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.
I’ll be performing with the Americas Latin Orchestra (ALO) at Pittsburgh CAPA Creative and Performing Arts High School, as part of the First Night Celebration. I’m the conguero with this Latin jazz big band, which performs the music in the style of Ray Barretto and Poncho Sanchez. The group will perform three 45 minute sets between 7 and 11 p.m.
Last year’s performances drew over a thousand people.
I will be performing this Friday as part of “Fresh Baked Goods,” CMU’s Master of Fine Arts Exhibition, on April 1 at Bakery Square near Penn Circle in Pittsburgh.
I’m part of a percussion quartet, where the musicians play from video game music notation generated by four gamers playing a war-themed game.
The instillation was created by CMU student Riley Harmon.
Here are some response we received at the first showing this past Sat., March 26.
“They’re best in show” “This piece made me actually feel something,
it actually gave me an experience.” “Intense” “Aced” etc …
I play percussion with this band from Cumberland, MD. The Queen City Funk and Soul Band is an eleven-piece ensemble that plays a mix of soul music and funk from the 60s to today. See: http://www.myspace.com/queencityfunkandsoul