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that's my question. In all the transcriptions mentioning echauffement, I can't figure out what it is for. I understand it is the french word for warm up, but what is the context of this word? does the echauffement get played by all in the ensemble when given a cue? and how is it different from the call/appellant?
Very confused about this.
"Echauffement" literally means "heating up".

The echauffement is often used when the lead djembe player wants to increase the tempo of the rhythm. The lead starts playing the echauffement, pushing the tempo as he/she goes, and the ensemble follows. Once the rhythm is at the desired speed, the soloist stops the echauffement and goes to the next solo phrase.

An echauffement is also often used to end a rhythm. Typically, the soloist plays 16 bars of echauffement and a call to end the rhythm. (See the sound clip I posted in response to your other question.)

I highly recommend that you have a look at Mamady's teaching DVDs--they will answer many of your questions and are an excellent learning aid. Of course, there is no substitute for a real teacher so, if at all possible, find yourself one and start taking lessons.


hi paul, you are right, echauffement means 'heating' in french. when mande percussion music is played, there is often a phase of heating up the rhythm, to achieve a faster tempo. it's often done before calling a rhythm out, giving it that uptempo finish. however, an echauffement can be done without a call. it's a phrase traditionally played to give more energy to the dance, but can be initiated by the musicians when they feel like playing faster.

although the echauffement is initiated by the djembe for most rhythms, with the sangban and/or dununba responding, the reverse happens in the dununba rhythms (here the sangban initiates and the dununba and djembe follow). in bambara an echauffement is known as golobali.

there are various phrases used for heating the rhythm up, depending on what rhythm is being played, the regional or stylistic preference of the soloist, and sometimes the phase of the rhythm being played (especially in malian djembe music).

a call, on the other hand (tigeli in bambara) is a phrase invented by the ballets to start and end the rhythm on a specific beat, to tell dancers in ballet style performance when to change dance steps, or to finish a dancer's solo during street style celebrations or other more 'freestyle' dances. some soloists even use it in between solo phrases, although it's most often done as a teaching tool (e.g. abdoul doumbia's anke dje, anke be or famoudou konate's rhythms and songs from guinea). calls can also vary with rhythm, regional and stylistic preferences, and the phase of the rhythm.

a call is different from a 'break'. i mention this because i've heard many people use the terms 'call' and 'break' interchangeably, although they are not the same thing. a break is a composed passage which is often used as an intro, exit or transition. breaks can get quite technical and while they are generally longer than a call, they can vary quite a bit in length. some of the most elaborate breaks can go several minutes and have corresponding dance steps (e.g. some of those for zaouli). breaks are another innovation of the ballets.