I will be teaching a West African drumming class at Brighton Music Center on Wednesday nights beginning July 11 to August 22 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. The class will be for beginner to intermediate level drummers.
Over the course of six classes we’ll learn the basics of hand drumming and play djembe drumming pieces from Mali and Guinea in West Africa. Participants will have the opportunity to learn the djembe and dun dun and rhythms associated with each piece. We’ll also learn songs that go with the drumming, as well as musical arrangements for the ensemble. There will also be an opportunity to learn drum solos that go with each piece.
Classes will take place in July 11, 18, 25 and August 8, 15, 22 – there’s no class on August 4.
You can pay for the course in two different packages: all six classes for $75 or three classes for $50. If you’d prefer to drop for a single class the cost will be $20.
I’ve composed a few djembe breaks and collaborated with other drummers to create them; however, most of the ones that I incorporate are ones that I’ve learned from my teachers.
They are traditional in the sense that they have been passed down by drummers that come from core djembe areas in Mali and Guinea in West Africa. Some of these breaks have become well known because they were created within the national folkloric ensembles such as Percussions de Guinee and Ballets Africaines and were widely disseminated via the recordings and videos of their performances.
Many working drummers in Mali and Guinea have their own groups. They often create their own short breaks that they use in the context of the ceremonies and festivals where they play.
All that said, in most of the drumming I’ve experienced at drumming activities in Guinea and Mali, these things aren’t played at all. Drummers are more involved with the success of ceremony and playing the rhythms to accompany the dancing and singing that’s taking place. Also, the drum ensemble may consist of various drummers that were “rounded up” for a particular and don’t usually play together, therefore they may not be familiar with each other’s “breaks.”
Drum enthusiasts call this style of playing: “traditional” drumming. And the type of drumming found in organized drum and dance ensembles where the emphasis is on creating an exciting performance is called “ballet style” drumming.
If anyone has any questions about drumming from any culture, I’d be glad to do my best to answer it, or point the way to more information on the subject.
Gordon Nunn40.448845 -79.951569
With Labor Day less than a week away it looks like summer’s coming to an end. I thought it’d be a good time to update those that follow my blog regarding upcoming offerings from Denbaya Drumming.
The space in the East end didn’t workout, so I’ve reserved a semi-spacious rehearsal space on the Southside off the main drag at the Storexpress on Mary St. between 21st and 22nd streets.
I plan to offer a set of Monday evening drumming classes, which will start in a few weeks. Whether or not the class will makes will be based on enrollment.
I will also be teaching private lessons in the following areas: drum set, conga drumming, beginning tabla and concert percussion.
I’m looking for a talented graphic artist to help create some flyers that some how define what I do. If anyone has any suggestions, please send a comment.
Finally, I recently co-composed and recorded “Concentric,” a piece that features marimba and percussion. It was used in a dance performance by H2O entitled The Phoenix. I’d like to put it on the blog for folks to hear. So keep your eyes and ears open for some new things in the coming weeks from Denbaya Drumming.
On Thursday, January 27, we held our first evening of open drumming as part of six week drumming class. It was held in between class three and four of the six-week session, currently being held at Greenfield Presbyterian Church.
I’m able to give a great report on the evening’s activities. In addition to the three participants currently enrolled in the class, six hand drummers attend the session.
From all reports everyone had a great time!
Two of the participants returned the following week to join in for the last three session of the class.
What is open drumming? What should participants expect? What is it not?
Open drumming is a term that I use to describe a collective drumming activity where participants are free to play what ever they like, so long as it adheres in some way to a central pulse. That pulse can be expressed as a single recurring beat, much like a heartbeat, or as a more complex rhythmic pattern.
One of the beauties of open drumming is that the pulse can change in response to the collective energy created by the drummers that are present.
As the facilitator, I’ll do my best to guide the music, and at the same time be sensitive to the energy of the drummers, because in this kind of context, it’s only natural that the rhythms and tempo change of the course of the event. My goal will be to provide some sense of continuity within the overall musical space.
It will also be responsibility to foster a safe environment, where participants can feel comfortable. It’s not a venue for drummers to come and show off their amazing speed or to play louder than anyone else. Collective drumming should be a medium for musical interaction and mutual respect.