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PROGRAM & TRADITIONS
Classes/Workshops/Demonstrations in Hand Drumming Techniques/Drumming Circles.
(West African Jembe)
Tree Cutting Ceremony
The Jembe is one of the most popular hand percussion instruments today. It is said to have originated among the Bamana people of Mali, West Africa, and originally referred to as JeJe Bara: Unity Drum. The Jembe is several centuries old and has its origins in the Mandingue country, a historic region which saw the birth of many kings, heroes and warriors whom the Jeles still praise as though they were still alive. The Mandingue Country covers parts of Mali, Senegal, Guinea, the Upper Volta and the Ivory Coast.
The Jembe first made an impact outside West Africa in the 1950s due to the world tours of Les Ballets Africains led by the Guinean Fodeba Keita. In the United States interest in the Jembe centered around Ladji Camara, a member of Les Ballets Africains in the 1950s, who since the 1960s has trained a generation of United States players. The Jembe is created from the trunk of a tree (a longai, a sir, or a ngoni) that has been cut down at least a year previous to use. The cutting down and carving of the tree is performed during a ritualistic ceremony. This ceremony takes place because the drum makers must appease the tree spirits – the life within the tree. Specifications: 4 types of wood are used for the making of the large, small, and medium Jembes: the lingué (afzelia africana), the dugura (cordyla pinnata), the guéni (pterocarpus erinaceus), or the djala (acajou). They are all assembled with a top quality skin and prestretched ropes. The skin is prepared in the similar manner. A ceremony and appeasement of the animal spirits. Antelope skin is the most desirable but goat skin is used most often. Nylon string in the United States has replaced the cow gut used in Africa.
WHAT IS "DRUM HARMONICS"
Drum Harmonics is a 13-week Class/Workshop, offered three times annually to interested participants. Drumming begins with the basics and progresses at the participants own natural pace. Gradually, as listening skills improve and the sense of natural rhythm develops, exercises become more complex. The instructional design is to teach simple percussive patterns that will guide participants through the building phases of playing and performing hand drum rhythms corresponding to professional player's repertoire. Sessions are 90 minutes, instruments not provided.