djembe zoom

Discuss traditional rhythms, singing etc
By bubudi
#4266
anyone come across some strong female djembefolas?

i've heard about a woman called rokia daba fall who lives in the island of goree in senegal, where she is accepted as a djembefola.

there's also these women. not sure of their names, but the group is les amazones de guinee. here's some footage:

[edit: some of the names in les amazones de guinee include: mama kouyate, mama adama soumah, mariama baillo diallo, fatoumata kouyate (balafon), djessona diabate, damaye soumah. instruments include: djembe, sangban, ballet dunun, krin, wassakumbe, diabara, vocals]


View it on Youtube

View it on Youtube

View it on Youtube
[video]vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=9492827[/video]
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By Jessie
#4507
Being a woman djembe player myself I wish I could say different, but truthfully I have never seen an African woman play djembe in a real way. And I'll try to explain what I mean by that. When I was in Guinea in 2001 with Koumbana, we were brought to the amazon's rehersal which was really awesome to see for me then. Their solos were cool and impressive but seemed slightly contrived in a way because it seemed to me that although some of them were good, they seemed to be doing it to put on a show where the gimick so to speak was that they played djembe. It did not seem that they were djembefolettes to begin with and then the amazons were made. They were dancers made into djembefolettes.

My other little experiences in guinea with woman drummers was that I did see one flyer of a woman djembe player soloist, but I wasn't able to attend. And I had a woman come to a performance we were putting on in Guinea tell me she came to watch our show because she heard that there was a female djembe player. Now back then I could only play accompanyment and probably not that well, but her saying that to me made me think that female djembe players were few and far between back then.

Monette who is married to Mamady Keita was the best woman djembe player I have seen having proper phrasing and technique.

Maybe my next trip to Guinea I will do a little research and try to find one.
By bubudi
#4510
i agree that in the early days les amazones were big on the gimmicks and a bit short on the technique and phrasing. that was 1998/9. after more than 10 years i'm sure their level of playing would have improved a lot.
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By e2c
#4512
Les Amazones played at the annual Philadelphia Drum and Dance conference two years ago, and AFAIK, impressed a lot of seasoned drummers with their playing. (I wasn't there; wish I had been, though!)

Question for bubudi: did you make up "djembefolettes"? ;) Seriously, "ette" is a diminutive suffix in French, so I have to wonder if maybe there's another word for us adult women who play djembe and duns?
By bubudi
#4513
well, with guinea and mali being francophone and all... there are a fair few native west africans with french sounding names and probably just as many with french nicknames. you may have also noticed that jessica was talking in her intro thread about a rhythm called chasse, which means 'hunting' in french. that's obviously not the original name of the rhythm, but that's what a lot of ivorians call it. french is still very pervasive in the region. if you want to keep it pure, in malinke and bamana a woman djembefola would be distinguished by adding the word mousso (woman) . but djembefolette is way cooler 8)
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By Jessie
#4515
For the record, I really like the name djembefolette. :)

And please don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to put down the Amazons. Les Amazons are really capable and good at what they do. I just feel they were trained as adults. And yes after 10 years with training like they are getting, they kick some serious butt.

But, thinking about this concept though of the djembefolette, I am just wondering about the possibility of a girl in West Africa who really grew up as a djembe player. A girl who seriously breaks cultural boundries and who got trained like her brothers for instance as a child. Though I never got one ounce of wierd vibes about being a girl drummer while in Africa, I could see it being monumental due to cultural restrictions if a girl in Guinea for instance tried to become a drummer as a child and follow the path that usually is only open to boys and men.

In general I think its a tough, up hill path to be a woman drummer too and to be able to play with the guys head to head. Building up strength and stamina is a part of any drummers path, possible with commitment and practice but I think its a slightly more up hill battle for woman. And to have the physical limitations and the cultural limitations in your face in West Africa it would make me think that the type of djembefolette that I am trying to talk about would be few and far between. But possible. Its worth asking around some African friends if they have any stories.
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By e2c
#4517
Well, you're a toubab - of course nobody would object to some "crazy american" playing... ;) (Will be true for me when/if I ever get there.) But I agree completely with your comments re. local women... and that might change over time, as it has in the US, Canada and Europe. (Things are still very much in the process of changing here, though.)

The most resistance I've met over the years (been studying non-Western percussion of various kinds since the late 80s) has been from some American men - mostly older (i.e., 50 and over), mostly either jazz musicians and/or older guys from the drum and dance scene who believe that drumming is not for women. Younger musicians have generally been pretty welcoming and have treated me as a colleague. This is also true for people from various Middle Eastern and North African countries - even when women "back home" don't play. (Which is usually the case - but that's changing, too. I've found YouTube vids posted by *very* capable women musicians from Iran, for example - that's a real thrill for me personally.)

I have also noticed that young women and teenagers from other backgrounds - Indian, Caribbean, etc. - show a lot of interest in learning to play tabla and other instruments that have been a "guys only" thing in the past.

Change comes slowly. As for what you're saying about the physical side, I think that's much more about stamina than it is about upper body strength. (At least, for me it is, although i don't play strapped up, due to some neck/shoulder injuries.) Drumset playing is - IMO - much more demanding in terms of overall strength, although I should qualify this by saying that I don't play set... I'd be interested in hearing more from people who do (and who also play djembe/duns) to get an informed take on this.
And please don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to put down the Amazons. Les Amazons are really capable and good at what they do. I just feel they were trained as adults. And yes after 10 years with training like they are getting, they kick some serious butt.
Gotcha - and as far as being trained as adults, I'd never assumed otherwise. But that doesn't necessarily have to mean that a person is going to be chronically behind on the learning curve, either. (I didn't start playing percussion until I was in my early 30s... ;))
Last edited by e2c on Mon May 25, 2009 1:53 am, edited 4 times in total.
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By e2c
#4518
bubudi wrote:well, with guinea and mali being francophone and all... there are a fair few native west africans with french sounding names and probably just as many with french nicknames. you may have also noticed that jessica was talking in her intro thread about a rhythm called chasse, which means 'hunting' in french. that's obviously not the original name of the rhythm, but that's what a lot of ivorians call it. french is still very pervasive in the region. if you want to keep it pure, in malinke and bamana a woman djembefola would be distinguished by adding the word mousso (woman) . but djembefolette is way cooler 8)
ah, I knew all this stuff... just sayin'! I'm not as young as some of you, which is why "ette" probably isn't that accurate for/of me personally. ;)
By bubudi
#4521
c'mon you're only as old as you feel. when you look at an old master playing djembe, it feels they are only in their early twenties.
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By e2c
#4523
Yes and no on that! The mind may never age, but there's wear and tear on the body over time... we only get one set of everything, remember. (I'm not joking; certain kinds of injuries generally don't start showing up until after age 30 - repetitive stress injuries in the hands and wrists, for example.)

Sometimes the body has an uncomfortable way of reminding me that I'm not 20 anymore. ;)
By bubudi
#4524
point taken, but i say that with an aging body you could still be a djembefolette :lol:
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By e2c
#4525
Why, thank you! I'll just take the compliment and be happy with it. :D
By bubudi
#4526
:rofl:

hey, we all have aging bodies. we age from the moment we are born. it's the spirit that keeps us young and happy. speaking of spirit, this djembefolette really livens up the show with her group, sokan. all the other members are burkinabe griots, and i think the fact they feature her djembe playing definitely accounts for something!

[video]vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=7612590[/video]

[video]vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=22280652[/video]
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By Jessie
#4529
thanks for putting those up. She kills it. And I would definately consider her a djembefolette.
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By e2c
#4530
* EDIT: My mistake here!

At 1st glance, that looks like Lillian Friedberg of Chicago Djembe Project. (She's the videographer for the 1st Amazones vid you posted, bubudi.) she studied with Famoudou and others in Europe for many years. Link to her site: http://www.chidjembe.com/

* My bad: I posted before watching all of that 1st clip... ah well.
Last edited by e2c on Mon May 25, 2009 8:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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