total.
By VagabonTribe
Near Selengue, at the southern edge of the reservoir and some distance walk, is a village called Soumah. There are a group of women there who play number of drums that are typical of women musicians in the area (fileh, yabara, karignan, gangan). There are also 4 women who play dunun and djembe. Three of them are decent musicians, and one is an excellent solist, Ami Diakite. She apparently spent time in Guinea playing with people in the Siguiri region. I was only there for a short period and just saw her play briefly. Besides the drumming they were excellent singers and could harmonize, all 4 of them, while playing. As authentic as it gets. She has babies and a husband so she won't be going anywhere soon. Check her out if you're in the area.
Last edited by VagabonTribe on Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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By michi
VagabonTribe wrote:There are a group of women there who play number of drums that are typical of women musicians in the area (fileh, yabara, karignan, gangan). There are also 4 women who play dunun and djembe.
In Bamako, I've seen Matche Traore teach djembe to Fata (Jeremy Chevrier's niece) when she showed an interest. So far, none of my African teachers (whether in Africa or anywhere else) has ever expressed anything that would indicate that women playing djembe would somehow be inappropriate. And Mamady keeps reiterating that the djembe knows no bounds.

And I personally know a number of women who can drum the pants off me...

Hmmm... maybe I should rephrase that last sentence as "I personally know a number of women who play much better than me." :)

But we could add that sentence to the thread "Things djembe players should not say in public" ;)


By VagabonTribe
Since it keeps coming up, has anyone ever seen me write that women should not play,or that I don't think women should play, or anything to that manner whatsoever?

When you (anyone) talk about teaching, are you talking about showing the basics of the instrument or true teaching of the real djembe? Most teachers I've dealt with, while cordial and welcoming, were not truly interested in teaching anyone the true secrets of the djembe. Learning the basics of the instrument and phrasing, is drastically different than truly learning the real djembe: how to truly achieve multiple sounds, specific phrasing techniques at various tempos, the real phrases for different variations. Most of what any of us get is a watered down version for the masses.
By VagabonTribe
hmm....my statements about teaching and asking for confirmation of what was previously discussed is off topic. But your cat pics and other posts are on topic?
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