DKUMGAHU

The Rhythms of West African Drumming

David Locke

White Cliffs Media Company Crown Point, IIV

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CONTENTS
Copyright © 1987 White Cliffs Media Company Illustrations copyright © 1987 Steven Leicach Cover: Godwin Agbeli. master drummer, photograph © J. Robert May List of Figures Acknowledgments Chapter One- Introduction Overview / The Study of African Music / System of Notation Musical Instruments and Playing Technique / How To Use This Book Chapter Two - The Time Tempo / The Gankogui Part / The Axatse Part / The Kaganu Part / Meter / Conclusion 16 iv

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without express permission in writing from the Publisher. White Cliffs Media Company r.o. Box 561 Crown Point, IN 46307 Distributed to the book trade by The Talman Company 150 Fifth A venue New York, NY 10011 (212) 620-3182 Library of Congress Catalog Number: 87 -50298

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Chapter Three- The Response 37 Drumming Technique / Musical Notation / The Basic Parts of Sago, Kidi and Kaganu / Improvisation on Response Drums / Conclusion Chapter Four- The Call 69 Drumming Technique and Drum Stroke Syllables / Musical Notation / The Process of Improvisation / Lead Drumming for "Basic" Dancing / Combining All Five Phrases / Lead Drum Signals To Dancers / Lead Drumming: The Kinka Section / The Ending / Conclusion Chapter Five- Conclusion 124 Review / Aesthetic Goals / The Process of Learning / The Value of African Music

Printed in the United States of America printing number 2345678910

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Locke, David. Drum gahu

Performance in world music series; no. 1) Bibliography: p. Includes index. 1. Oahu - Instruction and study, 2. Dance music - Africa. West Instruction and study. 3. Ewe(African people) - Music - Instruction and study. I. Title. II. Series. MT655.L61987 789'.01 87-50298 ISBN0-941677-03-6 ISBN0-941677-02-8 (pbk.) ISBN0-941677-04-4 (spl.)

Guide to Pronunciation Notes References Index

132 133 134 136

LIST OF FIGURES

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 2.1 3.1 3.2 3.3 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5

The drum ensemble. Holding the drum stick. Holding and striking the gankogui. Holding and striking the atoke. Thigh and palm strokes on axatse. Playing position, wrist position and stick angle on kaganu. Bounce-stroke and press-stroke technique. Striking the drum. Playing position on sogo and kidi. Atsimevu. Playing position on gboba. Regions of the drum-skin. Lead drum strokes. Dampening.

I1 12 13 13 14 31 38 39 39 70 71 71 72 73

I have endeavored to portray the percussion ensemble music of Gahu as my teachers played it and as I have adapted the piece in my classes at Tufts University and with the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society. Forall those named and unnamed who have contributed to this book, Ithank you. Itake full responsibility for errors of omission, commission and distortion. I would like to thank my teachers of African music and dance in chronological order: Nicholas England, Alfred Ladzekpo,Abraham Adzinyah, Freeman Donkor, Asante Darkwa, Godwin Agbeli. Gideon Alorwoyle. Abubakari Wombie, Iddrissu Alhassan, Kwasi Adei. Abudulai Ceidu, Fuseni Alhassan, and Fusena Wombie. I would like to thank my teachers of ethnomusicology: David McAllester, Tsuge Gen'lchl. Mark Slobin, TedGrame and J.H. Kwabena Nketia. Iwould like to thank my colleagues at Tufts who reviewedthe manuscript and encouraged its completion: Jeff Tlton. T.J.Anderson and Mark DeVoto. I would like to thank members of the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society who reviewed the manuscript: Joe Galeota, KenSchachat and Ben Wittman. I would like to thank Joyce Mekeel and Larry Smith for their helpful comments. - David Locke Medford, MA, 1987

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CHAPTER!

INTRODUCTION

Overview
This book speaks to readers of a wide range of prior musical experience and expertise. It introduces concepts and rhythms which span the gamut from the simple to the complex, from the easily played to the technically demanding. Drum Oahu is an analytic and systematic teaching manual which presents a version of the percussion ensemble music for Oahu, a type of traditional music and dance of the Ewe speaking people of West Africa. The musical material is contained within the middle three chapters: chapter II, THE TIME, lays the rhythmic foundation of the piece; chapter III, THE RESPONSE, presents Oahu's polyrhythmic texture; and chapter IV, THE CALL, discusses the lead drum part. Chapter 1, the INTRODUCTION, provides preliminary background information and chapter V, the CONCWSION, reviews and sums up the entire project. The book is coordinated with an audio tape which contains vocalized and drummed versions of the notated musical examples. Autobiographical Sketch

I have adopted an informal, personal tone of voice in this book; I've tried to create a teacher-student relationship between me, the author, and you, the reader, so it is appropriate to begin with an autobiographical sketch. I am a teacher, performer and scholar of traditional African music and dance. How did I get interested in this field? It probably began in the late 1950s when my parents took me to a performance of Olatunji's "Drums of Passion" troupe in Boston: instinctively I loved the repetitive, enveloping aura of this music. As I grew older my listening tastes strongly favored the highly rhythmicized style of Black American music: blues, jazz and rock, especially Jimi Hendrix, were my favorites. In college at Wesleyan University in the late 1960s I explored the Music Department's extensive collection of World Music recordings and found myself drawn to traditional African music. Wesleyan's African Music Program had not yet started so on the advice of Professor David McAllester I commuted twice weekly to Columbia University to study Ewe drumming with Nicholas England and Alfred Ladzekpo, 1

I

2

Drum Gahu
The Genesis
Drum Oahu

Introduction

3

In my junior year Abraham Adzinyah, a great percussionist from Ghana began teaching in the World Music Program at Wesleyan. I studied drumming with him for four years-two as an undergraduate, two as a graduate student-and became a competent player on the repetitive parts for the re~ertory of the G~ana National Dance Ensemble where Mr. Adzinyah had ~ralned before coming to America. I learned from him the deep, beautiful feelIng that c~mes from playing this music well; Mr. Adzinyah taught me the love of drumming and changed my life. During my first year of graduate school I assisted Freeman Donkor. former lead dancer of the Ghana National Dance Ensemble and an excellent drummer. Together we taught African music and dance. a~Wo~drow Wilson High School in Middletown, Connecticut as part of a Plusictans In the Schools Project. In 1975 I went to Ghana. As a Research Affiliate at the Institute of African Studies (Universi~y of Ghan?) under the supervision of J.H. Nketia, I spent two. years c~lIectlng m.atenal for my doctoral dissertation, The Music of Atsragbekor. I also studied as much music and dance as possible. Soon after my arrival I met Godwin Agbeli of the Arts Council of Ghana Folkloric Company. Weworked and lived together for two full years: it was Mr. Agbeli who ~aught me le.addrumming and his playing style is my primary influence. DurIng my stay. In Ghana M.r.AgbeJi ~as the artistic director for many amateur and professional folkloric performing troupes in the Accra area and I was able to participate in rehea:sals and performances almost nightly. It was a perfect arrangement for learnmg performance; I would practice or transcribe during the day and then tryout the material with full percussion ensemble and dancers in the evening. I also worked closely with the renowned virtuoso musican and dancer Midawo Gideon Alorwoyie, master drummer with the Ghana National Dance Ensemble. Mr. Alorwoyie produced several performances in which I was the feat~red guest artist both in Accra, the capital of Ghana, and in the Volta ReglO~, the administrative district in which the Ewe homeland is located. ~speclally me~?rable was a command performance of Atsiagbekor, a difficult yet magnificent type of war music and dance, at the 1975 Hogbetsotso Festival in Anloga before thousands of people from all over southern Eweland. Several months after the festival I was crossing the border from Togo back to Ghana when the captain of the border guards ordered me into a b?ck room; I entered in a state of considerable trepidation but the man smiled broadly, shook my hand and "dashed" me a small Sum of money in appreciation for my performance at the festival! In 1985 I returned to Ghana, this time with a group from the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society. After listening to us run through our repertory Godwin AgbeJi pro~dly gave us his seal of approval telling the group, "Everything I taught David. he has taught to you. It is correct!" As this book goes to press, I continue to teach ethnomusicology, ethnochoreology, an~ African music and dance at Tufts, direct the Agbekor Drum and Dance SOCIety,and contribute to the dissemination of reliable informative and practical documentation and analysis of what, for me, remains one of the world's most exciting and satisfying art forms: traditional African music and dance.

of this Hook

is a direct result of my work as a teacher of African music and dance. From time to time advanced students are ready to learn the lead drum part. I usually begin with Gahu and Atsiagbekor. In the spring of 19851 was giving lessons on Gahu when my student came to his lesson unprepared saying that he had lost his lesson tape. Having already felt frustrated over having to repeat the same material to yet another student I decided then and there to prepare a comprehensive taped and written presentation of the percussion ensemble music of Gahu. In April I set to work and although the project proved much more extensive than I had envisioned by November a first draft was complete. I used the draft manuscript with classes at Tufts and with the Agbekor Society for a year and solicited comments from a wide variety of musicians. This revised version incorporates many helpful suggestions. The Gahu presented here is a synthesis of the playing styles of my teachers, especially Mr. Adzinyah and Mr. Agbeli, and reflects my years of exposure to innumerable performances of the piece by a great number of performing groups including professional dance companies, amateur and school troupes, and several different village groups. This has been a unique project for me. Until now I have centered my research on extensive transcription and analysis of field recordings by African musicians. This book, however. presents my own style as well. As I warmed to the task I said to myself, "You have been studying, teaching, researching and performing African music for over fifteen years, you have 'paid your dues' on transcriptions, you create within the style, the music is within you now. Why not share your knowledge and insight into this tradition, the source of beauty, power and truth to which you have devoted your life?" This book, then, is not a rigorously accurate report on how Africans play Gahu, but rather a creative interpretation of the piece based on extensive research and exposure to this piece and a wide selection of other pieces in the same idiom. It is African music synthesized by an American mind: AfricanAmerican music!

The Study of African Music
African music has been the object of a considerable quantity of practical and scholarly research. In my experience traditional African musicians themselves are the foremost researchers into this art: music specialists begin their study in childhood and spend their lives in avid pursuit of knowledge of their heritage. I think especially of Godwin Agbeli and Gideon Alorwoyie, men who have devoted their lives to the performing arts. Many are the stories of their arduous trips to remote villages to witness a rare performance or to interview a reclusive specialist in the meaning of drum language or archaic song text. Perhaps because the fruit of his labor is a moving, yet ephemeral performance rather than a book or degree from an educational institution, the traditional musician does not receive adequate credit and compensation

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Drum Gahu
Cultural Context

Introduction

5

for his artistic and intellectual search, but his self-sacrifice and rigor should not be overlooked. Performing musicians from throughout the world have studied the traditional music of Africa. Many are attracted by the exciting power of drum ensemble music, others are drawn to the more melodic solo instruments such as the kor~, mbira and balaphone, but all seem intrigued by African ~oncepts of musical rhythm and the manner in which the performing arts are Integrated into people's lives and the very fabric of society. ~fri~an an? non-African scholars have also addressed a wide variety of tOpICS Including: theory of African melody and rhythm; the mutual influences among the musics of Africa and the lands connected to it by circumstan~es of history and geography, especially the Americas, Europe and t~e 1~lamlc.world; the H;latIOnshlp between music and language; the music~an ~ns~clety; symbolic communication in performance; and the history, distribution and symbolism of musical instruments. Through the efforts of performers and scholars, Africans and non-Africans. the characteristic features of African music are well known.> Not only have the general features of A~rican n:~sic been well descri~ed, but many of Africa's outstanding musical tradltions have been the subject oflengthy scholarly investigatlons.> Ew~percussion ensemble i~ among the most intensely studied of all types of 0fncan .muslc. Several articles appeared in the early and mid-1950s by Afncan writers (such as Gadzekpo and Cudjoe) but it was A.M. Jones' book Studies in African Rhythm that really put Ewe drumming "on the map:' Since Jones' work was the prime source for Gunther Schuller's discussion of the African influence onjazz in his well known book Early Jazz, many jazz per~ormers, scholars ~nd ~nthusiasts became aware of Ewe drumming. Followmg Jones, the publicatlons of Hewitt Pantaleoni and John Chernoff have added to the growing literature on this subject. In the 1960s and 1970s several Ewe performers began teaching in the United States further increasing the popularity of the idiom. Clearly, this book enters a well ploughed field, not vrrgm tern tory: the musical organization of the Ewedrum ensemble has been accurately described, the history and socio-cultural context of a number of pieces have been presented, and several interesting hypotheses about the theo~ of Ewe r~ythm .and Ewe performance aesthetics have been suggested. ThIS book differs In content and presentation from previous works in several re~pects. ~irst. i.tsmajor f~cus is musical sound +players. composers and theonsts are Its pnmary audlence=- and it is performance oriented. The musica.1examples intentionally are prescriptive or illustrative of theory; they are designed to function like a score, guiding the instrumentalist toward ade~uate performance. Second, it is written from the perspective of a teacher of Instrumental performance. The book contains unprecedented detail about dru~~ing techniq.ue an~ offers a systematic method for generating stylistlcally appropnate varlatlons, a method based on ideas about rhythmic theory, the aesthetics of building a single musical line and the interaction of parts in the percussion ensemble, as well as practical observations about drumming technique. Last. but certainly not least, the text and musical ex~mples a~ecoordinated with an audio tape, thus mitigating the distortions inherent In musical notation and permitting direct aural learning.

Unlike most ethnomusicological writings, Drum Oahu approaches its subject as "absolute music;' that is, as music removed from the flux of ongoing African life, so it is particularly important to situate the piece in its historical and cultural setting. The following remarks briefly place Gahu in its African time and place and then address some philosophical issues involved in performing the piece outside its place of origin.' Performance in Ewesociety is a synthesis of several media, including vocal and instrumental music. dance, visual display through costume, and drama. For lack of a better term, I will use the word "piece" to refer to such multimedia events. Grand performances with large numbers of participants occur during religious worship, events of the life cycle, calendric festivals, and so forth. and the Ewe have a large repertory of pieces which are specifically associated with such occasions. Although these pieces all exhibit a distinguishable, characteristically Ewe style. by no means are they all the same in aesthetic content or social context. A ritual piece may be hundreds of years old, highly restricted as to who may participate, demand rigorous adherence to time-honored practices, refer to esoteric subjects in archaic language, and permit little leeway for personal expression. A recreational piece, on the other hand. may be quite contemporary, open to the general public, devoid of ritual sanctions, discuss topical concerns in vernacular speech, and encourage personalized improvisation. Each genre has its own fascinating history and socio-cultural setting and. of course, a highly articulated body of song, drumming and dance material. The limited scope of this book should be clear. It addresses itself to but one aspect of one piece: the percussion ensemble music of Gahu. According to Kobla Ladzekpo, a well known authority on Ewe traditional culture, Gahu was created by Yoruba speakers of Benin and Nigeria as a form of satirical commentary on modernization in Africa. 5 Performers poked fun at the pompous manners of Africans who had been to Europe or who turned their back on African tradition and affected European ways. Mr. Ladzekpo glosses the name Gahu as "airplane" ("ga" = iron, "hu' = vehicle). saying that the dance not only imitates the flight of the airplanes, but also that the airplane is treated as a symbol for modernism. Gideon Alorwoyie says that the name Gahu can be translated both as "money dance" and "airplane" adding that the dance was first brought to Ghana in the early 1950s by a man from the town of Anlo-Afiadenyigba and from there spread to nearby communltles.? Mr. Alorwoyie stresses that the piece became especially popular among young people because of the playfully erotic, fun-loving quality of its music and dance and the gorgeous style of its costuming. Let me discuss the traditional village setting of Gahu in a bit more detail. In southern Eweland friends and relatives of similar age from each neighborhood within a town form voluntary associations for the purpose of organizing recreational social events, undertaking communal labor projects, and so forth. These clubs are also performing groups. 7 Groups specialize in one piece at a time. First songs. drumming. dance, costuming and dramatic

6

Drum Gabu
The /Yature of the Music

Introduction

7

display are created, modified and rehearsed, a process lasting several months. Typically, popular old material is mixed with new material so that the group ends up with its own distinctive version of a traditional piece. Once a piece has been learned the group mounts periodic public performances of the piece; occasions for performance include important group meetings, life cycle rituals of members and their relatives, festivals, and visits by dignitaries. After approximately a year of such performances the group grows bored with the current piece and begins the entire process again. Gahu remains popular with this kind of homogeneous local association. In the late 1950s and early 1960s Oahu was introduced into the repertories of amateur and professional performance troupes which had been formed by visionary Africans such as Philip Gbeho to foster the continuity of traditional African culture amidst a rapidly modernizing society. In this' 'folkloric" context performers are introduced to repertory from other ethnic groups in classes. It is not unusual for musicians and dancers to become adept at performance without learning the "inside" meaning of song texts, drum rhythms and dance movements. Creative artistic directors often rearrange traditional material for theatrical presentation. Such developments mark an important juncture, for in this performanceoriented context Gahu becomes valued primarily for its purely aesthetic qualities and as a generalized symbol of traditional culture. Africans now treat Gahu as a "work," that is, as artifact removed from the historical, geographic and cultural context of its creators. From this philosophic perspective, Gahu can be regarded as an autonomous aesthetic force which is, to a certain degree, independent of the circumstances of its creation. 8 The meaning and significance of Gahu has become a function of the process of its reenactment, a process that can occur at any time, in any place, by any people: like an item in the European concert music repertory, for example, Gahu is validly available to all people-it is part of an emergent "universal" culture. But-I can almost hear my ethnomusicologist colleagues shoutingmusic is more than a phenomenon of sound; a complex, integrated array of deep-seated beliefs, values and attitudes inevitably are involved in performance. Thus from a cultural perspective, Gahu now finds itself in a qualitatively new situation. Individuals with no grounding in an Ewe way of life are performing Ewe music and, undoubtedly, the meaning of the music has changed. This book can help you learn to replicate Oahu's sound, but beyond encouraging a certain measure of humility and respect, I make no overt attempt to modify your underlying attitude and motivation. With regard to meaning, however, I like to believe that Gahu inevitably possesses African mind and soul: in the structure of its sound and in the process of bringing these sounds into being, I often say to myself, there is an inherent, latent force that will teach about Africans and Africa. It is my hope that by facilitating the process of "doing Oahu" I will help you learn something particularly African. I realize, of course, that by setting forth the percussion ensemble music of Gahu in the rather impersonal medium of a book, a book written by a non-African at that, I carry Gahu far from its Ewe roots. Perhaps it is appropriate at this juncture to implore readers not to be satisfied with this text alone: I urge you to seek African teachers!

Gahu is polyrhythmic music, an interwoven fabric of sound created by many distinct and contrasting phrases played simultaneously. Africans have carefully crafted the basic rhythm of each instrument in the percussion ensemble to add an important ingredient to the composite musical texture. Each instrument contributes its own powerful rhythm and as the parts repeat the players achieve their aesthetic goal, a beautifully integrated polyphonic whole. Each part asserts its musical character but remains sufficiently stable to be influenced by the others. Clearly, repetition is more central to this idiom than variation. The music moves in spirals, not lines: depth, not development, is the watchword. Given that the basic part for each instrument is a short motive that is repeated ad libitum without substantial variation, Oahu might seem to be a simple music. But rather than concentrating on their own parts, musicians hear the whole polyrhythm. The percussion ensemble is interactive, a feedback network in which instruments "talk" to each other in all combinations. Players repeat their distinct motives flawlessly while attending to the complex weave among parts. The challenge of performance lies more in perception than technique: can you hear the entire' 'musical mobile" without making a mistake in your own part? The gestalt of the composite polyrhythm and its separate phrases is open to multiple interpretation: the whole and its parts can be heard in a variety of ways depending on conceptual factors such as the durat!on, plac:ment and internal subdivision of metric stresses (beats), the relative prominence given to a particular part, or the moment a phrase is t~ou.ght to be~in. Creative performance depends upon a player's ever-renewing interpretation of his part within this kaleidoscopic musical context of shifting aural illusions. Repetition need not be monotonous: after all. a diamond lasts foreverl? Improvisation springs from a player's feeling for the potency of his part his sensitivity to interplay within the ensemble and his intuitive underst?nding of the generative musical ideas characteristic of Oahu. Dancers provide a crucial source of inspiration for the improvising musician, as well. Undoubtedly instrumental technique is an important factor in creativity, but the goal of the improvisor is to enhance the other parts rather than attract attention to himself. The African musician seems to be a witness to his own performance, a conduit through which ~he piece mani~ests itself. . While I approach Gahu as music, that IS as an aesthetically-charged sonic phenomenon, and concentrate my discussion on the patterning of abstract sound, Ewe performers regard their drumming as language. This point was driven home to me when I shared the first version of this manuscript with Gideon Alorwoyie. After listening carefully and gently correcting several factual details, Mr. Alorwoyie began talking about his lead drumming as a form of story-telling. He does not use ideas about the patterning of pure sound to contruct his improvisation, he sings his story on the drum! Sound that to an outsider seems to be abstract rhythm has meaning in the vernacular to an Ewe: where Locke hears music, Alorwoyie hears poetry.

8
Form

Drum Gahu

Introduction

9

In Oahu musical form is a product of choreography. In the Ewevillages, the Oahu dance consists of long passages of a lightly bouncy basic "step" leavened with brief "get down'sections in which the dancers lower their center of weight and move with intensified strength and quickness. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, when innovative African artists adapted Oahu for .'folkloricstage performance, other dance variations were added for the purpose of holding the attention of a seated, passive audience. I will present three such variations in this book. In addition, an entirely new section was added in which dancers move about the stage in highly choreographed patterns linked to drumming taken from another composition called Kinka. In the traditional "village" style the dance has two sections-A: the basic Oahu movement and B: the intense variation in which the dancers get lower to the ground -which are repeated over and over. In the original' 'folkloric" style the dance has two kinds of material-A: a section featuring the basic Oahu movement, interspersed with variations, and B: the Kinka section featuring the characteristic Ewetorso movement-arranged in ternary form, ABA.
The Dance

Oahu is a circle dance. Men and women wear outfits made with matching cloth; draw-string pants, knee-length tunic with flowing sleeves and floppy cap for men, wrapped skirt. blouse with flowing sleeves and head-kerchief for women. Dancers often wear sun-glasses and sandals-touches of modernity! Dancers move counter-clockwise in a four count pattern, divided into two, two count patterns. Emphasis is on the hip and shoulder movements: on counts one and two the left hip shifts toward the diagonal left rear direction, the shoulders twist to the left, the left elbow pulls to the rear (with the hip), the right hand pushes forward (with the right shoulder, knee and foot); on the "and" of count one, the body returns to a neutral central position in readiness for a repeat of the first count's "look" on count two. Feet slide flatfooted along the ground; arms are bent at the elbow and swing freely from the shoulder; the torso is bent forward slightly and a body wave ripples from feet to head on each step. The entire configuration is reversed over counts three and four, creating a repeating dance rhythm, "one and two, three and four." As outlined in THECALLseveral intense variations provide a contrast to this basic "step:'

System of Notation
In Africa, Oahu lives in a sensory tradition. Created in the minds, bodies and souls of men, it passes directly from person to person with no intervening media to remove the piece from its immediate, visceral context. This bookat the inter-cultural crossroads-renders Oahu through the media of prose, musical notation, graphic illustration, and audio tape.! have chosen my symbols with great care: my descriptive terminology attempts to resonate with

!

I I

the feeling of performance, Steve Lelcach's illustrations reflect his many years as a skilled performer of this music, and my system of musical notation tries to guide the reader toward an African musical concept. Inevitably, however, media color our perception of reality; indeed, the very act of fixing Oahu on the page is frought with problems," The musical factors which any system of musical notation for Ewepercussion ensemble music must handle include: timing, relative pitch and timbre of sounded tones, ornamentation, dynamics, articulation, dampening, phrasing, and polyrhythmic coordination among parts. In this section Iwill provide an overview of the system of musical notation I employ in Drum Oahu. More detailed information about the musical notation of each part is included below. I have decided to write the music in a modified version of staff notation. Time, elapsing from left to right top to bottom ~n the page, is di~ided into measures indicated by bar lines placed accordmg to the duration of the gankogui phrase. Measure numbers and section headings are indicated in the conventional manner. Most repeats, indicated with double bar lines and double dots, are marked' 'ad libitum," meaning' 'repeat at the discretion of the performer." Since performers use the gankogui phrase to reckon their position in time and within the polyrhythmic texture, it appears above the staff in most musical examples.P If you know your timing relationship to the gankogui phrase, you will know your relationship to all other performance actions. When the polyrhythmic Interaction is being discussed, simultaneous parts are "stacked" vertically. The staff is treated as a tablature: the location of the note head among the lines and spaces indicates the type of stroke to be played, and consequently its relative pitch and timbre. In addition, vocables are written beneath the staff, redundant information designed to facilitate practice with the drum syllables and clarify issues of technique and timbre. Orace notes are shown with small notes. In most cases, grace notes are option ornaments which should not be attempted by relatively inexperienced percussionists. For all parts except the lead drum, players normally do not control the sustain of a tone and rests are used to clarify the position of notes in relation to beats rather than actively created silences (dampenings). Dampening (actively controlling the duration of a sounded tone by stopping the vibratio? of the drum-skin with the fingers) is a crucial aspect of Ewelead drum technique. The act of dampening is shown with an x-shaped note head. Although most tones are played at full intensity and volume, accentuation and dynamic contrast are actively varied in certain m~sic~1 contexts. T~e sogo and lead drum parts frequently use crescendo rollmg figures; dynamlc markings (medium soft increasing to loud) appear ~eneath the ~taff. The axatse . sogo. kidi and lead drum parts can vary their accentuatIOn; I use just one degree of accent which appears above the staff. The most thorny musical concept is how to show phrasing, that is, the beginning and ending of a musical thought a particularly pr?blematic issue in this type of cyclic. repetitive musical idiom. The notator IS torn between wanting to provide the reader with useful and informed directions for good

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Drum Gahu

Introduction

11

II
I

I

performance on one hand, and wanting to keep the music open to multiple interpretation with regard to phrasing on the other. Everyone who has notated African music has wrestled with this dilemma. For me, it came to a decision between beaming according to the phrase or beaming according to the beat while bracketing phrases. I have chosen to combine the two systems, using each where appropriate. For the sogo and kidi parts I have beamed according to the phrase. Although beaming to the phrase may perplex and perhaps frustrate the experienced reader of percussion notation, I have adopted this unorthodox beaming convention for four reasons. First. the key to timing in this music lies in the relationship of strokes in the gankogui phrases to all other performance actions; beaming to the phrase forces you to scan vertically on the page to see the relationship between strokes in the sago and kidi parts to strokes in the bell part. Second, it is my impression that African musicians think of these parts in terms of two- or four-beat phrases, not beat-by-beat figures, and I believe the notation should so indicate. Third, I want to slow you down and make you think; the principles which animate this music are unique unto themselves and you must take time to consider these differences. Fourth, I want to show the tensions in time that arise from the staggered placement of phrases; beaming to the beat gives a false impression of unanimity of rhythmic orientation, It seems to me that the sogo and kidi phrases are sufficiently short and repetitive that willing and patient readers can decipher the notation, especially with the aid of the audio tape. I am fully aware of the burden I am placing on the reader and, as an aid when introducing the rhythms, I do present the parts according to standard beat-by-beat beaming; furthermore, note heads always are positioned accurately, left to right. along the continuum of elapsing time. Conversely, notes in the lead drum part are beamed according to the beat and phrasing is shown by brackets placed above the staff. It is my feeling that the complexity of the gboba part requires a more readily decipherable system of notation. Frankly, the aesthetics of the notation strongly influenced my notational decisions. When notating the kidi part for example, beaming to the beat simply looked too choppy while the one long beam appeared elegant. The gboba part however, seemed overly regulated by long beams; I wanted to keep the phrasing more neutral, hence beamed to the beat. Nevertheless, I implore the reader to pay careful attention to the phrasing brackets in the lead drum part: PHRASESIN AFRICAN MUSICRARELYSTARTON ONE!

from high to low. These six instruments are mandatory, but two further instruments also can be used: a canoe-shaped iron bell, atoke. and the large drum, atsimevu. For the most part, the names of the instruments are onomatopoetic renderings of their characteristic sounds and vary considerably from village to village. Although I always prefer playing the African instruments, I see no reason why Gahu cannot be played with equivalent instruments more easily available=cowbell. maracas, and four congas of graded pitch, for example. The instruments of the percussion ensemble can be grouped into three categories according to their musical function. The gankogui, atoke. axatse and kaganu parts articulate and embellish the key musical phrase which "sculpts" time into a distinct "shape" thereby implicitly establishing the music's meter. I refer to these instruments collectively as THE TIME. Musicians must be "locked into THE TIME" to play well. The sogo, kidl and kaganu parts create a three way musical conversation, the second layer of Oahu's distinctive polyrhythmic texture; because sogo and kldl also respond to the musical calls of the gboba llabel them THE RESPONSE. he gboba leads the T ensemble, setting the tempo, improvising on traditional phrases and providing choreographic signals; I term this part THE CALL to emphasize its interactive quality. Certainly, my use of the terms "call" and "response" is influenced by their frequent use in the literature on African music.

kidi gboba kaganu

~ ~ ~

axatse atoke

Musical Instruments and Playing Technique
In this section, I will introduce the musical instruments of the percussion ensemble and begin discussion of playing technique. More detailed information on playing technique is contained in the chapters on the specific parts,'? The percussion ensemble in Oahu consists of the following musical instruments: an iron double-bell called gankogui, a gourd rattle called axatse and four drums called kaganu, kldi. sogo and gboba in order of relative pitch fig. 1. I The drum ensemble.

[

gankogui

Ewe drums are carved from solid tree trunks or coopered in a barrel-like manner. As mentioned, four or five drums are used in Oahu: kaganu, kidi. sago, atsimevu and gboba.

12

Drum Gahu

Introduction

13

The kaganu is the highest pitched drum. An open bottom is found on the kaganu, a feature it shares with gboba. The kaganu is angled away from the player so that the air inside the drum can freely vibrate. . Sogo and kldi are the drums in the middle of Gahu's spectrum of relative pitches. Although sogo is larger and lower pitched than kidl. both drums ~r~ similar in shape and construction. Unlike kaganu and gboba, sogo and kldi have a closed bottom. They are played from a seated position but need not be tilted since a small hole is bored in near the bottom to allow the air inside the drum's cavity to vibrate. Drummers use straight wooden sticks and strike the drum-skins at approximately a 30 degree angle. Gboba is the lowest pitched drum in the ensemble. The drum is tilted in a drum stand and played from a standing position with massive sticks. It is common in folkloric groups to play the lead drum part on atslmevu. a large drum with a higher pitch and different timbre than gboba. Further, some groups prefer to play the lead drum part on atsimevu during the special variations of the Kinka section of Gahu. For this work I purposely use the term "lead" drum rather than the more commonly used expression "master" drum. Strictly speaking, "master drummer" is a title that refers to the musician's social status, a status earned not only through demonstrated excellence in performance but also throu.gh knowledge of traditional ways of living and a commitment to community. Knowing the lead drum part in other words, does not make you a master drummer! The drums are played with straight wooden sticks, graded in weight and length according to the size of the drum. Sticks are held between thumb and index finger; the end of the stick rests toward the center of the palm and the other three fingers gently curve around it. Palms face downward. Maintaining flexibility in the arms, musicians use flexion in the elbows and wrists to move the sticks.

Fig. 1.3 Holding and striking the gankogui.

The atoke is a canoe-shaped iron gongl bell. The player cradles it gently in his weak hand so that it will resonate fully and strikes it with a straight iron rod as shown in Figure 1.4.

Fig. 1.2 Holding the drum stick. Gankogui is a hand-held iron "gong" with two "bells" of contrastive pitch. As shown in Figure 1.3, the player clasps the gankogui from behind with the thumb and forefinger of his weak hand, using the other fingers to steady the instrument. The player holds the gankogui firmly without muting its sound. The gankogui is struck with a straight wooden stick, angled perpendicular to the instrument's length-wise axis.

fig. 1.4 Holding and striking the atoke. Axatse is a rattle made from a dried gourd with seeds, beads or pieces of bamboo laced around the gourd's bulbous end in net-like fashion with fishing line. The musician sits on a chair or bench, holds the instrument in his strong hand and positions the palm of his weak hand above his thighs. The player creates the music ofaxatse by striking the gourd against his thigh and palm.

I;

14

Drum Gahu

Introduction

15

Fig. 1.5

Thigh and palm strokes on axatse.

How To Use This Book
Although I usually address my remarks to the reader as if "you" are apercus" sionlst, Drum Oahu is intended to be valuable for anyone interested in music-beginners, experts, performers, composers, theorists, historians, comparative musicologists, ethomusicologists. Moreover, the activities of reading a book and practicing music tend to be solitary and one of the virtues of Drum Oahu is that it enables individuals to enter the world of African music. But Gahu is a collective endeavor: certainly, you can use this book by yourself, but the experience of Gahu willonly come to life if you work at it with others. I suggest that you read the entire text before working on the musical examples. Get an overview of the entire piece including its form, the interaction of music and dance, the musical function of each section of the ensemble, the nature of each instrument's part, the key concepts for generating stylistically appropriate variations, the musician's attitude toward his lnstrument and the process of improvisation, and so forth. Since I give a great deal of attention to specialized aspects of performance technique and musical analysis, I recommend that you avoid the tendency to move linearly through the book: get the big picture first before going back and filling in the details.

When you start working on the music, I urge you to become adept at vocalizing the examples-Ewe drummers say, "Beat the drum with your mouth." The reasons for vocalization are many: first, you will be able to "get into" the music right away without the necessity of acquiring percussionist's technique; second, you will be able to practice as you work on the musical examples. Please make frequent use of the audio tape: all the notated examples are played on the tape in the order they appear in the text. Manyreaders probably will prefer to rely on the tape, referring to the written music only to clarify rhythmical issues or technical questions such as which hand to use, or what kind of stroke to play. I encourage this practice. After you are familiar with a rhythm, please do not look at the notation at all; it is only a learning aid and memory device. Your goal must be to Internalize the music. Begin your study of the music by learning the gankogui rhythm: its shaping of time is at the core of the piece. Once you' 'have it together;' use a tape recording of the gankogui part in order to practice with the other parts. After you are comfortable with THETIME,use a recording of the gankogui, atoke, kaganu, and axatse parts together. A thirty minute cassette with the gankogui on one side and THETIMEon the other willprove invaluable. Always remember: a phrase must be right in itself and in terms of the gankogui phrase. Skip through the text and learn the basic parts for all the instruments in the ensemble before you attempt variations. Make sure to master each rhythm in duet with the gankogul and then In combination with the other parts. Try feeling the basic parts from the several perceptual vantage-points discussed in THE TIME. Do not rush into variations; they should come naturally, as an outgrowth of your familiarity with the patterns of sound and physical movement associated with the basic rhythms. Only when you are very comfortable with the basic rhythm of each lnstrument should you start working on improvised variations. Please use the audio tape extensively and always vocalize the rhythms before you drum them. Try to avoid becoming overly reliant on the notation: use the musical examples to recall sounds which you already know and as a means to clarify rhythmic relationships. Perhaps you might like to notate recorded examples yourself and then compare your result with mine. Although I have compos" ed prototypical examples of "improvisation" on sago, kidi and gboba and do feel that they can be extremely helpful in the learning process, they are in" tended only as models. Develop an understanding of the way variations are generated so that you can create your own combinations in a stylistically appropriate manner. Drum Oahu is designed as a resource, not as an unchanging score. Ihave not Included a complete score of the piece because Gahu is never perform" ed the same way twice. In my view, each performance of Gahu should be an adventure, a re-creation of its dynamic tensions In time, an exploration of the potential of each part, each phrase.

CHAPTER 2

The Time

17

THE TIME
I '

Let's begin by concentrating on the gankogui phrase without reference to other parts or timing guides. As shown in Example 2.1, it contains five strokes-four played on the upper-bell, one on the lower-bell. You can vocalize this phrase using any percussive consonant-vowel combination, such as "ko." to represent strokes on the bell.

repeat

many

times

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• Ao"tJE~

If. K"

I'

~

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ko

~

k ..

Ko

t
k ..

'0*0,,"*0

i

The purpose of this section is to establish the fundamental rhythmic structure of Gahu. I will begin by presenting the instrumental parts responsible for shaping its rhythm and end with a discussion of meter, the implicit yet visceral framework within which performance actions occur. (Please see the section below on meter for a definition of metric terminology.)

Ex. 2.1 Oankogui phrase by itself.

Tempo
Oahu is performed from a moderate to fast pace with quarter notes elapsing at the rate of approximately 138-168 per minute. I suggest that you learn new material at a slow tempo and then gradually bring it up to the brisk pace appropriate for the piece. Maintaining a steady pace, always a challenge in any musical idiom, is particularly difficult in the polyrhythmic context of the African percussion ensemble. In my experience, the best way to develop the ability to maintain steady pace is to be completely comfortable with the polyrhythm between the gankogui phrase and the beats: practice Examples 2.6 and 2.8 repeatedly to ground yourself "in the groove."

Freeman Donkor taught me this rhythm by breaking it down into two short figures. In Example 2.2A motive I "asks a question," motive II provides the answer; this progression from call to response, from antecedent to consequent, is an important aspect of the gankogui rhythm. Example 2.2B parses the phrase differently: notice that the three strokes in motive I are equidistanto Be careful especially with the timing of the second stroke: lnexperienced players often play it a sixteenth note late.

repeat many times 11

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repeat

I

The Gankogui Part
The gankogui part establishes the overall rhythm of Gahu. As you work with the material presented in this book, always try to establish your feeling for timing and groove by concentrating on this sounded phrase. Instead of relating your rhythm to a series of beats (to ONE), feel your part in polyrhythm with the gankogui phrase-that is the African way. Please refer to the INTRODUCTIONfor the fundamentals of playing technique on gankogui. I will add here that the richest gankogui tone is obtained by striking the bell with the portion of the stick about two inches from its tip; if you use the very tip of the stick, the sound is very "thin." Also, try to hold the stick with a flexible wrist, what might be called a ' 'soft hand," for this will allow the bell to resonate fully. Work'to get a sense of the bell's vibration so that you are not fighting the instrument. Seek the instrument's inherent "voice": a sensitive player can actually feel the stick rebounding off the metal, and will bring out the instrument's optimal tone and volume without beating it roughly.

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Ex. 2.2 Oankogui phrase as combination of two short figures,

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The first two examples ask you to consider the gankogui phrase by itselfa' 'figure" without its' 'ground;' so to speak. Two complementary approaches to the measurement of musical time, the additive and the divisive, provide a rhythmic context for the phrase. In the additive perspective, notes are felt against a subjective background grid of short, equidistant "bits" of time (pulses); the duration of tones is determined by adding together these small timing units. In the divisive perspective, emphasis is given to the polyrhythm

16

18

Drum Gahu

The Time

19

between sounded notes and evenly-spaced, kinesthetically and mentally marked moments in the flow of time (stresses or beats); duration is determined by the relationship between sounded strokes and felt beats. These two interpretive stances-the divisive, metered approach and the additive, timeflow orientation-need not be considered antithetical: both are available to the player as a guide to his performance and each yields different insights into the nature of Oahu's rhythm.' Consider the gankogui part from the additive perspective. that is, in terms of brief, fast-moving pulses. The essence of this time-flow approach is the proportions among the durations of tones. The proportions in the gankogui phrase, 3 + 4 + 4 + 2 + 3, color all aspects of performance in Oahu.

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Ex. 2.3 Oankogui phrase in additive. time-flow orientation.

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I

Ewe performers usually begin the gankogui phrase either on the first highbell stroke or on the low-bell stroke. for handy reference. I will number the strokes from one to five beginning on the low-bell stroke. Actually, stroke one may be played on either the upper or lower bell: inexperienced players usually need to mark each cycle of the rhythm by playing stroke one on the lowpitched bell. but I prefer to enhance the spiraling effect of the repeating phrase by playing all strokes on the high-pitched bell. In Example 2.4 notes are placed only on the moment a stroke is played; rests measure the duration between strokes. One long beam indicates the phrasing. Oiven sufficient practice with the previous examples, this unconventional manner of beaming should not be problematic .

Having dealt with the gankogui rhythm by adding together small units of time, let us consider it against a background of beats. The gankogui phrase in Oahu can be felt against a divisive framework of four beats each containing four SUbdivisions, that is, four quarter-notes. Clearly, Oahu seems to be in 414 time, but this time signature implies inappropriate conventions of accentuation - strongest accent to the first stress, secondary accent to the third stress, and weak accent to the second and third stresses. It might be closer to an African conception to regard the beats as a tactus. that is, an unaccented organizational device, for in fact each beat receives an equal accent. 2 Although in this book I use the 414 marking for its handiness in showing the 4 x 4 metric framework, I strongly advise the reader always to remember that this is what might be called 'African 4/4:' As mentioned in the section on meter, below. there is a certain degree of power and resolution associated with the first beat of the measure, to ONE, but the downbeat functions physically-in the body and mind-rather than sonically: ALL STRESSES RECEIVEEQUAL ACCENT. Example 2.5 shows the relationship between gankogui strokes and the four quarter-note beats: stroke two comes on the fourth pulse within beat one just before the second beat; the next three strokes lie on the upbeats of the second, third, and fourth beats; stroke five is only half the duration of the previous two strokes and leads to stroke one, the only onbeat note in the motive. If you recall motive I in Example 2.2B, it is now clear that the tendency to be late with stroke two is caused by the rhythmic "pull" exerted on it by the second beat. The beats may be tacit, that is, not sounded by any instrument, or sounded out on the atoke. In Example 2.5 I have used rests rather than ties because they emphasize more clearly the onbeat-offbeat relationships; I have drawn the beams leftward toward the rests in order to depict graphically the strokes' presence within beats.

.

I
I

Ex. 2.5 Oankogui part in 414

Ex. 2.4 Two main phraSings of the gankogui phrase.

The two-part polyrhythm between the gankogui phrase and the four beats in the measure creates terrific drive and drummers often rap it on the sides of their drums at the beginning of a performance to establish the basic rhythmic "feel" of the piece. Notice that stroke two of the gankogui phrase comesjust before the second beat; this portion of the polyrhythm is crucial to the power of the entire piece. In Example 2.6 upper notes should be played by the strong-hand, lower notes by the weak-hand.

20
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Drum Gabu
one two three four

TbeTime
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21

One, Throe

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Ex. 2.6. Polyrhythm

of gankogui

phrase and beats.

I

Analysis of the Gankogui Rhythm Good performance of Oahu requires sensitivity to the power of the gankogui phrase. Since it is important to understand the sources of its rhythmic potency let me suggest some ways to "get into" this rhythm. Feel the patterned movement from tension toward resolution within each cycle of the phrase. It begins with a feeling of instability, forward movement unrest and then moves toward a feeling of stability, completion, repose: stroke two barely evades the second beat, strokes three-five are squarely offbeat and the tension is resolved with the firmly onbeat final stroke.
resolved very stable

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Begin

Iiiiii,
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Ex. 2.7 Tension-resolution

in gankogui phrase.

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:\',

Avery good warm-up exercise is to practice the gankogui phrase in combination with various patterns of the beats. In Example 2.8 upper notes indicate the gankogui phrase, lower notes indicate beats. Each pattern is shown A)as a two-part polyrhythm to be played with hand clap (upper notes) and foot tap (lower notes); and B)as a resultant rhythm to be played with strong-hand (upper notes) and weak-hand (lower notes). Notice the bias against beginning on ONE:rhythms move toward resolution on ONE.

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V.

TiUE02,

Four

!'

VI. Three, Four, One

Ex. 2.8 Warm-up exercise with gankogui phrase and beats.

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22

Drum Gahu

The Time

23

I II

Once you are comfortable with the most important patterns of tensionresolution and the bell-beat polyrhythmic combinations, the following "more advanced" perspectives on the gankogui phrase may help you more fully appreciate its rhythmic potency. You may find that the musical situations I describe' 'happen" to you without your volition; they might even be sources of confusion that lead to performance problems, I present them both as suggestions for ways to derive creative inspiration from the gankogui rhythm and as insights that might help you understand reasons for its "tricky" quality. Please keep the material in perspective: the primary qualities of the gankogui rhythm have been presented above,the ideas below are of secondary importance. Strokes three, four and five can cause the beat to "turn around," that is, for the upbeats to be perceived as the onbeats. As wewill see,the kaganu part reinforces this on beat-upbeat reversal. Whenthis "gestalt flip" happens the phrase seems to change but actually it is the performer's interpretation of the rhythm that shifts. This is our first example of the' 'aural illusions" mentioned in the INTRODUCTION.
[9

Another kind of perceptual shift is what I like to call' 'positive ambiguity of phrasing:' This term refers to the way in which a continually repeating phrase can be reordered mentally into various rhythmic modes: the durations of notes do not change but their sequence and musical function does. By itself the gankogui phrase does not suggest unequivocally one placement of bar lines ~r one phrasing configuration: only in combination with other parts, especially the axatse. does it acquire definite shape. Since Ewepercussion ensemble ~usic. typically consists of a collection of short motives in staggered relationship to each other, "positive amibiguity of phrasing" seemsto be a ba~ic characteristic of this musical idiom: the beginning and ending of rhythmic patterns purposely always are equivocal. The five modes of the gankogui phrase are shown below.

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repeal ad lih

'norma!'

Ex. 2.9 Gankogui phrase rebarred with upbeat as onbeat.

Heightened awareness of the upbeats creates a double-time' 'feel:' In notation, this subtle difference can be shown through use of the 8/8 time signature. Especially notice the new rhythmic environment for stroke two.

I

Ex.2.11

five modes of the gankogui phrase.

liJ Ex. 2.10 Gankogui phrase In 8/8.

Although the fundamental metric orientation toward this rhythm is "African 4/4 time," the timing of notes within the gankogui phrase suggests alternative metric orientations, as well. As you work through the following nuances of cross rhythm and polyrneter, please remember that they definite-

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I

24

Drum Gahu

The Time

25

lv are subordinate to the divisive (4 x 4) and additive (3 + 3 + 4 + 4 + 2) frames of reference. If you are a relatively inexperienced musician, I advise you to take time before "getting into" this section: until you haveexperienced Oahu' 'straight:' do not try to bend it out of shape! The rhythm of Oahu explicity and implicity is enriched by cross rhythm and polymeter. Cross rhythm and polymeter involve a departure from the fundamental divisive framework of musical time in Oahu and the imposition of new divisive orders. As I use them, the difference between the two terms is subjective: in cross rhythm, the new ordering scheme fits within the system of the main meter and creates a patterned sequence of onbeat and offbeat accents; in potymeter. the new meter replaces the main meter and the mind recasts its interpretation of the music's gestalt. Although 2:3 (dotted quarter-note: quarter-note) is used rarely in Oahu, 4:3 (dotted eighth-note: quarter-note) is fundamental to its overall rhythm. When players want to increase the intensity of the music they rap the 4:3 cross rhythm on the sides of their drums. This cross rhythm assumes two shapes depending on which beat scheme controls the mind's gestalt. In Example 2.12 notes are beamed according to the fundamental meter; brackets above the staff demark the four implicit counter-measures indicated by the boxed-in numbers, and the beats in these counter-meters are written out for handy reference. The accented notes not only should be played a bit louder than the others, but should be given a kinesthetic "body" emphasis, as well.

Ex.2.13

OankoguI

phrase

In 414 with .314; 12116

polymeter,

I JD

Cankog ci phrase

Your perception of the gankogui rhythm will change if the counter-meters assume perceptual dominance. The change to 3/4 time leavesthe 4/4 syncopated feeling intact but alters the motivic shapes; in other words, the bar lines break the normal four-beat phrase into four three-beat phrases. In the 12/ 16 framework, however, the original phrase is so radically' 'bent-out-ofshape" that it is practically unrecognizable. In Example 2.14 brackets above the staff locate the four beat length of the gankogui phrase so that you can relate the "bent" and "normal" versions of the rhythm. The reader should note that this poly metric "recasting" of the gankogui rhythm is suggested more by the process of musical notation and analysis than by music actually played by Africans. Examples 2.14 and 2.15 are in the realm of AfricanAmerican music!

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~"Normal"

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Ex. 2.12

Perceptions

of 4:.3 in 414.

The 4:3 relationship is embedded in the rhythm of the gankogui. Spaced evenly three pulses apart, gankogui strokes one-three can be conceived as three of four beats from an uncompleted 4:3 pattern against beats one-three of the fundamental 414 meter. As shown in Example 2.13, the 4:3 pattern can be conceived polymetrically as 12/16 : .3 / 4. Dotted vertical lines indicate moments of simultaneity between bell strokes and the dotted eighthnote beats.

Ex. 2.14 Oankoguiphrase

in.3/ 4 and 12 / 16.

26

Drum Gahu
Deats

The Time

27

I

I

A good way to familiarize yourself with the' 'feel" of the gankogui p~rase in these counter-meters is to play the polyrhythm between the gankogUl phr~se and the beats in the counter-meters. In Example 2.15 the upper notes mdicate the beats and should be played with the strong-hand, the lower notes indicate the gankogui phrase and should be played with the weak-hand.

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Three

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repeat ad lib

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Axatse

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G,\d.cgui Phrase:

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Ex. 2.16 Axatse and gankogui parts and beats. Ex. 2.15 Polyrhythm

Of gankogui

phrase and beats in counter-meters.

Improvisation

in the Axatse Part

The Axatse Part
Please refer to the INTRODUCTIONfor the fundamentals of playing technique for axatse. Remember that rhythmical swaying initiated from the waistdancing in your seat- is a crucial aspect ofaxatse technique. Be loose with your free arm: feel the arm movements all the way from the shoulder joint. ~n the vocalization of the axatse part downward strokes on the thigh are said "pa" while upward strokes on the palm are said "tl," The axatse and gankogui parts work together: downward strokes played on the thigh duplicate gankogui strokes, upward str?kes.p!ayed on the palm occur on the beats. Thus, the axatse sounds-out the implicit polyrhythm between the gankogui phrase and the beats; it can be considered as the resultant of these two parts. The axatse phrase firmly establishes the primary i~terpre~ati?n of the gankogui's phrasing (mode 2, Example ~.ll). The explosive begm~~ng of the rhythm, "pa u.: reinforces the key relationshlp ~et~een gankogul s,seco.nd stroke and the second beat while the pause after Its final stroke functlons like an inhale of breath, readying the player for the next repetition of the phrase. As you play, lean backward as you begin the phrase and forward as you come to its end. , In Example 2.16the gankogui and axatse parts are ~eame? a~cordmg to the phrase, not the beats. Beams extend over the bar Ime to indicate clearly the way they should be phrased: please do not begin the axatse phrase on ONE! As is true throughout Drum Oahu, I urge you to vocalize the rhythm using the mnemonic syllables.

After you have become familiar with the basic axatse part in relation to the basic parts of all the other instruments, try creating variations. Although I have placed this section early on in the presentation, please do not add these variations until you are quite experienced and comfortable with the fundamental polyrhythmic texture of the piece. On the other hand, these variations can help keep the axatse part fresh and exciting. I have noticed a tendency among students to relegate the axatse to a low status among the various parts, but it is a vitally significant part and a great "place" from which to appreciate the polyrhythmic whole. The African attitude toward improvisation seeks a balance between the player and his instrument: once he physically sets the phrase in motion, the player "steps back" and listens to himself; as the part repeats over and over, reinterpretations of phrasing or accentuation, or subtle changes in the timing and choice of notes seem to suggest themselves. The player, in other words, seeks a balance between individuality and traditlon.> I learned some of the rhythms presented below from my teachers and others suggested themselves to me in the manner just described. Four processes of musical modification underlie this set ofaxatse variations: 1) alternative phrasing configurations; 2) interpretation of the full phrase as the sum of two shorter figures; 3) new patterns of accentuation; and 4) different but closely related motives. Among variations that maintain the sequence and timing of strokes in the basic part but change its patterns of phrasing and accentuation, differences are subjective, a matter of conception. Through this kind of subtle change in interpretation, you can keep the part from becoming too static. Changes in the axatse part affect other parts in the ensemble, especially the gankogui; for example, by changing his part the axatse player can "bring out" the alternate modes of the gankogui phrase.

28

Drum Gahu

The Time

29

I

In the examples below the shape ot the phrase-where It oegms ana ends-is indicated by beams. Scan vertically upward to the gankogui phrase to fix yourself in time. A crucial aspect of playing variatio?s is the abiI.ity to reckon your position in time by listening to the gankogm: now you will experience the importance of thoroughly understanding the relationship of bell strokes to beats. I have replaced final strokes with rests to indicate the altered phrasing more clearly, but you should keep the body movement of the basic phrase intact; the eliminated strokes can be played as weakly accented, "ghosted," strokes if you wish. Please observe the accent marks; they should help you flip the phrasing in your mind's ear, Let us begin with variations that keep intact the timing of strokes in the basic part but change their phrasing and accentuation.

The next group of variations uses new sequences of timing and stroking. They should feel as if they evolve naturally from the basic phrase. [B] i H" repeal ad lib L...:....

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Ex. 2.18 Axatse variations using new sequences of timing and stroking. Finally, here are two variations, built by isolating and repeating a segment of the full phrase, which create polymetrtc tension. To help you with their timing the variations are rewritten above the staff with beams drawn according to the beats.

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Ex. 2.17 Axatse variations created by altering phrasing and accentuation.

Ex. 2.19 Polymetric axatse variations.

30

Drum Gahu

The Time
The Kaganu Part

31

Analysis of the Axatse Part
Although its primary role is to "flesh out" the gankogui part, please do not regard the axatse part as insignificant. Not only does it confer excitement to the music, but the part also provides excellent preparation for advanced drumming because it permits improvisation and combines the two fundamental determinants of Oahu's rhythm-the gankogui phrase and the beats, Below are some aesthetic goals to keep in mind as you play. When the axatse player sticks close to his basic phrase or chooses resolved relaxed motives, he tends have an outward orientation and is focused on his interaction with other members of the performing group, Alternatively, when he plays tense unresolved motives, he tends to have an inward orientation: he focuses on his own playing and calls attention to his part. As is true of any musical idiom, sensitive players strive to balance these complementary orientations. Antecedent-consequent relationships pervade Oahu. In the axatse part these are most apparent in the motives conceived as two figures: one figure calls, asks a question, feels incomplete and then the subsequent figure responds, answers, provides a sense of closure. Often, the two figures are in perpetual movement: each can be heard as question to the other's answer. Motives that evolve from strokes seven to four of the basic phrase intensify the music's texture and raise its dynamic level. These rapid figures increase the volume through an increase in stroke density and their choppy rhythms create an intensified "feel" by putting more pressure on THE TIME. In contrast, the smoother motives that evolve from the even eighth-notes within beats two to four relax the texture and lower the dynamic level. Motives whose phrasing overrides the design of the basic part enhance the circular quality of the polyrhythmic texture. The basic part, on the other hand, solidifies the primary interpretation of the phrasing of the gankogui rhythm. (See Example 2.4A.) You can avoid a monotonously static quality to your performance by moving among the various modes of the axatse phrase. Each repetition of the basic axatse part creates a sense of tensionresolution during every repetition: it beglns-vpa-ti't-wlth a burst of high energy and then "cruises" to resolution on ONE. Moreover, the axatse player can create longer patterns of tension Iresolution as follows. First, terrific tension in time is produced by motives of twoand three-beat duration that are built on the choppy, dotted segment of the basic phrase (strokes seven to four); moderate tension is created by motives built from equidistant eighth-notes, Second, when the axatse player consistently accents the upbeat "pa" strokes in the basic phrase causing them to acquire an onbeat feel, he applies pressure to THE TIME. Finally, he can assault the fundamental meter by using the motives that strongly suggest 314 or 12/16 (6/8) time. After building tension in this way, a return to the basic phrase and its subtle variations provides a sense of resolution.

Kaganu is played from a seated position. Remember that the kaganu should be held between the knees and tilted away from your body. Unlike in the other d~um parts, there is just one type of stroke on kaganu: the long slender stick hits flat ~n the drum -skln making a crisp sound that cuts through the more m.ellow tl~bre of the other three drums. Be sure to keep your wrists even WI~hthe nm of the drum. so th.at y?u aCh.ievethe correct tone quality. If your wrists are too low, the stick will hit the nm. if they are too high the tone will be too resonant. Work on your weak hand; most students find it is truly weak an? cannot produce the same power as their strong hand or even keep proper time,

Fig. 2.1 Playing position, wrist position and stick angle on kaganu. The kaga~u part consists of a two-stroke figure played four times within each gankogUI phrase. The strokes fall on the third and fourth subdivisions within ea~,hbeat. As you voca!ize the part, notice that the percussive syllables "kaga are off the beat while the softly nasalized "nu" falls directly on the beat. I suggest that you give powerful body accent to the third syllable. .

Ex. 2.20 Kaganu part.

32

Drum Gahu

The Time

33

Many students find the kaganu part ~asy to un~ers.tan? i.ntheory, but ma?deningly difficult to achieve in practice: the mind ISwilling but the flesh IS weak! Hopefully, the following musical analysis will improve your understanding of "how to hear" the part, but some advice on purely physical issues may also be helpful. If you have trouble controllingyo~r weak hand leave out the second stroke of each pair: as pointed out below, smce the essence of the kaganu rhythm is its accentuation of the upbeats this will maintain the part's contribution to the polyrhythm but eliminate the uncoordinated member! While you are developing your skill, slow the rhythm down and count t~e four sixteenths within each beat, keeping silent on the' 'one-two;' soundmg the kaganu strokes on "three-four." Analysis

music.'

The question may be asked: do the kaganu pairs come after or before the beat? While this may seem to be merely a quibble, the answer does have an impact on performance. My suggestion is to feel each pair of kaganu strokes as pushing toward the subsequent beat because this encourages the effect of forward-driving momentum. Because of kaganus powerful polyrhythm with the other parts, Ewe teachers often metaphorically call it the "salt" in the musical "stew" that is the polyrhythmic texture. Certainly, its one-beat phrase length encourages beat-by-beat attention to performance actions, and its insistent articulation of the third and fourth subdivisions of the beats increases the density of the

of the Kaganu

Part

The interaction of the symmetrical kaganu figures and the asymmetrical gankogui phrase is one of the key features of the. r~ythm of Gahu: .an absolutely essential aspect of the gankogui rhythm IS ItS polrhyth~ wl,th ,the kaganu part; conversely, each of the four pairs of kaganu strokes ISdlstlnctively "colored" by the way they match up with particular gankogui strokes. This interaction should be understood as an instance of the characteristic mutual interdependence of all parts within the percussion ensemble. Notice that the first stroke of the second, third and fourth pairs match bell strokes three, four and five, but that the second stroke of the first pair matches ~ell stroke two: concentrating on this synchrony Is vital to good kaganu playmg.
rcpca t ad
j

I suggest that you shift your focus among these various interpretations of the part; sometimes listen to its interaction with the gankogui phrase, sometimes hear THE TIME in a beat-by-beat manner, and sometimes try to turn the beat around. Once you are adept at these interpretations you might like to hear the kaganu in terms of cross rhythm and polymeter.

Meter
In this section I will briefly summarize my terminology and outline my approach to the metric structure of Gahu. My attitude is that theory is deduced from performance, not that performance exemplifies theory, so I will keep my remarks as brief as possible. Meter in African music is a much debated topic and my ideas are not unequivocally accepted.> Rather than debate the issue here let me simply state that my decisions about 1) the length of the measure; 2) the location of bar lines; 3) the division of the measure into equidistant on beats, upbeats, offbeats and pulses; and 4) the presence and structure of cross rhythm polymeter are determined by A) my years of perfor~ance and teaching experience; B) my overall knowledge of this particular ~Iece; and C) the need for consistency and clarity in terminology and notation. Please remember that metric concepts should never replace the primacy of the gankogui, axatse and kaganu rhythms as determinants of your timing, "feel" and "groove." By meter I refer to the mental and physical process of ordering time into sP7cific durations (measures), subdividing that time span into equidistant units (beats and pulses) and feeling patterns of stress within that frame (downbeat, onbeat, upbeat). In this presentation of Oahu, time is ordered into measures whose duration and location never change. Measures (and bar lines) are meant to function as a steady referent to help players know where they are within the flow of time. Each measure contains sixteen pulses; four pulses group to form a beat; there are four beats per measure. Within each measure, specific instants function as moments of tension or resolution, movement or stability, rhythmic dissonance or rhythmic consonance. These moments occur in balanced pairs, a pattern of "strength" and "weakness" which exists symmetrically at the following four spans of time within one gankogui phrase: A) the measure; B) the half-measure; C) the

lb

one

two

three

four

Ex.2.21

Interdependence of kaganu and gankogui parts.

Since the first stroke of each pair falls squarely on the upbeat, the kaganu part strengthens the upbeats and contributes to the effect of "turning the beat around." In fact, if you have difficulty feeling the beats correctly, the source of your trouble may be the power of the kaganu. part. Without a doubt, one of the primary functions of the kaganu rhythm IS to accent two of the weakest moments in THE TIME. K.nowing the kaganu part, one can understand that the weakest moments in THE TIME are the second sixteenth -notes within each beat.

34

Drum Gahu

The Time

35

beat: and 0) the half-beat, At the level of measure. the first beat (the downbeat) is balanced by the third beat: at the level of half-measure. the first and third beats are balanced by the second and fourth beats; at the level of beat each on beat is balanced by each upbeat; at the level of half-beat each onbeat and upbeat is balanced by each offbeat.

> 0

=

str-or,g

U "" weak

.>
I

v

u

v

Cross rhythm and polymeter change the number of beats per measure and the subdivision of these beats. As I have repeatedly stated, the primary divisive order to Oahu's musical time is quaternary (beats subdivided into fours) and quadruple (four beats per gankogui phrase). The new musical frameworks implied by cross rhythmic and polymetric phrases are ternary and duple I quadruple: the beats are subdivided into threes and there are two or four beats per measure. Notice. however, that when rhythms create 2:3 and 4:3 patterns, the quarter-note beats of the fundamental meter change from a quadruple to a triple scheme; the three beats in 2:3 or 4:3 ratios are the quarter notes which normally are felt "in four." Further notice that the periodicity of the new 2:3 and 4:3 ratios differs from the that of the main meter: you must repeat them four times within the span of three measures before the whole configuration repeats. In other words, four cycles of 2:3 or 4:3 fit within three appearances of the gankogui phrase. Finally, observe the following correspondence between the most frequently played cross rhythmic ratios and their equivalent poly metric combinations:

(£)
I

v'>\.J>V~\)

jl

Cross Rhythm
>\.1'>\.1
>U>V

POlymeter

2:3 4:3

6/8:3/4
12116: 3/4

f:x.2.22

Patterns

of stress within

the measure.

Example 2.23 shows the typical cross rhythms used in Oahu. Brackets and numbers show the reordering of the basic 414 cycles. Beams and ties are drawn according to the quarter-note beats for maximal clarity of timing.

:. II·

Strong and weak moments within the measure can be arranged in order from resolved to unresolved as follows: downbeat (ONE), third beat, second and fourth beats, all onbeats, all onbeats and upbeats. It will be seen that weakest moments within the measure are the second and fourth pulses (termed offbeats) within each beat. Strong moments are marked by strongly accented physical movements, they are felt as points of repose, and phrases often move toward them, acquiring a sense of resolution as tones are sounded on strong "places in THE TIME." Weak moments, on the other hand, are marked by lightly accented physical movements, they are felt as points of instability, and phrases often begin on weak "places in THE TIME:' Of course, the force of Oahu's music largely derives from the artful use of weak moments in THE TIME, but this power depends on the mutually defining, interdependent relationship between weak and strong moments in THE TIME. As stated above, cross rhythm and polymeter involve an adding to or departing from the primary meter's ordering of time. As I use them the difference between the two terms is subjective. In cross rhythm the new ordering scheme fits within the system of the main meter and. as a result of this superimposition. a patterned sequence of onbeat and offbeat accents is created. In polymeter the new ordering scheme replaces the main meter and the mind recasts its interpretation of the music's gestalt.

o

repea.t ad lit: I

~

rl~~--~~

~=u~Lf*5· bt~
!.
3 I

<

.J.

__j

L

......J L......_~

....J

Ex, 2.23 2:3 and 4:3 cross rhythms

in 4/4 .

36

Drum Gahu

Conclusion
Together, the rhythms of the gankogui, atoke. axatse and kaganu design musical time in Gahu. They create the rhythmic context within which the other parts occur. The atoke part is optional. The overall rhythm is set by the gankogui part: 1. The ever-cycling phrase establishes the piece's fundamental phrase length (a 4/4 measure) with its symmetrical divisions (sixteen pulses, four beats) and its assymetrical interpretation (3 + 4 + 4 + 2 + 3). 2. The polyrhythm between its strokes and the beats creates the basic progression from tension to resolution within each measure. 3. The phrase hints at the presence of cross rhythm (2:3, 4:3) and polymeter (3/4,12/16,6/8) and the importance of offbeat moments within the measure. The axatse part: 1. Solidifies the primary interpretation of phrasing and meter. 2. Articulates the essential yet usually abstract polyrhythm between the gankogui and the beats. 3. Varies its part to keep the music open to multiple interpretations of meter and phrasing. The kaganu intensifies the rhythm by: 1. Coloring the tones in the gankogui phrase though moments synchrony. 2. Accenting the upbeats and driving toward each onbeat. 3. Increasing the density of the overall texture, of

CHAPTEK3

THE RESPONSE
As stated in the INTRODUCTION, the three-way conversation among sogo. kidi and kaganu forms the middle layer of Oahu's three-part polyrhythmic texture. The kaganu player repeats his part without variation but sogo and kidi have leeway to improvise, giving their conversation a dynamic quality. The combination of THE RESPONSE and THE TIME creates Oahu's wonderfully propulsive rhythmic texture: even without the lead drum part, a well-played version of this ingeniously designed combination of rhythms produces' 'hot" dance music. Work with the music of THE RESPONSE can be considered as preparation for understanding and playing the lead drum part. Not only are the essential ingredients of stick drumming technique required-formation of strokes of differing timbre, speed. clarity, and volume- but crucial issues of musical conception are introduced-sensitivity to the give and take of ensemble playing, concepts for putting "pressure on the time," responsiveness to the cues of the lead drum. methods for generating stylistically coherent variations on a basic phrase, and the ability to improvise without losing one's place within the cycle of the gankogui phrase. Since this book is performance oriented, THE RESPONSEprecedes THE CALL, even though the order may seem illogical. I will focus first on the polyrhythm created by the interaction of the simultaneously sounded phrases of sogo. kidi and kaganu and then turn my attention to improvisation on sogo and kidi parts. I deal with improvisation as follows: first, I select several of the commonly used alternate phrases for each part; next, I present ways to rework them and generate new variations; finally, I provide sogo and kidi studies as examples of how to use the methods of creating variations to improvise with these phrases. Before getting to the music, however, a discussion of drumming technique and musical notation for the sogo and kidi parts is needed.

I strongly urge you to return continually to this section as you progress through the subsequent material. Study each new phrase in terms of its manifold qualities for it seems to me that powerful performance of Gahu depends upon deep understanding of THE TIME.

o

Gankogui

repeat

ad lib

A
1<.0
@JAxatse

~
",0

/
ko

I
ko

~
ko

.
~

Drumming Technique
Drummers use two kinds of strokes on sogo and kidl. bouncepress-strokes: and

t:1
P"

1-1
po.

I
p~

1 ..1
to P"

I
to

:
• Bounce-strokes: resonant, loud, lower-pitched strokes; the tip of the stick strikes the center of the membrane once and then is allowed to rebound away freely.

po.

[g Kaganu _C_
i\" - t o_

~
•• J._~

_O
t~
kol,-tQ.

_O
kll-t-",

--

ko..-

Ex.2.24

THt; TlJI1t; In Oahu.

• Press-strokes: muted, soft, higher-pitched strokes; the tip of the stick strikes the membrane once and then is held down firmly.

37

38

Drum Gahu

The Response

39

Both left and right hands play bounce- and press-strokes. As mentioned in the INTRODUCTION, the stick's fulcrum is formed by the thumb and forefinger; the middle finger steadies the end of the stick; the third and fourth fingers curve gently toward the palm. Bounce-strokes are played with a relaxed hand: the end of the stick should be free to move between the middle finger and the palm. Press-strokes are played with a more tensed hand: the middle finger holds the end of the stick firmly so that it cannot move, thus enabling the player to hold the stick's tip strongly against the membrane and keep it there. As is true with virtually all musical instruments, it is vital to stay relaxed, especially in the shoulder, elbow and wrist joints. The forearms do move up and down but the stick is moved toward and away from the membrane primarily by wrist flexion.

~

Fig. 3.2 Striking the drum.
I

Strive for bilateral symmetry: the left and right sides of the body should be mirror images of each other. To keep your neck, shoulders and Wrists relaxed, occasionally roll your head and shrug your shoulders while you play. Do not be shy about swaying in your seat.

fig. 3.1 Bounce-stroke and press-stroke technique.

i

i

The sticks should be held at about a 30 degree angle in relation to the drumskin. The tips of the sticks always should strike in a small circular area in the center of the drum-skin. Although inexperienced players almost invariably change the place they strike the drum-skin when trying to form bounce- and press-strokes, this is a mark of inefficient technique: BOUNCESAND PRESSES SHOULD BE PLAYED IN THE SAME SPOT ON THE DRUM-SKIN. The sticks should move toward and away from the skin on a straight, vertical plane, rather than on an erratic or curved path; this will improve your timing and endurance. As was true for gankogui strokes, be sensitive to the natural rebound of the stick off the skin: good tone comes from not impeding this "trampoline effect." On the other hand, you must strike the drums with a great deal of power to achieve their full resonance potential; try to set all the air within the body of the drum into vibration. You have to "put out" high energy to play African music!

Fig. 3.3 Playing position on sago and kidi.

40

Drum Gahu

The Response

41

Dynamic accent does not playa large role in the response parts, although I do suggest methods for its use in the kidi part. I have written accent markings into the sogo part, however, because all bounce-strokes are accented in comparison to press-strokes. Quiet tones, such as those in the sogo's crescendo rolls, are produced by keeping the sticks close to the skin; raise them farther from the skin for accented tones. In general, all bounce-strokes are played at equal volume-loud -so each stick should be raised an equal height away from the drum-skin. Grace-notes can embellish and soften the beginning and ending of bounce-stroke figures. Grace-notes which precede a group of bounced tones generally are played at a softer volume. but grace-notes which follow a group of bounces are played at full volume. Drum Stroke Syllables Joining their brother percussionists throughout the world, Ewe drummers use vocables as an elegant. rigorous and musical method of oral notation. As used by most Ewe drummers, the system of vocalization is full of homonyms and synonyms: one vocable can stand for several strokes or, conversely, several syllables can represent the same stroke. The system I use here was developed by Godwin Agbeli and me during my research on Atsiagbekor in the mid-1970s.l Although syllables may look the same on paper they are spoken in low and high speech tone, as indicated by the diacritical marks. bounce strong weak "de" "ge" "ki" "di" press strong weak "tsl" "ki" "di"

bounce-strokes set the drum-skin into vibration and press-strokes s!oP that vibration, effectively ending the bounce-stroke tone. Press-strokes, In ot~er words, dampen bounce-strokes. In the Ewe system of drum stroke vocalization for the response parts dampening is indicated by adding" -n' to the end of a syllable. Throughout the sogo part, therefore, bounce-stroke.syllables played by the strong-hand often appear as "den," not "de." Aesthetlcally. the final" -n' gives a pleasing closure to the syllable.

Musical Notation
As you have learned in THE TIME, I treat the five-line staff as a tabla~~re: rather than representing the actual pitch of the sounded tone, the position of the note-head on the staff indicates the type of stroke to be played and the hand to play it with. The placement of the note-head, in other words. tells you whether to playa bounce- or press-stroke and whether t? ~se your strong- or weak-hand. In the musical examples for both sogo and kidi parts, note-heads are placed in the four spaces of the staff from bottom to top, as follows: • • • • first space: bounce-stroke, strong-hand Second space; bounce-stroke, weak-hand Third space; press-stroke, strong-hand fourth space; press-stroke, weak- hand

sogo: kidi:

~

~

t

t

As will be discussed below, a characteristic feature of the sogo part is a fivestroke crescendo-roll, "he re be ge de": • "he"; the stick, held in the strong-hand, begins near the drumskin, lightly touches its surface and then is lifted away. The volume of the stroke is relatively soft, the emphasis is on the lift. • "re": the stick, held in the weak-hand, begins raised away from the drum -skin and is brought toward the skin just as the stronghand stick is lifted away. The volume of the stroke is still relatively soft, but louder than the first stroke. • "be"; the strong-hand stick forcefully strikes the drum-skin as the weak-hand stick is raised up. The stroke is at full volume-loud, • "ge de"; normal weak-. strong-hand bounces. Dampening- controlling the duration of a tone by stopping the vibration of the drum-skin-is a subtle, yet important. dimension of Ewe drumming technique. Dampening is vital in lead drum playing where the player continually controls in a rhythmic manner the length of his notes, but is only marginally and passively involved in the response parts. Here is how it works:

In most examples, beams are drawn according to the phrase,. not the be~ts. As explained in the INTRODUCTION,I.hav~ adopted t?is beaming convention in order to show graphically the tensions In the music and to e~c~urage ~ou to use the gankogui phrase, rather than the beats, as your tl.mIng gUide. Since this approach does obscure the timing of notes in relation to be~ts, when first introducing a basic phrase I always analyze note-beat relatlonships and present alternate methods of beall!i.ng. . Since the music of Gahu is steeped in repetitIOn, repeat markings are very important. Repeats are indicated in the conventional manner with a double bar line and double dots. The frequently used word direction, "repeat ad lib;' means to repeat the material for as many times as you like before going on. Phrases almost never start at the beginning of measures: I urge you to keep this in mind. Bounce-strokes are inherently louder than press-strokes but because I have used the same note-heads for both types of strokes, this r:nay not be visually obvious in the notation. I have writt~n ac~ent markings above bounces, especially in the sogo part to emphasize this vol~me cont!a.st. Intentional emphasis in accentuation is a tecnntque for varymg the ~Idl part. so please pay careful attention to these oc~as.lOn.aldynamic markings: The sogo's crescendo-roll, discussed above, IS indicated by a conventIOnal crescendo marking, with the loudness increasing from medium soft (rnp) to loud (f). Grace-notes are written with small-sized not~s. R~sts are used to clarify timing, not to indicate an actively created musical Silence. With regard to drum stroke syllables, in most of the musical examples on.IY the bounce-stroke syllables are written out. There are two ~easons for oml~ting the press-stroke syllables: first bounce-strokes constitute the player s

42

Drum Gabu

Tbe Response

43

"speech' ~ his contribution to the ensemble's musical conversation-while presses are "fillers" which keep the musical line flowing; second, only bounces are recited when drummers "beat the drum with the mouth."

Tbe Basic Parts of Sogo, Kidi and Kaganu
Oahu music is not played identically by different performers. As discussed in the INTRODUCTION,the piece is played in a wide variety of geographicallocations and socio-cultural contexts. Furthermore, Oahu was created and is maintained in an entirely sensory, unwritten form so it is not surprising that subtle variants of the all the parts, kaganu excepted, are found in different village groups and folkloric companies. Certainly, one of my challenges in preparing this text was the choice of phrases to represent the basic parts, especially for the response and lead parts. I will use the sago phrase taught by Abraham Adzinyah and the kidi phrase taught by Oodwin Agbeli as the basic rhythms of these parts; these phrases are well suited for new players because they are rhythmically clear and technically uncomplicated. As will be made clear in the discussion of improvisation, however, a "part" might better be regarded as a rhythmic idea which players articulate in a flexible, protean manner, rather than as a "basic" phrase and its variations. Kaganu Kaganu has a dual function in the percussion ensemble: it helps define THE TIME and also makes a vital contribution to the three-drum conversation of THE RESPONSE.ts contribution to THE TIME has been discussed in Chapter I 2; its role in the conversation among the three response drums is presented below. The Basic Sogo Phrase Although improvisation is vital to the sogo part, its "basic" rhythm makes sogo's primary contribution to the conversation among the three response drums. The part has two identical motives separated by a pause, each comprised of three evenly-spaced strokes.
repeat Ir,any times

bounce-strokes fall directly on beats two and four, the presses come on the following up- and onbeats. Sogo's two bounces occur just.after t~e ~econd and between the fourth and fifth gankogui strokes, respectively. Wlthm each motive, the first press matches a gankogui stroke, the second matches a beat.

,.,
~ Cankogui

repc.lt ad lib

w
I

i'

W

l'
I
t')'O

[lJ

T

41

T

(2)

/"
I

OD

one Ileat>

three

four

I

~

I

'rr
Di
II

o

UJ ___
So~o

J

m

Q

iT

Ex. 3.2

Basic sogo phrase

within

THE TIME.

In notation, beaming according to the beat (Example 3.3A) clearly sho~s timing but misconstrues phrasing. In order to convey visually the unity and shape of the sogo part, I prefer to beam together all three notes and use an eighth-note rest (Example 3.3B).

0Bcarning

by beats

d~- tsi -

tsi

I]] Beaming

by motives

.I. - t..; press

f.si

=/£: J'T7
press
L_j

bounce

,.fa '
L_..J

Ex. 3.3

Method

Of beaming

the sogo phrase.

bounce

Analysis of the Basic Sogo Part
The basic sogo part makes three important contributions to .Oahu's rhythm. First, the sogo part accents the second and fourth beats: this pattern of accentuation is a fundamental aspect of the rhythm of Oahu, one that affects every performance action. Together, the sogo and kaganu parts accent the ,'weak" moments in the measure. You might think of it as call-and-response

Ex. 3.1

Construction

of the basic sago phrase.

Where does the sogo part fit within THE TIME?The first motive stretches over the second and third beats, the second motive over the fourth and first; the

----_
44

.....

_---_

..

__ _
.....

Drum Gahu

The Response

45

between the beats one and three and sogo's bounces on "two" and "four," between each beat and kaganu's upbeat accents. Second, sogo'~ fi~st bounce, entering a split-second after gankogui's second stroke, maxrmizes the energy produced by the interaction of that stroke and the second beat. Beginning students usually find this rhythmic tension very hard to handle. When playing the gankogui, they tend to be late with the ~econd stro~e and put it right on the second beat; when playing sogo. they Just cann.ot ~md the second beat and, unable to feel THE TIME, often shift the phrase within the measure so that the bounce-strokes fall on beats one and three. In this situation I advise students to reckon their position within THE TIME by concentrating on the axatse part since it manifests the polyrhythm between the gankogui phrase and the beats, Thir?, the ~resses in th,e second motive reinforce the feeling of resolutlon=arrtvat on ONE-mherent to gankogui strokes five and one,
/

Where does the kidi phrase fit within THE TIME? Motive I starts on the fifth gankogui stroke, flows through the low-bell stroke and ends with presses timed to the first high-bell stroke and beat two; motive II begins on the third gankogui stroke, pushes through the third beat and ends with presses that match the fourth gankogui stroke and the fourth beat. In both motives bounces always begin on a gankogui stroke and then push toward and through the next beat; the first press always matches a gankogui stroke, the second press a beat.

0
(]J

Boats Kid;

on.

J

J
Co' rn

two

throe

J

four

J

[fJ

Cankogul

~1

~

~;
W

m

r

ill

~

[AJ

Axat ..c

repeat ad lib

i~
Sogo

~~--~I~I~~I-I~

Ex. 3.6 Kidi phrase within TNE TIl'1E.

1m
_-,

I I

l

~r---rl-'I

I

As in the sogo part, I beam the kidi phrase according to motivlc structure rather than beats, Although example 3, 7B may take a bit more effort to read than 3.7 A, I prefer this system of beaming because it quickly shows the unity of the phrase and visually indicates the pressure kidi puts on THE TIME.

GJ
Ex. 3.4 Sago and axatse parts.

Beaming

by beats

The Basic Kidi Part The basic kidi phrase consists of two nearly identical motives. As shown in Example 3.5, each motive starts with four bounce-strokes timed to the sixteenth pulse flow and ends with two press-strokes. In motive I there is a slight pause after the bounce-strokes (shown with the sixteenth-note rest) and the press-strokes are very close together, but in motive II there is no pause after the fourth bounce-stroke and the presses are more widely spaced,
motive I bounce

!]J

Beaming by motives

t:x. 3.7 l'1ethod of beaming the kid! phrase. Analysis of the Basic Kidi Part I will discuss four aspects of kldl's influence on the polyrhythm, First, the kidi phrase enhances the spiraling quality of THE TIME, its' 'positive ambiguity of phrasing," Specifically, the kidi phrase strengthens the fifth and third modes of the gankogui phrase because of the location of its bounce-strokes, (See Example 2.11.) The kidi rhythm also exerts influence on the axatse phrase: the bounce-stroke figures encourage variations A and G, the presses strengthen variations E and F.(See Examples 2.17,2,18.)

rr-oeivo Il

I ~;r~:ir:! J j j
$1

0
Construction of basic kldl phrase,

ki,Ji- j; - d;

t:x.3.5

46

Drum Gabu

Tbe Response
t'

47

Second, rhythmic movement within the kidi phrase "colors" the strong moments within the measure. The presses within motive I accentuate the all-important relationship between bell stroke two and the second beat, the initial "pa-ti" of the axatse phrase. The bounces, beginning on unresolved upbeats and driving toward onbeat resolution, accent beats one and three While the presses lend weight to beats two and four.

0 _::1
ko

Cankogu.

repeat

ad lib

~
~o

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I
1<0

I
~o

_l

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_l

I
110

1
ko

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!

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Kidi

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1
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de.

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arrtvaj arrival

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k;-~;-.j;-.I;

j_j_

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k,-di _ ~1'-4;

~l
k~.d"-ji.A;

.J -~ 1<;-./,

Ex. 3.B Accentuation in the kidi part Third, the kidi and kaganu engage in intense dialogue: within each motive kidl's first two bounce-strokes precisely match a kaganu pair, while its third and fourth bounces are kaganu's on beat inversion.

'=>; ....1,[_D]
J<i1g,mu

;;

=
k«-+ e,

--=k ...

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=
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k... t.. ,

--=
k ... ·t..

/(o._-t"

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k.. -t..

o

Kagunu

rcpoa! ad Jjb

Ex.3.10 Polyrhythm

of THE RESPONSE.

I

I
I

The sogo, kidi and kaganu parts are linked in the ~i~;-and -ta.ke of m.usical conversation: sogo's low-pitched bounce starts, kidi s ~o~r mld~le-pltc~ed bounces follow and kaganu's two high-pitched strokes flnlsh. This cornblnation phrase occurs twice within one gankogui phrase.

m

Kidi

Kaganu

Kag anu
Sogo Kid
i

Kaganu

Ex. 3.9 Dialogue between kid! and kaganu parts, Fourth, the kidi phrase can be conceived as call-and-responsa between its bounce-stroke and press-stroke figures, an interaction which can "turn around" so that either the bounce-stroke or the press-stroke figures can be heard to come first. The Three-Drum Conversation The rhythms of sogo, kidi and kaganu are designed to mesh together like gears in a finely-tooled engine: each part not only is interesting and selfsufficient in its own right but also is engaged vitally with the other parts of the ensemble, As is true of many kinds of African ensemble music, players are "alone together."

Sogo

Kidi

Ex.3.11 Three-drum conversation.

In Oahu, rhythms almost never begin on ONE! The circular qu.al.ity of Oahu's rhythm is enhanced by the staggered placement of the sogo, kldl and kaganu rhythms within the gankogui phrase, Notice how these rhythms are phrased over the bar line.

48
.;

Drum Gahu

The Response
traction occurs when a bounce-stroke is changed to a press-stroke or simply omitted; variation by addition occurs when a press-stroke is changed to a bounce-stroke. • Ornamentation refers to the use of grace-notes to soften the percussive starkness of the ornamented note as well as heighten its rhythmic potency. In any bounce-stroke figure grace-notes may precede the first note (prefixed grace-notes), follow the last note (suffixed grace-note), or precede and / or follow a middle note. • Variation by subdivision: dividing a long note into several quicker notes. • Isolation and repetition: isolating a musical figure within a longer motive and repeating it. • Syncopation: playing a note in an unexpected position, either anticipated or delayed. • Goal-oriented Phrasing: creating motives that begin rhythmically unresolved and end rhythmically resolved.> Improllisation on Sogo

49

0
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Sogo

t-

...

2-

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Kidi

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r

Z.

..

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z...

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[SJ

Kagar-u

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~"'---;3"'~~~

Ex. 3.12 Phrasing over the bar line.

Consideration of the three drum conversation raises several crucial aspects of drumming technique. First. bounce-strokes make the contribution to the call-and -response, press-strokes really are more for the individual player and should not be played too loudly. Second, the polyrhythmic texture is like an ever-renewing rhythmic mobile: dynamic rhythmic movement is engineered perm.a?ently into the composition by the staggered placement of cogent repetitive rhythms, but the player must maintain equal volume and intensity on all bounce-strokes in order to achieve this goal.

Improvisation on Response Drums
A? discussed !n the. presentation ofaxatse variations, the player does not WIllfully force Ideas mto his part. but responds to the inherent tendencies of his b~sic r~ythm and. allows variations to develop on their own. The player practices his part until he can produce the basic rhythm effortlessly, with little need for his intellect, his Will; then, the body "plays itself." Players need to know more than what phrases to play for this sort of lrnpro~isation; they n~ed insight into the process of generating variations, a feelmg for Ewe musical thought. an intuitive understanding of the style of Ewe m~si~: Whil.ethis kind of familiarity obviously requires exposure to .'the ~ealthmg and IS beyond the scope of a book, I would like to propose several Ideas. It seems to me that among the characteristic features of this music's style are the following processes of generating improvised variations: • Variation by accentuation refers to altering the intensity / loudness of strokes without changing their timing or timbre. . • Stroke substitution refers to creating variations by changing the timbre of strokes without changing their timing; the motor pattern remains the same, but the shape of the rhythm changes. In the response parts stroke subsitutlon is of two kinds: Variation by sub-

The amount of musical activity in the sogo part is a function of the form of the dance. (See the INTRODUCTION and THE CALL.) During intervals of regular dancing the lead drummer is the main improvisor and the sogo player complements his phrases. but whenever the dancers lower their centers of gravity the roles are reversed and sogo "takes the lead" in generating rhythmic excitement. In this section I will present four additional motives for the sogo part. suggest ways to modify them, and offer examples of their use in extended passages of improvisation. The basic phrase will be called motive A. MotiveH Motive B SUbstitutes a bounce-stroke in place of the second press-stroke in the first motive of the basic rhythm, creating a measure-long phrase. Unlike motive A, motive B has no feeling of resolution on beat three, but like the axatse phrase there is strong cadence on gankogui strokes five and one. Beats two, three and four are strongly accented and there is tight interlock between gankogui strokes two, three, four and five and the sogo's bounces.

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ti, - ,h.- t~,"Ex.3.13

d~--t.s;

- ,h-ts, -<1 .. -+ ..,_

Sago motive B.

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50

Drum Gahu
OIl

The Response
(I)

51

Motive B can be ornamented with grace-notes before (prefixed) or after (suffixed) the core strokes. Conceivably, grace-notes could be placed before and/ or after all three bounce-strokes, but considerations of technique and musicality limit their use. The vocalization of press-strokes in Example 3.14 is optional; if you like, try a quiet' 'ch' sound instead of a fully articulated "tsi."

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f:x.3.14 !:

Ornamentation of sogo motive Ii Bx, 3.15 Improvisation using sogo motives A and B.

Example 3.15 demonstrates the way a long passage can be developed from motives A and B using the processes of ornamentation, stroke substitution and accentuation shift. Notice the delayed, syncopated placement of the second main bounce-stroke in measure 9 and observe the repeat markings.

MotiveC This is the phrase Godwin Agbeli teaches as the basic sogo rhythm in Oahu. It closely resembles motive B but because it changes the context of the bounce-stroke on the second beat it sounds quite different. Notice that motive B's bounce-strokes on beats two-four remain but that the bounce on beat two now is the last note in a new, strongly syncopated figure. This threenote figure is the heart of motive C: beginningjust after the low-bell stroke and matching the first high-bell stroke, it interacts forcefully with the gankogui phrase.
lA)Sogo motive C H

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Ex. 3.16 Sogo motive C within Tiff TIME_

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52

Drum Gahu

The Response
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53

Motive C is wonderfully designed. Observe its balanced proportions: the brief jagged opening (figure I) followed by the longer smooth ending (figure II), the whole structure hinged around the bounce-stroke on beat two. Figure I of motive C sets up extremely powerful and significant new relationships with all performance actions. Its activity within the first beat assures the circular quality of the gankogui and axatse phrases, the stroke on the second pulse of the first beat lends weight to the fourth bounce in the kidi motive, and both offbeat strokes within beat one create intense polyrhythm with the kaganu strokes. All the excitement caused by figure I is balanced by the smooth "onbeatness: of figure II.

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Ex. 3.18

Ornamentation Of motive C.

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C

MotiveD Motive D exemplifies the process of isola~ion a~d re/?etition. The s~go player creates the short intense motive D by isolatlng figure I of motive C a.nd repeating it in the second half of the measure. Within the thir? beat: ~otlve D barely evades stroke four of the gankogui phrase and really lntenslfles the sogo's interaction with kidi and kaganu.

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I -f

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Ex. 3.17

Sago motive C within

the polyrhythm.

Look at the rich assortment of' 'licks" generated by motive C when the pro. cess of ornamentation is applied. Little wonder that Godwin Agbeli teaches his African students to use this rhythm as the basic sogo phrase in Gahu.

Ex. 3.19

Sogo motive D.

54
MotiveE

Drum Gahu

The Response

55

dants.: At this juncture, it might be worth pointing out that two of the most
difficult aspects of playing Ewe dance-drumming are: 1) the placement of motives in their proper position within the gankogui phrase; and 2) musical memory. Students often find that although they are comfortable with motives in isolation, they are unable to play them in the correct relationship within the gankogui phrase; remember. a motive played correctly, but in the wrong place against the gankogui part is incorrect. Further, in the excitement of live performance it is maddeningly difficult to keep the five motives in mind, ready for musical use. I have created the following study to help you remember the motives and practice playing them in correct placement within the gankogui phrase. By demonstrating the improvisatory process and suggesting effective combinations of motives, the study should provide insight into the style of Oahu drumming. I suggest that you play the study as written and then use it as the basis for your own improvisation by reordering the motives, changing the repeats, and so forth. Eventually, you should be able to improvise in this style without recourse to the musical notation. Please observe markings for repeats, accentuation and crescendi. I strongly suggest that you work on the study without grace-notes at first; when you do introduce them please be aware of frequent double-sticking (bounce-press) with the weak-hand. Let me remind you: your learning of this music will be helped immeasurably if you practice with a tape recording of the ganhogui part. Better yet, practice with friends! Each passage (marked with Roman numerals) focuses on specific musical ideas and processes. Below I "talk through" the study to help you get a feeling for my intentions.
Passage I

Motive E uses the crescendo roll "he re be ge den" discussed in the section on drumming technique, above. The three motives thus far introduced have gradually increased the textural density and raised the dynamic level of the sog~ part: Motive E continues the trend, but instead of the jagged shape of motive 0 It has a smoother, more flowing design. Motive E, which manifests the flow of pulses within the first and third beats, epitomizes another fund.amental. process of improvisation in Ewe drumming: variation by subdivision. Notice the subtle crescendo given to its five bounce-strokes; they should be very goal-oriented, pushing toward resolution with accented strokes on the second and fourth beats.

1Z!CilnkogUi

repeat ad lib

I
ITD Sogo,

~~~I----~I--~I-motive [

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I

j

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f k~ ... b.~ .. de...

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Ex. 3.20 Sago motive f.

Although they are quite similar, motives 0 and E differ in their aesthetic qualities as summarized below. motive D jagged shape sparse texture feels tense interactive creates intensity motivef smooth shape dense texture feels resolved introspective creates momentum

Start out playing motive A (m. 2) and after repetitions sufficient to establish its impact on the overall texture, move to motive B giving it lots of repetition (m. 4). Then, make a two-measure phrase which combines motives A and C ornamented with a second bounce (mm. 5, 6). Inspired by that ornament join motive A and motive 0 into a two-measure phrase, ornamenting motive A in the second measure (mm. 7, 8). Next reach a peak of intensity by extending the idea of motive 0 into another two measure phrase, playing motive 0 twice in the second measure (mm. 9, 10). End this passage by cooling down with motive B and the basic "lick" (mm. 11, 12).

I suggest that you balance these sorts of qualities as you develop a personal style of playing long rhythmic lines.

Passage II

Combining Motives: Sogo Study
Ha~in~ become .famiii ar with five motives and seven processes of generating variations, the time has come to combine these musical elements and make good music with the "ancestral" motive A and its four motivic "descen-

Heat things up again by getting into motive C for the first time (m, 14). After sufficient repetition, intensify this "feel" by combining motives C and E into a two-measure phrase (mm. 15, 16). Finally, "go all out" by repeating motive E by itself (m. 17), before edging out of this passage with a progression from motive C to motive B and then back to "basic" (mm. 18- 20).

II

----------------'-----58 Drum Gahu The Response 59

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60

Drum Gahu

The Response
stroke Substitition

61

Improvisation on Kidi
~ Unlike the sogo material which generally reflects Godwin Agbeli's drumming style, the following kidi rhythms are to a much greater extent the product of my own style of playing Gahu. This style as written results from articulating previously subliminal ideas, systematizing performance techniques, and :'composing" a~chetypal variations. I do believe that my style is grounded In African practice, though I caution you to recognize its syncretic, AfricanAmerican nature. The style of kidi improvisation discussed below emphasizes: l)"turning the beat around" through shifts in accentuation; 2) frequent stroke substitutions to create syncopated rhythms and measure long phrases; and 3) ornamentation,

The process of stroke substitutlon yields interesting variations on the basic phrase, Let us deal first with variation by subtraction, that is, changing a bounce-stroke to a press-stroke or omitting the bounce entirely. If we regard the first and fourth bounce-strokes as the constant frame of the kidi rhythm, elimination of the second and third bounces yields four different bouncestroke figures as shown in Example 3.23, Figure B has a hard-driving quality and it strongly engages the kaganu rhythm; figure C eliminates the onbeat stroke and has a softer, syncopated quality. Figure D should be used sparingly because it tends to obscure the character of the kidi phrase.

Shifts in Accentuation: "Turning the Beat Around"
The basic kidi motive can be rephrased by altering the intensity of certain strokes without changing their timing or timbre. By intensifying the first bounce in each motive, you can "turn the beat around," that is, feel the upbeat as onbeat. (See THE TIME, Example 2.9,)
[9
~
Cankogui

0

repeat ad lib

rof 1
lID
ki.d,'-~i-d;

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ki-d;-3i-di

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Ex.3.21

Kidi and gankogui phrases with upbeat as onbeat. Ex. 3.23 Variation by subtraction in kidi part.

Alternatively, by playing the bounce-stroke figure with a crescendo leading to an intensified fourth bounce, you can put pressure on the second pulse within beats one and three, normally the weakest moments in THE TIME. (See the discussion of meter in the INTRODUCTION.)This kidi variation works well with motive C of the sogo part.

Ex. 3.22 Kidi phrase with fourth bounce intenSified.

Since the full kidi phrase contains two motives, many variations can be created by mixing the four bounce-stroke figures in various combinations. Although the subject is quite difficult to follow in prose, let me talk briefly about two aspects of drumming technique. First, when eliminating bouncestrokes you have the choice of 1) changing the eliminated bounce to a press, thus dampening the previous bounce; or 2) letting the previous bouncestroke ring. Each option has its own musical and kinesthetic effect: option one abruptly ends the decay of the previous bounce-stroke (dampening) and requires 'the sticks to remain near the drum-skin; option two permits the bounce to ring and allows the sticks to be raised up in preparation for more powerfully accented subsequent strokes. Second, when you let the previous bounce-stroke ring you have options for which hand to use for the subsequent strokes: either you can 1) keep the same hand -use pattern; or 2) make more use of the strong-hand. The latter option tends to confer more drive to the stroke.

I,

62

Drum Gahu

The Response

63

1

Now, let us deal with the second variety of stroke SUbstitution, variation by addition, that is, changing a press-stroke to a bounce-stroke. I often enjoy changing the second press-stroke in each motive to a bounce-stroke. This subtle alteration extends by one eighth -note the length of each bouncestroke figure and connects the two kidi motives into one measure-long phrase. The added bounce-strokes fall precisely on the bounce-stroke of the basic sogo motive, creating the effect of combining the sogo's call and the kldls response into one musical line. In Example 3.24 handedness strictly conforms to the basic phrase but in the kidi study I offer some other patterns. I suggest you practice the handedness of the rhythms both as written and as works best for you.
repeat ad lib

As in the sogo study, I have tackled specific musical challenges in each passage, as outlined below. Motives I and II refer to the two halves of t?e full kidi phrase, figures A - D refer to the four varieties of bounce-stroke fIgures discussed in Example 3.23.
Passage I

After establishing the basic rhythm (m. 1), i~trodu~e com.binations built around figure C: first substituting figure C for :Igure A in ~otlve I (m. 4), next adding a bounce on beat two (m. 6), and finally playmg a two-measure phrase that contains figure C as well as the added bounce on the second beat (mm. 7, 8). Then "cool down" with the basic phrase (mm. 9,10).
Passage 11

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I"

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lr:.i-ki.Ji_

This passage centers around figure B. Begin with a two-measure phrase using figure B in the motive II of the second measure (mm. 11, 12). ~ext, embellish figure B with a prefixed grace-note (m. 14) and then replace fIgure A in motive I (rn. 15) and after some repetition, embellish that' 'lick;' as well (m. 16). Get into a slightly new idea by a~ding a b?un~e on .the fourt? ~eat, returning to the basic motive I (m. 17). Finally, exit this senes of variations by way of a phrase that combines bounces on the fourth and secon~ b~ats with figureC (m. 18). Again "cool down" with the basic phrase, but this time with a touch of ornamentation, the prefixed grace-note (rn. 20),
Passage/ll

ki-

b-

d,'

I:i- k,_

Ex. 3.24

Variation by addition in kidi part.

Combining Motives: Kidi Study
Having presented the building blocks of improvisation on the kidi part, I now present a study as an example of their use in context. When creating the study I tried to balance consideration for 1) kidl's function within the polyrhythmic network with; 2) the rhythmic interest of its own line. Musical notation enabled me to contemplate the part out of musical time as performed and without immediate consideration of instrumental technique: how much easier it is to put a mark on the page than to render the desired sound on your instrument! The following "composed improvisation," in other words, is a very densely packed, technically difficult version of the kidi part. Be forewarned: the kidi study is much more difficult than the sogo study but really will develop your "chops,"

This passage plays with the idea of accenting the second pu.lse ~ithin the first and third beats, that is, the fourth bounce-stroke. Begm with a tW?measure phrase in which the accentuation is placed o.nthe fourth bounce m each figure and a bounce is added on the second beat in the second measure (mm. 21, 22). Next, play another two-measure phrase using figures A, D, B, and D in succession (mm. 23, 24) and then a similar two-measure phrase using figures B, D,C and D wit~ an ~dded bounce o~ the sec?nd beat (mm. 25, 26). The grace-note preceding figure C can be either a sixteenth-note or.a thirty-second-note in duration; handedness may be reversed to make It easier. .h 1) Things get really intense in the next two-measure phrase whic uses: figure D with the last bounce ornamented with a su.ffixed gr~ce-note; 2) th~ same figure but with the first bounce ornamented with a suffixed grace-note, 3) figure A; and 4) figure Dwith suffixed grace-notes on both bounces (rnm. 27,28)1 You may prefer to omit the grace-notes,. . Finally, playa very sparse offbeat phrase that uses figure D but also Includes added bounce-strokes on the second and fourth beats; ev:r~ other stroke has a suffixed grace-note which makes this measure very dlffl~ult to play (m, 29). Notice that this phrase closely resembles quarter-note tnplets. As before, collect your thoughts with the basic phrase (mm. 30-32).

II

64
Passage IV

Drum Gahu

The Response
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65
,13 lib

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I

This passage plays with added bounce-strokes on the second and fourth beats, in combination with the four different bounce-stroke figures. The notation for handedness is a suggestion only: experiment with your Own patterns of sticking. Begin with a two-measure phrase that mainly uses figure A but adds a bounce-stroke on the fourth beat of the first measure, followed by figure C (mm. 33, 34). Next create a two-measure phrase that extends the use of the "kl ki-di-gi" idea of the previous phrase (mm. 35, 36) and then, after one measure of the basic phrase, playa final two-measure phrase that works on elimination by stroke subsititutlon, as follows. first. the second bounce becomes a press; second, the basic rnotlve, third, the second bounce again becomes a press; and fourth, the third bounce becomes a press (mm. 38, 39). The entire study ends with a return to the basic phrase (m. 40).
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The Response Drum Gahu

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CHAPTEK4

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/

(
I'

Conclusion
The a bilit Y.to improvise well on the II .. unde.rstandmg of THETIMEand THERE~op~ and kldl requires thorough con~lder.ation of keeping stead ti . NSE.Beyond the fundamental musical Idiom, consider some of~he:e I~ SIUCh. .strongly polyrhythmic ? usica abIlItIes required: 1. To be comfortable with the m . gankogui phrase and the m . I any mterpretations of the 2 11 usica meter. . " 0 be able to use the axatse hr within the measure and to feel the . ase to ~eckon your position phrase and the beats. e Interaction of the gankogui 3. Tohear the polyrhythm between and to feel the upbeats stron I your part and the kaganu part 4. Tobe comfortable with t~:th how to allow it to continue as ~ee-dru.m conversation and know 5 11 h you ImprovIse 0 ave mastery of stick technique 6' "f, . . 0 be familiar with the lead drum" s par t and the dance. Fu:t~er, you should have a feelin for ~hlftl~g accentuation, stroke S~bsti~h~.methods of generating variations: isolation and repetitio n. syncopation u ion. I' ornamentation ,VISIOn .. subdt b alan~e of differing qualities of int .: goa -oriented phrasing, and th~ . WhIlethis may seem like an idea :n~lt~ and momentum. ISworthwhile to remember that Ew lIstlc..I~not unrealistic, list of abilities it ~f being born and raised in this m~s7U~ICI~~Sacquire these skills by virt~e ave not had a lifelong exposure to thl ca rm leu. VYe, "the unenculturated " the musical idiom of a foreign cUltu;: ~ay °hf makmg music. Creating withi'n ISa c allenge. It takes time.

THE CALL

I

The lead drummer must possess creative musical intelligence of a very high order. While the music of THETIMEand THE RESPONSEis premised upon repetition, the music of THECALLdepends upon change, Whereas the other parts each have one basic theme which is cycled over and over with relatively limited improvisational freedom, a large number of musical ideas traditionally are associated with the gboba part and the lead drummer is expected to improvise intelligently with this significantly more diverse musical vocabulary. In addition, he must have control of a larger tonal palette than do the other players for drumming technique is much more complex on the lead drum, especially with regard to variety of strokes and dampening. Simply put. the lead part contains a great deal more musical information than other parts. The musical goal of the lead drummer is to reveal fully the power of Oahu's rhythm. As the ensemble's leader, the gboba player needs thorough knowledge of every aspect of the instrumental music of Oahu, not just his own part. He designs his phrases to showcase the rhythms of the other instruments and to display the protean quality of Oahu's meter. In the final analysis, his success depends on his ability to generate musical power: he must have "chops," "licks" and "something to say." The lead drummer has a vital role in the dance. He determines the duration and order of the preplanned sections of the dance and since he must inspire the drummers to create music of great power, it is upon him that the liveliness and beauty of the dancers' movements ultimately depends. Interaction between drummers and dancers is vital to spontaneous creativity: the lead drummer watches the dancers and responds musically to their movements, just as they answer kinesthetically his rhythmic calls. The lead drummer's responsibility extends beyond his role as instrumentalist: he must control the dramatic effect of the entire performance. He needs to know when to intensify the music, how to keep the dancers "in the mood" but not exhausted, and how to involve the audience in the event. As other students of African music have pointed out. it is the depth of his character and his ability to create community in performance that makes the gboba player a "master drummer." 69

70

Drum Gabu

Tbe Call

71

Drumming Tecbnique and Drum Stroke Syllables
Although the correct drum used for the lead part is gboba, many folkoric groups use atsimevu. I learned Gahu at Wesleyan and in Africa using at. slmevu. for example. In referring to the instrument of the lead part I will use either gboba or the more generic term, lead drum. As mentioned in the INTRODUCTION,other drums can substitute for the Ewe instruments. After all, it is the music and the feeling of the music that is indispensable. The lead drummer either uses a stick in each hand or a stick in the stronghand and his bare weak-hand to create drum strokes of various timbres and relative pitches. In addition, he controls the duration of his notes by rhythmically dampening the drum-skin and he is very aware of articulation, accentuation and dynamics. As demonstrated in THE RESPONSE, nemonic m syllables provide a handy form of "oral notation" which enables the student to practice in his mind. The recitation of drum-stroke syllables can communicate information not only about type of stroke, but about handedness, duration, articulation, dynamics, and accentuation, as well. My principal teachers, Godwin Agbeli and Midawo Gideon Alorwoyie, employ the syllables in a very orderly manner and the system of mnemonics employed in this book, while standardized to some degree, is based on their common practice.

Fig. 4.2 Playing position on gboba. reas of the gboba's drum-skin: a small Strokes prim~rily are played ~nat~~:ut_shaped ring between this circle and circular area In the center an I d on the drum's wooden sides. the skin's rim. Strokes also are p a_ye __

Fig. 4.3 Regions

of the drum -skin.

Below is a chart which shows the mnemonic syllable, the hand to use, and a verbal description of how to play the stroke: Syllable "ga" .'de' , "ge" "gi" "dzi" "ton" Fig. 4.1 AtsimelJU. "kpa" Hand to Use weak· hand strong-hand weak-hand weak-hand weak-hand strong-hand strong-hand strong/weak Description of Stroke bounce with full hand in ring and center. bounce with stick in center. identical to "de." bounce with fingers in ring. press with fingers in ring. .,. "de" while tightening drum-skin With fmgers of weak, hand. bounce or press on side of drum. " " simultaneous doubling of' 'ga" and kpa.

"dza'

72

Drum Gahu

The Call

73

"gi" or

"azt:

"ton"

The music of the lead drum has a melodic quality: the timbral / tonal contrast between successive strokes and the contour of relative pitches within a phrase are integral to the lead drummer's art. There are three tonal ranges: low"":'ga" and "dza" strokes, middle+ 'de" and "gi" strokes, and high"":'dzi" and "ton" strokes. In the musical examples the "ton" stroke is written "to," pronounced as a strongly nasalized "taw.'? The pitch less "kpa" strokes organize and add emphasis to the rhythmic line developed with drum-skin strokes: it is as if the drummer "tells his story" on the drum -skln and' 'punctuates" his remarks by rapping on the drum-shell. Godwin Agbeli taught me that the lead drummer should keep the strong-hand constantly active by using "kpa" strokes when it is not playing other strokes. The lead drummer uses "kpa" strokes to interpret THE TIME by marking its strong moments or articulating surprising accents. Although their timing is a matter of improvisation and personal style, I suggest useful positions for "kpa" strokes in the presentation below; you should experiment freely with your own placements. Crescendo figures similar to the' 'he re be ge den" motive on sogo are prominent in the lead drum part. The three special strokes, "he;' "re' and "be;' described above are used on gboba. (See THE RESPONSE.) Besides their concern for the timbre and tone of drum strokes, lead drummers obviously give careful attention to the timing of strokes. Although timing might seem to be primarily a matter of attack-the moment a stroke is made-the duration of a tone is also carefully controlled. Toa much greater degree than on sogo and kidi. the rhythmic dampening of the gboba's vibrating drum -skln with the fingers of the weak- hand is a crucial dimension of lead drumming style. Dampening is difficult but greatly enhances the music's beauty by shaping the ends of phrases. Although you can explore the lead drum part without executing the dampenings indicated in the notation, I urge the drummers among you to develop this valuable skill. In vocalized mnemonics, dampening is indicated by modifying the ending of the basic drum-stroke syllable. There are two types of dampening . • "-n": dampening that ends a relatively long tonejust before the next tone is begun . • "-t": abrupt dampening that shortens the tone, giving it a staccato quality. This discussion of drumming technique makes clear that the rhythm of the lead drum part involves more than timing and phrasing. Attention must be given to tone quality, pitch level, accentuation, dynamics and articulation.

"kpa"

"dzan

Fig. 4.4 Lead drum strokes.

Fig. 4.5 Dampening.

74

Drum Gahu

The Call

75

Musical Notation
~s is true of the musical examples thou h tion of the lead drum part is a tablatu .g out D:~m Oahu, the musical notastaff tells you the type of stroke tIre. the pOSItIOnof the note- head on the the drum stroke chart above fo~fhay and the hand to play it with. (Refer to and handedness.) As shown i; Exam elcorrespondence between stroke type on the staff in order of their relativ: ~t~~' the ?otes are arranged vertically hand bounce-strokes "ge'~ b p.' N~tlce that both types of weakf~ngers, are written on' the secoonudnce WIth,?~~~~k and "gi' ~bounce with the tlon while "ge" is used throu h ~pace. GI IS~sed only in the Kinka secten ~irections, "one stick-on~ h~~d~I,1 other sections of the piece. The writThe mdefinitely-pitched "kpa" str a?pe~r abov~ the staff, as necessary. the notehead. 0 e ISwritten with a backslash through

k

The lead drummer balances static and dynamic musical elements: he plays phrases appropriate to the piece and improvises upon them in stylistically acceptable ways. Although I have organized gboba's music into discrete phrases, each phrase really is the core idea for a set of variations generated through processes of musical modification characteristic of Ewe drumming style. It is my belief that an understanding of and facility with these processes will help you learn to play within the style of Ewemusic. The following list of dynamic musical processes overlaps and expands the categories proposed in the discussion of improvisation on the sogo and kidi parts. Each heading identifies a technique for creating variations that are genetically related to the "ancestral" phrase:
1. Stroke substitution: changing stroke type without changing timing. 2. Ornamentation: embellishing "structural" notes. 3. Segmentation: parsing the relatively long phrase into shorter motives

1

Dampening is indicated with a relativel Unless It Occurs directly on the beat the d y smal.1note x-shaped notehead. the drum stroke it modifies b tits tt ampenmg stroke is not beamed to fI A ' U I S tIming within th b t I . . ags. dampened stroke is' it f e ea ISindicated by staccato dot is added to convgeylvtehn un. undampened time value, but a I sh A I' e s ortness of a " t" t d s exp amed in the INTRODUCTION be' - ype ampening. tated by beat-units rather th h '. ammg for the lead drum part is dield b . an P rasing Phrasinq th t i I ea egms and ends, is indicated b b' . a IS,when a musical should be carefully observed 0 I Y rackets above the staff and always This set of notational symbols' I'snYh ne dbegreeof dynamic accent is used o SOwn elow. .

which themselves then become available for repetition and variation. 4. Repetition: choosing how many times to repeat a musical thought. S. Timing displacement: keeping a motive intact but shifting its placement within the measure. 6. Filling or emptying musical "space": adding or leaving out notes. 7. Rephrasing: changing the interpretation of a phrase's beginning and ending. 8. Metric modulation: expressing cross rhythm or polymeter by using rhythms based on a ternary rather than binary organization of pulse and beat. 9. Dynamics: varying the loudness and intensity of notes. 10. Accentuation: varying the prominence of selected moments in time. The point I wish to emphasize is that because the lead drummer spontaneously creates a fresh interpretation of his part at the moment of performance, learning the lead drum part involves much more than mastering a group of phrases." Accordingly, in the ensuing section not only do Ipresent the "licks" and analyze the sources of their musical power, but also I give examples of ways to modify and combine them in a stylistically appropriate manner. I suggest that you work at first on the material as presented, but gradually learn to generate your own improvisation as you master the processes of musical modification typical of this idiom. As I have stated in the INTRODUCTION, this book presents an AfricanAmerican, synthesized version of the piece and the question inevitably arises: what is the relationship between the African way of playing Gahu and my own syncretic style of rendering the piece? The five key phrases presented below are taken directly from African models-either my teachers, Adzinyah. Donkor, AgbeJi or Alorwoyie, or a Gahu club from the town of Aflao. Ghanaand the processes of improvisation are derived from my long involvement with this idiom. Nevertheless, the particular manner in which the musical material is combined definitely reflects my own aesthetic choices. Furthermore, my abstract, systematic, analytic method of presentation of the material is decidedly un-Afrlcan. In the section to follow,Iwillmake every ef-

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Ex. 4.1 Key to notation of lead drum part.

The Process of Improvisation
Impr ovisa tlIOn IS much more essential for th . . other part in the ensemble Althou h th e lead drum part than for any some leeway to create variations ~he I e ~x~tse, sogo and kidi players have range of musical choices and ~' ea rurnmer faces a much greater have more types of strokes Pbert °hrmhance responSibilities: not only does he devices wl u evices WIthwhich to ernbelll' h th e as .more phr ases and more musical IS em' he ISgiv f completely new phrases' and h ." en more reedom to generate members of the percussi~n en~ eb:s expected to be sensitive to all the of the audience. em e. as well as the dancers and members

76

Drum Gahu
Analysis of Phrase One

The Call

77

fort to identify material that is particularly idiosyncratic. It wiII reassure the reader, however, to know that I have played Gahu in this style for Gideon Alorwoyie and Godwin AgbeJi and have not been reproached for violating their aesthetic standards! I present the lead drum part in accordance with the choreographic form of the dance: first, "basic" Gahu movement; second, signals to the dancers, that is, the three variations; third, the Kinka section; and fourth, the ending signal. Please refer to the section on form in the INTRODUCTION,and the sections below for more detail on form and dance movements. I have tried to include sufficient lead drum material to keep Drum Oahu a useful resource for many years but, as you will see, some lead drum phrases are no more complicated than the rhythms of THE TIME and THE RESPONSE. I suggest that you learn the core ideas of the various phrases and signals before attempting to go into depth on any of them. Remember: a few well chosen phrases played with strong tone and sharp timing make good music.

. f beats Phrase One enhances Beginning on the ~hird beat and last~fg ;~~~ ~uradding a new shape to THE the circular qualIty of the rhythm th third and fourth beats and fall beTIME. The two "ton" strokes occur on d\our-five' the first and third "de" tween gankogui stroke.s three-four a~dtwo The "ge de" portion of this lead strokes match g~nkogUi strokeI IS_ ?ne artant r~lationship between the second drum phrase articulates the a rmpo gankogui stroke and .the second s~ea~'ent the full phrase into two sh~r~er I suggest two ~aIn ways to I g4 3A beats within the measure are dlvldp motives as s~own in Exam i e.4 ~ .~. beats are grouped asymmetrically (3 1 ed symmetrically (2 + 2), w hI e In -

3B

+

1}.

Lead Drumming for "Basic" Dancing
I have organized the presentation of gboba's music for the section of "baslc" dancing into five phrases. I will describe each phrase, analyze the sources of its rhythmic power, show how variations can be generated, and then present a study which exemplifies the combination of variations. A study which uses all five phrases concludes this section. Since the basic "step" constitutes the bulk of the dance, this section will be relatively long and detailed. Phrase One: The "Ancestral" Phrase Phrase One might be regarded as the "father" of all the other lead drum rhythms because practically all the material in the lead drum part can be construed as a "genetic" development from this phrase. Because of its importance I will analyze Phrase One in more detail than the other phrases. As shown in Example 4.2, this rhythm begins on the third beat, passes through ONE and pushes to resolution on the second beat. The suggested pattern of handedness for the final four bounce-strokes-strong, weak, weak, strong-allows beats one and two always to be played by the stronghand. The dampening of the drum-skin in preparation for the "ton" strokes occurs on the upbeat of the third beat, directly on the third gankogui stroke.

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Ex. 4.3 Hotivic structure of Phrase One. . . . A) beginning on the third beat; B) There are three wa~s to mterp~~p} ~ra~Inn1~gon the second gankogui stroke. beginning on the first beat an egm

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Ex. 4.2 Phrase One.

Ex. 4.4 Three phrasing interpretations

of Phrase One.

l
78
Drum Gahu The Call 79 Phrase One has very effective interactions with the other instruments in the e~semble as shown in Exam~le 4.. :.~ith kaganu it "cuts" strongly, overlap5 PITI~only. o~ one stroke, with kidi It creates overlapping bounce-stroke motives within beats four and one, and with sogo it reinforces the accentuation of the second and fourth beats.
Cankogui

Variations Generated From Phrase One
In this section Iwill discuss the creation of variations using the processes of musical modification outlined above. These variations all are quite closely interrelated; the point is to explore methods of creating subtle modifications that keep the phrase intact, yet rhythmically dynamic. I suggest that you practice these variations as presented and then test your musica~ m~mory by mixing them up according to your own tastes. At the end of this discussion, I present a study, a "composed improvisation;' which exemplifies the process of generating and combining variations on this phrase. Mythinking is that the examples will give you a feeling for the short phrase and the study will help you understand longer passages. Before tackling the study, you should be well practiced on the prior examples. Stroke Substitution

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"De" strokes often replace the "ton" strokes on the third and fourth beats; a "ga" stroke often replaces the "de" stroke on ONE; the two kinds of substitution can be variously combined.

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Ex. 4.5 Phrase One within the polyrhythm.

Phrase One and sogo's motive C are almost identical and you should take care not to use sogo phrases as you develop your lead drumming style. I remember vividly Godwin Agebli's acerbic appraisal of my early attempts at lead drum: "You are playing sogo on lead drum!"
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Ex. 4.7 Stroke substitution

In Phrase One.

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Filling Musical "Space"
The relatively long "spaces" between the' 'ton" strokes in the second half of the measure may be filled. Filling especially is effective when "ga" is played on ONEbecause the descending pitch contour and rhythmic intensification create a feeling of movement from the first motive toward the second motive within the full phrase.

r;=:;:::;::::;:::=::;::;=:;::::;

Ex. 4.6 Phrase One and sogo motive C

80

Drum Gahu The Call 81
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Ex. 4.9 filling with pick-ups. Emptying Musical"Space"

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I Ex. 4.8 Filling the "space" between "ton" strokes.

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Strokeswithin the motive II can be omitted, thus increasing the accentuation of beats one and two and highlighting the important relationship between the second stroke in the gankogui phrase and beat two. The increased musical "space" suggests new interpretations of phrasing. Notice the use of "kpa' strokes to keep the strong-hand busy.

o
Pick-ups to the initial "ton" stroke work w II . various patterns of filling in the upbeats ~f'b~sIt~~~~leY whednrcombined with for variation H b I lt e an our. Watch out e ow; I puts a lot of pressure on THETIME!

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Ex. 4.10

Emptying musical space and rephrasing.

Segmentation

and Repetition

Either of the two motives within the full phrase can be repeated by themselves. Motive I itself can be segmented into two one-stroke figures which might appear simple, yet really make excellent contributions to the polyrhythm.

82

Drum Gabu TbeCall 83
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Metric Modulation Note that these phrases are strongly syncretic. Use them with discretion and the awareness that they verge into the African-American domain . As discussed in THE TIME the duple I quadruple structure of the standard 414 meter of Oahu can be reinterpreted as three cycles of 4:3 or 2:3 cross rhythm or 3/4,6/8,12116 polymeter. Drummers usually interpret such variations as patterned offbeat accentuation (cross rhythm) so I write them within 414 time. The following two examples illustrate 4:3 and 2:3 in their "raw" form, but they usually occur within more artfully constructed phrases. (See Study One, mm. 35,36) .

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Ex. 4. L1 Variations on motive I of Phrase One. When working with motive II be careful ?ow this motive yields two ve e .not to sound overly sogo-ish! Notice Interact with the other parts~~p~~~:I~;~!;~~~~te figures which powerfully I:

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Ex.4.13

Polymetrlc variations on Phrase One.

Ex. 4.12 Variations on motive II a/Phrase One.

Now follows an example of the way in which the lead drummer develops and moves among these musical ideas. As usual, I urge you to vocalize the rhythms before you attempt to drum them: get them in your ear before you try to get your hands to obey your mind! Try to play the study as written and then reorder the material to suit your own muse. Please observe phrasing brackets; repeats are at your discretion; dampening is indicated but may be omitted.

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84

Drum Gahu

The Call
study One: Phrase One Combinations

85

I should point out that rather than creating an easy introductory study, I got rather carried away when composing this "improvisation." Beware: even though it is the first lead drum study, this is challenging stuff! The second and third studies probably are better suited for your first attempts at the lead drum part. The study is divided into passages which focus on specific musical' 'problems" as explained in the word notes below.
Passage I

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The study begins with the statement of Phrase One (mm. 1, 2) followed by rather standard variations. You may wish to repeat measures 1-9 as "warm-up."
Passage II

This intense section focuses on one of my personal "pet licks," variation I of Example 4.9 above. Notice the rhythm of the dampening before and after the second and fourth beats in measures 11 and 12.
Passage III

Here I work on emptying musical "space" by using "kpa" strokes (mm. 13-19). Notice the longer phrase length in measures 15-17: the motive' 'ton ton den" should feel like a call that is answered by the motives "ton ton" (m. 15) and "de ton ton" (m. 17).
Passage IV

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This passage reflects my personal fondness for polymeter, in this case 3/ 4: 4/4 (mm. 19-23). Notice the patterned changes in accentuation with each occurrence of "de ton ton':_THREE-FOUR, TWO-THREE, ONE-TWO, FOURONE. As you repeat this three measure phrase, be careful not to lose your place in THE TIME and take care with your re-entry into the 4/4 "feel,"
Passage V

The sparse two-stroke figure "ge de" is the focus at first (mrn. 26, 27), followed by variations on the "de ge ge den" motive of Phrase One (mm. 28-32).
Passage VI

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This passage features "de ge," the other two-stroke figure found within the "de ge ge den" motive of Phrase One: first, place strong accents on the first and third beats by playing it alone, embellished with a "ga" stroke that functions like a prefixed grace-note (m. 32); then, play in its normal context within the "de ge ge den" motive, but leave the rest of the measure silent (m. 33); finally, explode into cross rhythm with a flurry of two-stroke figures which manifest 4:3,2:3 (mm. 35, 36).
Passage VJ1

'&111

Restore a calmer mood with subtle variations on Phrase One (mm. 37 -40). The rhythm in measure 38 is a favorite of Abraham Adzinyah. Notice the use of "kpa': strokes in measure 40 to suggest the 8 / 8 "feel."

86

Drum Gahu

The Call
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Drum Gahu The Call

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of motive 1lIcan be anticipated in motive timing displacement the rhyt~m le 4 15B is tricky at first but flows II. The pattern of handedness in Examp . smoothly once mastered.
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Ex. 4.15 Subtle modifications of Phrase Two.

Phrase Two

I!

Although this phrase could be classified as a variation on Phrase One, Iprefer to think of it as an independent phrase for several reasons: first. despite its resemblance to Phrase One it does have its own "personality"; second, as an important. full-fledged musical idea it should be played frequently; and third, it generates a host of variations. As shown below Phrase Two is constructed with three brief motives:
repeat ad lib

fficiently to establish its identity as a After Phrase Twohas been repeated s~ d more radically. Let me illustrate coherent musical idea, it can be trans or~e into some detail on how each of the process of modifying a phrase bi, gomg the germinal idea for a passage the three motives in Phrase Twocan ecome of improvisation. . tl I (all letters refer to Example 4.16): A) Look what can be done With mo IV:tl repetition)' B) either of the two it can be repeated bY.itse~~~(seg~s~~o~e~o(:troke substitution, accentua~ion, notes can be played Withdl erelnl.h d with prefixed notes of various kinds dynamics); C) it can be ernbe IS e (ornamentation).
rCpcZlt ad lib

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t

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repeat ad lib ~

Ex. 4.14 Internal structure of Phrase Two.

Immediately, the resemblance of Phrases Two and One is evident: each segment of Phrase Two is found in and might be considered to be derived from Phrase One. Notice how the phrase begins percussively right on the third beat with the two-stroke "inversion" of the kaganu part (motive I); then, there is a great deal of action in and around the fourth beat; finally, the phrase strongly moves toward conclusion on the second beat (motive III). The rhythm of the dampening in motive II is crucial to proper articulation of the phrase.
Variations

~

choose "'0

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ri i

on Phrase Two

Ex. 4.16 Variations on Phrase Two, motiue T.

Although Phrase Twocan generate many variations, in performance I recommend that you "play it straight" for Some time before using it as the basis of far-flung permutations! Two kinds of subtle modification are particularly effective: first. any or all of the three motives can be ornamented with prefixed "ge" strokes (Example 4.15A); and second, illustrating the process of

. II can enerate a host of effective' 'licks" As shown in Example 4.17, motive . n a~d re etitlon: B)ornamentation; C) using the processes of A)se~men~1O tuaiion. and 0) timing displacestroke substitution, dynamiCs an a.ccen merit. rephrasing and metric modulation.
r

90

Drum Gahu

The Call Study Two: Phrases One and Two in Combination

91

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II)

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ad lib

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Ex.4.17 Variations on Phrase Two, motive II.

Variations based on motive IIIalready have been presented in Examples 4.12 and 4.13, above. As exemplified in the following short study, Phrases One and Two work together very well. The pattern to the repetitions-three occurrences of Phrase One followed by one occurrence of Phrase Two-is very characteristic of Ewe drumming style and creates a feeling of call-and-response: Phrase One asks a question and repeats it twice before the answer is supplied by Phrase Two.Notice the new variation on Phrase One in measures 7 -8 and the embellished version of Phrase Two in measures 9-10. Study Two is particularly worthwhile to master toward the beginning of your learning of the gboba part.

.,
92
Phrase Three Although this phrase also might be considered as another variation on PhraseOne, I prefer to consider it an independent phrase because like Phrase Two,.1) it is important and should be used frequently; 2) it has its own muslcal.ch.ara~ter; and 3) it is the seminal idea for many related' 'licks." The distinctive feature of PhraseThree and its variations is the crescendo "roll" within the fourth beat. As shown in Example 4.18, Phrases One and Three nearly are identical; notice, however, that in PhraseThree the bouncestroke on O~~,."be," is the third note in a four-stroke roll, not a prominent. Iy accente~ Initial stroke, "de." In other words, whereas PhraseOnecrisply attacks the first beat Phrase Three anticipates it and "flows" uninterrupted toward resolution on the second beat.

Drum Gahu

The Call

93

[QJ Six-stroke

roll

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©TC:l-Strokc roll

b£_.~.ad€'.1~r

p f -==:::'

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3'" d~_ '"'

ho<.re.(,e.~'_ ""r'_.b~,9" dej e

Ex. 4.20 Minimum, medium and maximum length rolHng figures.

: T;:,

Ex. 4.18 Comparison of Phrases One and Three.

"Phrasing through the low bell" is a vital aspect of Phrase Three: all variations contain kidl-Ilke motives that begin within the fourth beat and continue without interruption through gankogui stroke one. Although they would not express it in this way, Ewedrummers often enhance the impact of "phrasing over the bar line" by allowing the final note in the rolling figure within the fourth beat to sustain through ONE,an effect which can be shown in notation with a tie.

Variations on Phrase Three You can vary.Phrase Three.by working "backwards" from ONEthrough the ~ourth and third beats, addmg ever-lengthening rolls which alwaysculminate I~ a ca~~nce o~ the second beat with the figure "ge den." In other words, you fill the space that precedes and leads to the motive within the first beat.
play either or both repeal ad lib

II F1LL GOAL

Ex. 4.21 Phrasing through the low bell.

:pf~-~f

Ex. 4. t 9 Structure of variations on Phrase Three.

~he crescen~~ rolls can ~e of various length. Example 4.20 illustrates rolling flgures of mminum. medium and maximum length. As you develop your Own lead drum style, I recommend that you use the six-stroke roll.

As shown in Study Three, the sequential combination of PhrasesThree and Two is very effective. Study Three provides a brief model of their combination: the possibilities are endless. Again, notice the four measure call-aridresponse form that was used in Study Two-three repetitions of PhraseThree arejuxtaposed against one appearance of PhraseTwo.Only in measures 1- 4 are strokes played on ONE;the other material puts powerful tension on that "strongest" of moments within THETIME. Pleaseobserve crescendo, accentuation, phrasing, dampening and repeat markings.

..,
94 Drum Gahu
Phrase Four

The Call

95

Study Three: Combination of Phrases Three and Two

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Several characteristics set Phrase four apart from the other lead drum rhythms including 1) duration; 2) motivic structure; and S) manner of use. Unlike the other phrases, Phrase four is a relatively long, pre-composed rhythm which is inserted intact into the lead drum part. As a set element in his musical "vocabulary," the lead drummer usually plays it without much modification. This phrase was a favorite of Abraham Adzinyah when I studied with him at Wesleyan University in the early 1970s. As shown in Example 4.22, Phrase Four spans four cycles of the gankogui phrase and can be divided into three relatively long motives. MotiveI is a long rolling motive that begins on the fourth gankogui stroke-the "and" of the third beat-and pushes to ONE;as shown by the brackets the roll itself can be parsed into two figures: the four-stroke roll "he re be ge," followed by a three-stroke figure' 'de ge den:' Motive II contains three occurrences of the three-stroke figure "de ge den." MotiveIIIcan be any figure that begins on the fourth beat and pushes to conclusion on the second beat of the next measure. Notice the effective use of silence in this phrase.

repeat ad lib

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Ex.4.22

Phrase Four.

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Motive I boldly contrasts with other phrases in terms of density and shape. The three figures in motive II,which can be interpreted as extensions of the final three strokes of motive L create suspense, feel unresolved and call for a concluding passage: the successive "de ge den" figures explore four different rhythmic settings within THETIME.Motive III provides a satisfying resolution to the whole phrase by linking the opening idea=a very long roll-to the very typical "de ge den" figure found so frequently in the lead drum part. Not only does the final figure confer a sense of closure, but it also allows a seamless transition to other material.

96

Drum Gahu
1l

The Call
111

97

Because of its use of "space," PhraseFour provides a good opportunity to go into detail about the use of' 'kpa strokes. As mentioned above, drummers use "kpa' strokes to frame their part within THETIMEand occasionally drop some rhythmic' 'bombs" in the process. Compare the two versions of this phrase shown in Examples 4.22 and 4.23: both place powerfully accented "kpa" strokes on the third beats of measures one and three, thus freezing the flow of time for an instant and setting up the subsequent rolling figures, but in Example 4.22 the other "kpa" strokes manifest the "feel" of the gankogui's first high-bell stroke, while in Example 4.23 they manifest the beats of the double-time 8/8 meter. As you play this phrase, use the "kpa strokes that precede the long rolls to orient yourself within THETIME and to make the transition into Phrase Four; then vary the timing of other' 'kpa' strokes to create a swinging "feel,"

Ex, 4_24 Motivic structure of Phrase Five, Although the three motives can be played in sequence with no internal repeats, it is more common to build rhythmic tension by repeating and modifying motives I and II; once sufficient suspense has been created, it is resolved by the concluding motive and a return to PhraseOne material. Not only do Phrase Five "licks" have variable length and internal structure, they can begin on any beat; like almost all lead drum phrases, however, they push toward resolution on the second beat, I view PhraseFive as exciting "raw material" for a rich variety of genetically related phrases, The following material is based on African usage but definitely is strongly influenced by the analytic process. Example 4.25 shows five phrases formed by joining motives I and II of Phrase Five. Each phrase can be repeated by itself combined with another phrase and repeated, or linked in a multimetric chain of ever-changing phrases. Above the bracket. I have indicated the implicit meter of each phrase,
2/8,

,---------,
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2/8

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Phrase Five

[6]
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Ex_ 4.23 Alternate placement of "kpa" strokes in Phrase four,
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2/4,4/8
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These rhythms seem to be characteristic of the style of Gahu played in Godwin Agbeli's home town, Aflao. located right at the border of Ghana and Togo. I encountered them in 1976 during a performance of Gahu in his village, Kopfeyia, and was "blown away" by their use of fast rolls, metric modulation and shifting motivic structure. These are intense challenging phrases: enjoy! Phrases of this type consist of three motives: an opening, a middle and a conclusion. As shown in Example 4.24, the phrases begin with a rolling figure whose first stroke usually is right on any of the four beats (motive I). Onto this rolling figure is attached a series of' 'det" strokes timed to the onbeats and upbeats (motive II). As discussed below, these two motives usually are repeated and modified as a pair before the rhythm is ended with a motive that cadences to TWO.The measure-long version of the phrase shown in Example 4.24 illustrates this motivic structure,

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3/4. 6/8

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f
3/4,6/8

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Ex. 4.25 Phrase five variations of different lengths.

98

Drum Gahu

The Call

99

Motives Band 0 invoke the power of metric modulation. As shown in Example 4.26A, the "he re be ge den" figures establish a 2:3 cross rhythm against the 414 beats (6/8: 414 polymeter) which repeats four times over the span of three 414 measures; Example 4.26B shows the complete cycle of a 3/4 rhythm within 4 14 time. The abstract structure of the cross rhythm is shown in Example 4.26C; notice that the accented notes in figure A bisect the ~otted-quarter notes in figure C. As is my habit in situations of cross rhythm, figures A and B are beamed to the phrase, not the beat, in order to visually convey the rhythmic tension.
repeat ad lib

Study Four provides more work on Phrase Five material. Because it is so full of technically demanding rolls and "pressurized" rhythmic relationships, perhaps a caution about musicianship is in order here. An indispensable skill in lead drumming is the ability to reckon the elapse of time by listening to the gankogui phrase; the lead drummer must know where he is within THE TlME- not simply the measure-to be able to play accurately and with feeling. Never is it sufficient to know a phrase by itself; you must learn it polyrhythmically as a duet with the gankogui phrase and as one element in an interactive, multi-part ensemble texture. The study is divided into passages, as follows.
Passage I

:;..:>

>

>

Begin with Phrase One-check phrasing bracket-(m. I); then play the standard 3/4 variation (mm. 2-4). I advise you to repeat the passage several times.
Passage II

,

I

II

II

I

Ex. 4.26 Polymeter and cross rhythm in Phrase Five. During the 1976 performance in Aflao, the common Phrase Five "licks" were "he re be ge det det det de," "he re be ge de," and "he re be ge det de" (Examples 4.25 0, Band C, respectively) but many variations on these ideas are possible. As shown in Example 4.27, the lead drummer can play motives that imply different meters one after the other.

Begin with a Phrase One variation (m. 5) and then launch into a Phrase Five variation that begins multimetrically-31 4,2/4,2/4, 2/4-(mm. 6-8) and ends with an unusual five beat phrase (mm. 8, 9). Passage III Begin with two Phrase One variations (mm. 10, 11); then play five 3/8 figures, followed by three "hot 2/4 licks" phrased right through beats one and three (mm. 12 -15). Notice how the intense rolls are set up by the "kpa' strokes in measure 11.
Passage IV

Begin with a sparse Phrase One variation in contrast to the previous dense passage. After a "kpa" stroke on beat three to frame THE TIME play another multlmetrlc phrase-2/4, 2/4, 3/8, 3/8, 2/8, 2/8, 3/8, 2/8, 3/8-that leads back to the beginning of the entire study.

Study Four: Phrase Five Combinations
repeat ad lib

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Ex. 4.27 Multimetrlc variations on Phrase Five.

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100
[il]

Drum Gahu

The Call

101

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ad lib

Combining All Five Phrases
To conclude this section, I present a final study that demonstrates the overall process of improvisation on lead drum for the section of "basic" dancing in Oahu. Although I have organized the preceding presentation of the lead drum part into a set of discrete phrases, please do not be misled about the nature of the improvisatory process: the drummer has "pet licks" for his ready use, but he concentrates on playing with THE TIME and THE RESPONSE. hrases, P in other words, are generated by musical process. These are the overall qualities of the lead drum part that are evident in this study: 1. A great deal of the action occurs within the fourth and first beats, culminating in a cadence on the second beat. 2. Accents repeatedly occur on the third, fourth and first beats, in that order. 3. Rolling motives are characteristic. 4. A sparse, quiet passage tends to follow a dense loud passage. 5. Action occurs in all positions within the measure and the location of accents shifts continuously. 6. Phrase lengths and the location of phrases frequently change thus enhancing the circularity of the polyrhythm and the forward drive of THE TIME. 7. Rhythms frequently explore cross rhythm and polymeter. Although it may be ironic and contradictory for me to say this, I caution you to beware of reliance on notation; prepare your mind and body for the spontaneous creative act with lots of study and practice but in performancejust "flow" and let the instrument play itself.

®

repeat ad

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102

Drum Gahu study Five: Combining All Five Phrases

The Call

103

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The Call
104 Drum Gabu
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105

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106

Drum Gahu

The Call Lead Drum Signals to Dancers

107

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As discussed in the INTRODUCTION, relatively long periods of the basic "step" are leavened with brief, intense dance variations. Below, I present three such variations which I learned from Freeman Donkor and Godwin Agbeli. The form should be quickly grasped: play material for the basic' 'step" for a long time; go to the variation of your choice; return to basic dance material; go to the variation of your choice; and so forth. The form can be represented-AVI AV2 AV3-with A being drumming for the basic step and Vl . V2, and V3 being the three variations. Each variation ends with the dancers intensifying their movements by lowering themselves closer to the ground. It is during this period of the dance that the lead drum "lays back" and the other players, especially the sogo player, take the responsibility for generating rhythmic excitement. The variations can be arranged in any order, the movements and rhythms can be transformed, and new variations often are created. Gahu remains open to creative reinterpretation; it was a mark of pride with Godwin Agbeli never to arrange the piece the same way twice! Indeed, that is one of my justifications for presenting the piece in this format knowing as I do that in so doing distortions are inevitable. Over the years of teaching dance classes, I have nicknamed the three variations, "Get Down;' "Twist Smile and Flirt;' and "Too Hot to Handle:' For each variation, I present THE CALL of the lead drum, including suggestions for improvisation, and THE RESPONSE the sogo and kidi. of

repeat ad lib

Dance Variation One: "Get Down" "Get Down" features a short burst of more vigorous movement which provides a pleasing contrast to the lyrical. smooth, light basic dance "step." Dancers literally and figuratively "get down," that is, they lower themselves closer to the ground and intensify their hip and arm movements.' When the intensity is sufficient, the pressure and tension are released as the dancers raise up, often lifting their arms above their shoulders with a "Hallelujah!" feeling for the duration of one cycle of the gankogui phrase, before resuming the normal Gahu .'step" on ONEof the next gankogui phrase. These changes in the dance are executed upon musical cue from the lead drummer. In fact, while the dancers are "down," the entire drum ensemble matches their increased energy output with intensified pressure on THE TIME. As shown in Example 4.28, the lead drum part has four sections: first. a series of three-stroke rolling figures which signal the dancers to "Listen! Get Ready!" (mm . .3, 4); second, the cue to "Get Down!" (mm. 5, 6); third, the drumming while they are down (mm. 6-10); and fourth, the cue to "Come Up!" (mm. 11, 12); the example begins and ends with Phrase One for normal dancing (mm. L 2).

repeat ad lib

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1

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108

Drum Gahu

The Call

109

rc:>eat ad lib

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The signal to "Get Down" provides an interesting example of "true" drum language, that is, the representation of spoken language on the drum. The music and language of the cue are as follows:

1

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F
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~, d.,

~14 ii 6ibn~t4t~
d. d,<.~. J~ 01'.1",I~ d.~. ,1. ,1',1" d. ~~ ".~ d',j" J.

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Ex.4.29

Language {or the dancers' cue to "Get Down:'

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,

Ex. 4.28 Dance Variation One: "Ger Down!"

I was taught this phrase by Godwin Agbeli who explained the meaning of the vernacular expression, "GbeJidohoho woa bli godo godo" as follows: " 'Agbelido' is the hole from which the cassava is plucked. After the farmers have harvested the cassava, they weed the place again and then plant corn there. The corn grows very well.' '5 This expression, it seems to me, is meant to be understood both literally, as instruction for proper agricultural practice, and figuratively, as a proverb that emphasizes the cyclical continuity of life. Immediately after the cue to "Get Down:' the lead drummer plays a series of forcefully accented "dza" strokes on the beats; upbeat fills with "kpa" strokes are optional. The dancers "Get Down" on his first "dza" and while they perform their intensified dancing, the response drums take over the role of primary improvisor: this is their chance to "Get down!" The lead drum player usually contents himself with occasional rolling motives within the second and fourth beats (mm. 8, 9), but is free to add more "hot licks" in order to ensure that the instrumental music properly inspires the dance. When the lead drummer feels that this section is sufficient, he plays the cue to "Come Up" (mm. 11, 12). It begins with a series of "dza" strokes on the first four strokes of the gankogui phrase and the fourth beat (motive I) followed by bounce-strokes timed to the 2:3 (6/8: 314) cross rhythm over the first beats (motive II) and ends with any appropriate motive from the Phrase One group (motive III). I learned this version of "Get Down," with its fancy cues to "Get Down" and "Come Up:' from Godwin AgbeJi; it probably represents an Aflao style. Many performing groups, notably the Ghana National Dance Ensemble and the Wesleyan Drum Ensemble, play the variation as shown in Example 4.30: I believe this is the Anlo Ewe style prevalent in towns such as AnloAfiadenylgba and Anyako.

110
r~~~~;i-~if,UrCs i
rl"f'C.lt ad lib

Drum Gahu

The Call

III

TCPC2I1

ad

lib

f
~QQ\<;o:d.c__

df;!_~Qh~('<:,>.h"'\Q.

de

3"!:d('..,

Ij'(Q.....

d2r~-.

The entire lead drum part for this dance variation is shown in Example 4.32. As arranged by my teachers at Wesleyan and in Africa, the lead drummer repeats the theme with variations ad libitum until he cues the dancers to "Get Down and Twist" by playing a series of onbeat "dza" strokes; at this point the sogo and kidi return to their normal rhythms and improvise intensely (m. 4). In my classes, I alert the dancers that they are about to "Get Down" by repeating the second figure in the theme (mm. 2, 3), before sounding the "dza" strokes. The cues to "Raise Up" and "Resume Normal Dancing" are identical to Dance Variation One (6-9).

Ex. 4.30

Alternate

cues to "Oet Down"

and "Raise Up."
rcpc.at ad lib

Dance Variation Two: "Twist, Smile. Flirt"

j
I have nicknamed this variation' Twist, Smile, Flirt" because that isjust what the dancers are supposed to do! The dance variation has three parts-A: "Twist, Smile, Flirt" B: "Get Down and Show Off" and C: "Raise Up." In part A, the dancers place their hands on their hips and twist; as they turn inward they lower down and flirtatiously smile at another dancer; as they turn outward they raise up, feigning disinterest. In part B, they "Get Down" as in Dance Variation One and "Show Off" with more strenuous twists. Part C is identical to the "Raise Up" section of Dance Variation One. The lead drum cue for Dance Variation Two is a short motive within the first two beats of the measure to which the sogo and kidi respond with a motive of their own; their bounce-stroke figure can be unornamented (B1)or ornamented (B2).

t
II

j
d~a..,

jd'LQ..,

j
dz.c" ...

~I
[ Resume regular dancing

...~LeaddTum

1"-1
J~ ~~~

"r--"'1
d.,
drums --------,

..

..
CD

r-r
d'j~'"

",........ .. ...
J~ j'_
1

repeat

ad lib

!

[ill Response

3"
I_

--

k;_

k ..

- -play either or both

<1l
k, _

I ~j
J.
Ex. 4.32
_

J
~
jo

J

l'

j
d.~

~

r
+"

r
-t,

l~
J.
;j0

I

Regular

danCing

repeat

ad lib

~.

j

r
+,

r
+,

II

ck~

Lead drum part for 'Twist,

Smile, flirt"

(Agbeli-style

signal to "Raise Up";

~
The theme to "Twist, Smile and Flirt" can be modified and developed to make the music more enjoyable. Example 4.32 contains some possibilities. Variations A-C and the cue to "Get Down" are ornamented, whereas variations D and E are sparse and interact powerfully with the response part.

Ex. 4.31

CaU-and-response

in "Twist, Smile and flirt."

112
r-:=:-.-~-------'
I

Drum Gahu
I

The Call
Dance Variation Three: "Too not To ttendte"

113

L"::_i

T....;st. Srr,ilc and Flirt

t
~
~-

r

~~§a~~"ffJt;, ':""(11 .~;-{

This is the only section of Gahu in which there is physical contact between dancers. First, the dancers make the circle smaller and then each dancer teasingly gestures backward and forward with his right arm, bringing his hand near to the buttocks of the dancer in front of him in a movement that says, "Wow! This is too hot to handle!" Upon cue from the lead drummer, dancers form an unbroken circle of hip-pumping humanity and "Get Down." The familiar cue to "Raise Up" directs the dancers to release their grip and return the circle to its normal size. In the drum and dance ensembles of which I was a member at Wesleyan University and in Africa there was no special signal for making the circle smaller. When I began teaching in the Boston area in 1979, however, I added a brief section (passage I in Example 4.35) in order to clarify the duration required to make the circle smaller and to indicate precisely when the arm gestures should begin. The lead drum part for this variation is shown in Example 4.35. The lead drummer signals the dancers to angle themselves inward with a powerful cross rhythm figure (4:3,2:3) that is repeated until the circle is small (I). In the main theme, "dza dza" goes with the backward arm gesture while "de ge den" goes with the forward arm gesture (II). As I have arranged the variation, the drummer cues the dancers to "Get Down" (III) by intensifying the rhythm with a four-stroke roll (beat four, mm. 6, 7) and a fill ("and-two;' m. 7). (In my teachers' arrangements, the "dza" strokes alone tell the dancers to hold waists and get down.) The drumming is the same as in the other two dance variations from this point on. Note the new variation for the basic Gahu "step" in measure 10. Clever sogo and kidi players always are free to change their rhythms in response to the lead drum part. Spontaneous creativity within the guidelines set by tradition is the rule and in this spirit I provide' 'cool" (m. 1) and' 'hot" (m. 2) versions of the response for this variation.

G Lead drum

repeat ad lib

repeat ad l.b

W-Ja&i~ firil
Get RCilc:l!_j ~ I Rc~);rnc norr;'l<l\ d.l:lc.~

,---, I

em Response

- d;

drums

II:
I

Ex, 4.33 Variations on drumming for "Twist, Smile, Flirt" (alternate signal
to "Raise Up").

t:x_ 4.34

Call·and-response in "Tho Hot 1b Hand/e."

114
---~

Drum Gahu
circle smotlcr
._.~ _ ___J

The Call Lead Drumming: The Kinka Section

I 15

I

;ll,I~C

:

__________

I
t , '~

IV: holJ

""<lists, Get DOWi1!

",

-ca r ad

As outlined in the INTRODUCTION, section of dance inspired by the piece a called Kinka often is imbedded in the middle of staged performances of Oahu. After an introductory figure bridges the shift from the communal circle of Oahu to the partnered format of Kinka, there are three variations which I have nicknamed A)''Partner;" B) "Partner- Neighbor;" and C) "Dance With Everyone:' Let me quickly outline the dance sequence; please realize that creative choreographers can "set" the dance in any number of ways: this is the very plain version I use at Tufts and with the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society. During the transition, dancers turn to face their partners, (Folkloric dance companies usually prefer to have an even number of male and female dancers and at this point it is the females who turn to face the males: in my classes at Tufts, however, the students prefer an androgynous, non-sex based plan to the choreography: it works wonderfully, thus demonstrating the resilience of African tradition!) In "Partner" the couples face each other and perform the distinctive Ewe upper torso contraction -expanslon movement as they step first toward the right and then toward the left. In "PartnerNeighbor" the couples continue the torso movement, but first face their partner and then turn and face their neighbor. In "Dance with Everyone" half the group (the males in African folkloric groups) dance in place with their backs toward the center of the circle, while the other half skips from person to person around the circle's perimeter. In each of these variations, the accented dancer's movements fall on beats three, fOUL and one, in that order. The Kinka section ends with a resumption of the basic Oahu' 'step:' NowIwill present the drumming music. Please note that throughout the Kinka section the lead drummer changes from two stick technique and instead uses a stick in his strong-hand and a bare weak-hand. furthermore, in many groups the lead drum part is played on atslmevu. rather than gboba: this is understandable since atsimevu is the proper lead drum for Kinka.
Transition to Kinka: "Turn to Face Your Partners
II

Tosignal the transition the lead drummer plays a three-stroke roll ending on the beat and the sago and kidi players respond with onbeat bounce-strokes.
~Leaddrum repc~ ad lib

Ex. 4.35 Lead drum part in 'Too Hot to Handle."

I]] Response drums Ex. 4.36 Call-and-response

for the Transition

to Kinka.

l
116
Dance with Your Partner The first sequence in the Kinka section exemplifies a form of interaction between drums which is absolutely characteristic of Ewe percussion ensemble music: the lead drum player sounds a "call" to which the sogo and kidi provide the "response." In this case, the "call" consists of three repetitions of a motive timed to the first three strokes of the gankogui phrase; the "response" simply is four bounce-strokes on the flow of eighth-notes within the third and fourth beats. As is typical in Ewe drumming, the lead drum outlines the response with high-pitched "dzl" strokes. In Example 4.37 measure 3 should be repeated many times before the main theme of the variation is restated.
[9 Lead drum
Call

Drum Gahu

The Call
rcpeal several

I 17
!~ 111<.:5

t
m
ret-cat

JII
scvc r a' n-ucs

,_c_.c _
I

hFi@i~;='- '~~t:=
Ex. 4.38
Variations on the call for "Dance with Your Partner,"

repeat ad lib _l

~"'.YI _,.,....,. _~ ~ ~

.-_Ro~,po_n_"' _

__tt--_.,

J

I

[]]Response

drums

Dance With Your Partner and Your IYeighbor
Call-and-response for "Dance With Your Partner."

Ex. 4.37

There is a wealth of improvised material for each and every call-and-response theme in Kinka. Example 4.38 provides a "taste" of what can be done with this theme.

As I have arranged it, the lead drum player signals the transition to "PartnerNeighbor" with a three-motive phrase. Watch out for motive I: inexperienced players often experience "beat turn-around" (hear the upbeat as onbeat) during this seemingly innocent phrase; in some arrangements of Gahu this phrase is repeated many times as dancers circle in opposite directions, weaving in and out as they go. Motives I and II tell the dancers to' 'Get Ready" while motive III is the final cue before the "Partner-Neighbor" sequence begins.

r-r-i

1 stick, 1 hand

I

Dance ".... Partner! ith

0~
I,

~~

I

~ JII
repeat ad lib

11i37

C

[§m tZJi15€i J
d,2_.r",

o

[ill

rvpcet ad

E~l

J
.>

~
d L,/

t~
Ex. 4.39
Transition to "Partner-Neighbor."

d L;-

118

Drum Gahu

The Call

119

The theme for the "Partner- Neighbor" dance itself is a wonderfully offbeat phrase. Whereas in "Dance with Your Partner" the response interlocks with the call, in this variation the response overlaps the lead drum's call: sogo and kidi play bounce-strokes with gboba's "de and gi" strokes, press-strokes with atslmevu's "ga" strokes.
GJCall

I>

II,.

~
.:\" (j"

,.....
~~
f

Beg-n

""!l'

>

~"""'I ,_,
3a

r(!pca~ ad lib

"'.

~
CEJR~!ip0n!'C

-

d.

,ja

.3'

d~

8"

::1.~

,

!l'

II

k; - d .. _ j:

t".

ct;

...........

-

d~

3"
\

,",'

d.

-c
b -J;

Ex.4.42

Motlvlc structure

of 'Partner-Neighbor."

k;-

J, - ~;

Improvisation in this variation tends to concentrate on segmentation I repetition, emptying musical space and offbeat timing on the second and fourth pulses within beats four and one. Below are a few suggestions.

Ex. 4.40

Call-and-response

in "Partner-Neighbor,"

This phrase puts a great deal of pressure on THE TIME. As shown in Example 4.41, this rhythm' 'brings out" mode three of the gankogui phrase. (See Example 2.11(, above.) Notice how it strengthens the upbeat third, fourth and fifth gankogui strokes and then approaches the second gankogui with three highly offbeat strokes beginning on the sixteenth pulse of the measure. This type of rhythmic thinking is more characteristic of Kinka than Oahu.

lID a g bBJl.;d
r("peal ad lib

~

J
!

T--~II
repeat ad lib

repeat

~

Cankogut

Phrase:

mode 3 Begin

repeat ad lib

tililii d till
t~
ad lib

ad lib

!
>
repeat

([I

,('peat

ad lib

Ex.4.41

Offbeat structure

of "Partner-Neighbor."

I recommend thinking of the phrase's motivic structure in either of two ways, yielding four distinct motives which can be repeated and modified in lrnprovised performance.

Ex. 4.43

Variations

In "Partner-Neighbor."

l
120 "Dance
With

Drum Gahu Everyone"
;}J

The Call
repeat ad E."

121

I

I

Compared to "Partner- Neighbor:' the drumming in' 'Dance With Everyone" is very onbeat. As shown in Example 4,44, the lead drum' 'calls" within the third and fourth beats while sogo and kidi "respond" within the first two beats. The incomplete bracket in the first measure indicates the last notes of ,'Partner -Neigh bor,"

i~

te~al

ad lib

~

1

t

.,
Ex. 4.45 Improvisation in "Dance With Everyone."

2J Lead drum
Partncr-Nc:is._hbor -'-1

r

Dance: with Everyone

repeat ad lib

~~
tJ~
~d

ill

-.
~

I

~
,jd

>~

0

4

d.+

J<C]i

d."

+"

I

a'
,k:; - r ,'-d;

Tosignal the end of the Kinka section, the lead drummer moves back to the gboba, reverts to two-stick technique and simply states the main lead drum phrase of Oahu. "ton ton de ge ge den."
+,

d

Q

~I

,.i."

B Rl~~PG~SC drums

-

Ex,

4.44 Call-and-response In "Dance With Everyone."

-

-----,

The Ending
The drumming and dancing of Gahu end on cue from the lead drummer. Example 4.46 shows "The Ending" favored by Godwin AgbeJi during my period of study with him in the mid-1970s: there are two phrases connected by a transition. The' 'Holding Pattern" alerts the dancers that the end is near and is repeated ad libitum at the discretion of the lead drummer; the "Ending Signal" brings the drumming and dancing to its finish. Mr. AgbeJi usually begins with the transition phrase.

-

--

A comparison of the following rich material with the relatively limited scope for improvisation on "Partner-Neighbor" reveals an interesting truth about Ewe drumming: a sparse response phrase gives the lead drummer more "space" to create interesting improvisation. Variation C was another favorite of Abraham Adzinyah during the early 1970s. Variations D- F provide good practice in the process of emptying musical space.

L Hutding Pal!~rn

]

iTr;:msition

(f)

repeal

ad

li':l

tx,

4.46 The ending sequence for Oahu.

122

Drum Gahu

The Call

123

Analysis of these rhythms can help reveal their power. Notice the similarity between "The Transition" and the axatse phrase: the phrase generates forward momentum, it pushes toward ONE.

Finally the "Ending Signal" itself can be parsed into two motives: the first flows with the first three strokes of the gankogui phrase and the second strongly cadences to ONE.

o

Lead drum:

transition

in Ending

-----r

J
I,

Ex. 4.50 Ending: final Cue. Ex. 4.47 Ending: transition phrase. Accentuation within the' 'Holding Pattern" can be varied by placing dynamic accents on either the "ton" or the "de" strokes, Motives II and III are identical but fall differently within the cycling gankogui rhythm, thus preparing for the next repetition of the full phrase, In Example 4.4B accents are placed on the "de" strokes, in Example 4.49 accents are placed on the "ton" strokes.
rrj1('-ilt ad lih

Conclusion
I have presented a great deal of material for the lead drum part because I want this book to be valuable for musicians of a wide range of ability and experience. Please do not be intimidated! Perhaps I can remind you again that a few well chosen, clearly articulated phrases, played with good tone and volume make a valuable contribution to the overall polyrhythm of Gahu. Why not strive to be a powerful, yet understated lead drummer who understands the sources of Oahu's rhythmic beauty and is sensitive to the contribution of all the instruments in the ensemble? Practice the basic versions of the five phrases until you can move among them comfortably and then gradually explore the variations. Combine memorization of specific "licks" with study of the process of improvisation, for this will help your musical memory and give your playing spontaneity. Fluency with the drum-stroke syllables is extremely helpful. Above all, practice with a tape recording of the gankogui phrase and work with other musicians: the rhythms only come to life in the context of polyrhythm.

Ex. 4.48 Ending: motivic structure

of the "Holding

Pattern."

Appreciation of the "Holding Pattern" can be enriched by feeling it in terms oftheBIBbeats. Notice the asymmetrical grouping-(4 + 1) + (4 + 2) + (4 + I)-of the sixteen elghth-notes. schematically presented in Example 4.49B below. Example 4.49A shows articulation of the BIB beats with' 'kpa' strokes and accentuation of the "ton" strokes.
[6] Lend
y
drum: accent on "tor." strokes
t ,~~ __ ~ __ ~ __ ~ __ ~~ ~~

:-cpeat ad lib
~I

>

:>

>

>

>

>

[ill Additive

grouping

of strokes.

Ex. 4.49 Ending: additive treatment of 8 / 8 time in the "Holding Pattern."

Conclusion

125

CHAPTER 5

CONCLUSION
! '\
:1

This chapter has three sections. First, I review key points about the nature of Ewe polyrhythmic drum ensemble music, the three sections of the percussion ensemble, the techniques of musical modification, and the aesthetic values to strive for when playing Gahu. Second, I reiterate key ideas involved in learning this music. Finally, I briefly discuss values inherent in this musical tradition.

Review
The Nature of the Music Because you probably are working with this book on your own in solitude, it may be worthwhile to re-emphasize the intensely social nature of this musical idiom. Gahu, above all. is polyrhythmic music, a beautifully integrated polyphonic whole created by many distinct and contrasting phrases played simultaneously. Although I have discussed variation in great detail. please remember that personal expression should serve to enliven the other parts; rather than maintaining an inward concentration, try to hear the whole. The ensemble becomes a feedback network: each part asserts its musical character through repetition and variation, but remains stable enough to be influenced by the others. Since the whole and its parts seem designed to be perceived in a variety of interpretations, what you play may differ significantly from what you hear. Good performance will sound the musical mobile, enabling performers and listeners to construct their own interpretation of its unified shape. The Sections of the Ensemble My division of Oahu's percussion ensemble music into three sections, THE TIME, THE RESPONSE,and THE CALL, corresponds to the distinct musical functions of the instruments within each category. THE TIME consists of the rhythms of the gankoguL the optional atoke. axatse and kaganu. Their parts establish the fundamental rhythmic structure of Gahu, the musical temporal context within which the other parts occur. The gankogui part contains the most important musical idea in the piece: the asymmetrical shaping of musical time (3 + 4 + 4 + 2 + 3) with its counter-valent symmetrical divisions (sixteen pulses, four beats) and the consequent progression from tension (offbeatness) to resolution (onbeatness) within each phrase. In addition, the part demarcates the piece's fundamental phrase length (a 414 measure), suggests the presence of cross rhythm (2:3, 4:3) and polymeter (3/4,12/16,6/8), and frames the impor124

i! I

II
"

tant offbeat moments within the measure (beats two and four, pulses two and four within each beat). The gankogui part is the primary timing referent for all other performance actions: all parts are conceived in polyrhythm with the bell. Finally, the positive ambiguity of interpretation so fundamental to the music's stable, yet dynamic quality is a function of the perceptual indeterminacy caused by its unvarying, continuous repetition. The axatse part articulates the most important mode of the gankogui phrase, and manifests the polyrhythm between the gankogui and the beats. The kaganu part energizes Oahu's rhythm by accenting the upbeats and increasing the density of the overall texture. The primacy of the bell part notwithstanding, all other parts acquire musical meaning in polyrhythrn with the composite of the gankogui and kaganu parts. The optional atoke part sounds the four beats of the underlying meter. Meter refers to the implicit ordering of musical time: experienced players rarely are aware of meter, but it can be called into consciousness to steady the time or provide inspiration. Dimensions of meter include measure (time span), beats with relatively strong and weak accent (downbeat, onbeat. upbeat, offbeat), and a set of pulses within the time span. There is one constant primary meter ("African 4/4"), which implies several counter meters (3/4,12116,6/8). THE RESPONSE refers collectively to the sago, kidi and kaganu parts. Their three-way conversation is compelling in its own right, especially considering the expected improvisations on sogo and kidi. The polyrhythm created by the simultaneous playing of THE RESPONSEand THE TIME definitely is musically self-sufficient, a dynamic texture which exists alongside the lead drum part: the lead drummer may choose to interact with the THE TIME and / or THE RESPONSE wholes. with any of the individual parts, or to conas struct his own parallel musical field. Considered separately, the sago and kidi parts have important functions as well. The sogo part accents the second and fourth beats within each cycle of the gankogui phrase, increases the tension inherent in the timing of gankogui stroke two, and reinforces the feeling of resolution in gankogui strokes five and one. The kidi part enhances the feeling of movement from upbeat to onbeat and from bell stroke to on beat, sets up an intense interaction with the kaganu part, and has a self-propelling dialogue between its bounce- and press-stroke figures. All three parts in THE RESPONSE strongly contribute to the music's indeterminacy 1 positive ambiguity by virtue of their staggered placement in relation to each other and the gankogui phrase. THE CALL. of course, refers to the lead drum part (gboba and/or atsimevu), In comparison to the basically repetitive nature of the other parts, THE CALL requires extensive spontaneous musical decision-making: given an understanding of A) his musical role within the ensemble; B) his choreographic role with the dancers; and C) his dramatic role as the leader of the overall performance, the lead drummer fashions his part afresh with each performance. His resources include traditional phrases as well as an intuitive grasp of the process of generating stylistically appropriate and often

.I

126

Drum Gahu

Conclusion

1'17

original variations, phrases which themselves can become part of the preset tradition. In his dramatic role he controls the pacing of the performance and encourages the involvement of all present; in his choreographic role he cues the dancers for their variations and inspires their lively performance; in his musical role he reveals the depth of Oahu's rhythm by entering into dialogue with each part and shaping his own line according to the protean quality of Oahu's meter. Techniques of Musical MOdification In the discussions of improvisation on the axatse. sogo, kidi and lead drum parts, above, I have suggested various methods by which a phrase, motive, or figure can be modified so as to produce stylistically appropriate variations. The relationship between a variation and the original phrase can be called "organic" because the variation draws upon the inherent musical qualities of the original. The child, as it were, "genetically" develops from its parent's musical "celis." Below is a list which summarizes and, in several cases, augments the methods discussed in chapters on THE TIME, THE RESPONSE, nd THE CALL: a • Accentuation: altering the intensity / loudness of strokes without changing their timing or timbre. • "Bending the time": allowing for an elasticity of timing not governed by the equidistant, regular flow of pulses. • Displacement: keeping a motive intact but shifting its placement within the measure. • Dynamics: varying the loudness and intensity of tones. • filling or emptying musical "space": adding or leaving out tones using the processes of stroke substitution or subdivision. • Metric modulation: expressing cross rhythm or polymeter by using rhythms based on a ternary rather than binary organization of pulse and beat. • Ornamentation: using grace-notes played either before (prefixed) or after (suffixed) "structural" tones as embellishment. • Repetition: choosing how many times to repeat a musical thought. • Recombination: joining figures / motives from separate phrases into new combinations. • Rephrasing: changing the interpretation of a phrase's beginning and ending. • Segmentation: parsing the relatively long phrase into shorter motives which themselves then become available for repetition and variation. • Stroke substitution: changing stroke type without changing timing. • Subdivision: dividing a long tone into several quicker tones. • Syncopation: playing a tone in an unexpected position, either anticipated or delayed.

These techniques are physical in orientation and derive from a player's ability effortlessly to repeat the basic part for his instrument. They resonate with the tendency of the player of African music to view his musical instrument as a being with personality and soul. to regard his part as existing "on its own," "out there," and to balance his ego with tradition thereby becoming a conduit for a greater energy which is delivered through the medium of music. In closing this section, I need to temper the impression that a "part" consists of a basic phrase and an associated set of variations, that is, a balance of static and dynamic elements. Although this model is useful for identifying techniques of variation, it is misleading. A more sophisticated conceptualization would see a "part" as a musical idea, a distinctive rhythmic force, which the creative musician brings "into being" during performance. From this perspective, the techniques for musical modification are seen as instruments for the exploration of the musical valences of the part.

Aesthetic Goals
If the instrumental parts are means, what aesthetic ends do they serve? Below is a list of diverse aesthetic qualities and performer attitudes which inform pleasing and powerful renditions of Gahu. In keeping with the practical orientation of Drum Oahu, the ideas are expressed as performance directions, that is, as concepts to keep in mind as you play. Some, perhaps, are true universally for all music; many would apply to various types of African music, especially other types of recreational social dance music; none, I feel. would be unique to Gahu. Some of these ideas, dance impulse and humor, for example, apply at all times during performance while others, divisive versus additive timing orientations, for example, refer to alternative goals among which you can shift. Like all data in Drum Oahu these are my own ideas developed in the context of my extensive involvement with this music,' My suggested goals for aesthetic qualities and performer attitudes are as follows: • Dance impulse and focus; physicality: be aware of the dance and even if there are no dancers, have images of movement in your mind; involve your whole body and move rhythmically as you play. • Divisive, beat orientation: concentrate on the relationship of your strokes to the beats with less focus on phrase shape. • Humor: be witty and cunning with the design of your part; create expectations and then fulfill them in unexpected ways; enjoy yourself as you play and show it: smile! • Interaction: since a change in one part no matter how subtle, changes the whole, listen closely to others in the ensemble; try to use your part to enhance the force of the other parts. • Intensity: unlike momentum which refers to the emphasis on elapsing time, intensity means a beat- by-beat focus; phrases with jagged contour and syncopated timing tend to create intensity.

I,
I

128 Drum Gahu

,
Conclusion
129

• Linear, time {low, additive, pulse orientation: put the gankogui phrase' 'in the back of your mind" and focus on creating interesting sequential patterns; do not tap your foot! • Momentum: all strokes should "push the time" without rushing; phrases with sparse and I or on beat tones tend to create momentum. • Phrase interaction: attend less to the relationship of strokes to beats and more to that of phrase to phrase, stroke to stroke. • Positive ambiguity I indeterminacy of interpretation: explore the many configurations in which the polyrhythmic whole and its parts can be interpreted. • Power, vitality: move your hands with directness, speed, lightness, and strength; maintain high intensity throughout the performance; emphasize the downward movement of strokes, rather than the recovery, and try to vibrate all the air within the drum. • Steady change: repeat a phrase sufficiently to allow it to take its interactive effect; consider the effect of the rhythmic change itself, in addition to the power of the phrases themselves.

on a beat. Since it is natural to expect that music which is easy to comprehend should be easy to execute, students often become both frustrated and self-critical: "What is wrong with me? This should be so easy! I must have no aptitude." You must remember that Gahu is more challenging than it might first appear. While it is probably true that all individuals are not endowed equally with musical talent the ability to keep steady time can be acquired and the skill of maintaining counter-valent phrases within a poly rhythm can be learned.

Aural, Oral and Literate Learning My attempt to teach African drumming using staff notation faces three major obstacles. First all systems of musical graphics necessarily omit essential features of performed music and assume the reader's experience with the notated musical tradition will enable him to fiII in the missing material; most readers of Drum Oahu have never heard an Ewe drum ensemble. Second, staff notation is closely linked to the traditions of Occidental fine art and popular music; I am employing it to render African music. Third, a score does not make the music teacher redundant-literate and oral traditions always coincide-but here discourse and rational prose stands in place of the emotive oral teacher. Given these three factors, it seems to me that the correlation of audio tape with musical examples is among the most significant features of Drum Oahu. Every appropriate example is performed on African musical instruments and many are demonstrated with verbalized mnemonic syllables as well. While the audio tape cannot replace face-to-face experience, it should enable you better to link notation with timbre and timing. I urge you to study the book with a tape player handy and use it frequently. The discussion of concepts of technique, aesthetics and meaning involved in the performance of Gahu further enriches this mediated presentation of Oahu, but direct exposure to African teachers remains irreplaceable and invaluable. African teachers and performers are more available than you might think. May Drum Oahu provide a catalyst for productive interaction between African and non-African through the medium of performance!

The Process of Learning
Commitment For most of us, African percussion ensemble music requires unfamiliar performance skills and musical sensibilities. The African musician has felt the drums while in his mother's womb and has been carried on her back as she danced her belief in metaphysical forces and her involvement in community; he has witnessed and participated in many performances throughout his life; and he believes in the power of reincarnation, the ancestors and the invisible mysteries. We-the unenculturated-choose the task of learning a musical tradition which has not been a part of our lives, our history, our culture. Personally, I remember the state of utter confusion in which I passed my first semester of study at Columbia University; I simply could not hear the gankogui phrase, its relationship to an implicit meter and the interrelationship among parts. I trained on THE TIME and THE RESPONSE four years at for Wesleyan University before attempting the music of THE CALL and it was not until I returned from two years in Africa and began teaching that finally I began to feel truly comfortable with my lead drum playing. I implore you to recognize the magnitude of the challenge and have the patience and persistence necessary for these rhythms and musical concepts gradually to seep into your musical being. The percussion ensemble music of Oahu is simple to understand yet difficult to perceive and perform. The kaganu part is a good example: you can know exactly what you are supposed to do, but be unable A) to hear the way in which the second tone in each pair precedes the beats by a sixteenth note, and B) play the part at tempo-one of the two tones always seems to fall right

, 'I
I I

Developing a Personal Style I have endeavored to present Oahu as a dynamic process, not a static form. In Africa, no two Oahu clubs perform the piece identically and it is a telling criticism to complain that one club simply imitates another. Personal creativity is the norm: learn from your teacher but then create your personal style by adding your own interpretation and ideas. This is the approach I have followed in Drum Oahu and it is the path I suggest to you. After you internalize the rhythms, acquire technical facility, and understand the music theory and aesthetic concepts, relax and let the music pass through you. Personal style will develop on its own.

130

Drum Gahu The Value of African Music

I

I

In 1985 I traveled to Africa with a small group from the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society. In northern Ohana we were received by the late chief of Tolon, an important division ofa traditional "state" known as Dagbon.ln the open area in front of his palace we displayed our best attempts at the traditional music and dance of the region and then entertained the assembled townspeople with some jazz and rock as well. After our performance the chief of Tolonoffered kola nut and posed several questions: What prompted our trip? Had we come really to Africa to learn' 'to beat the tom-toms?" Why?What were we going to do with what we learned? Since in his culture only those born into a drumming family become drummers and performance intimately is tied to specific social events, these were not idle questions. The chief, well educated and an international traveler himself, was genuinely puzzled and wanted to hear our answers. Wecast glances at one another. Did we really know what African music meant to us and could we explain it to him? As always, we tried our best: the jazz trombonist mentioned that African rhythms inspired his composition, the set drummer talked of how playing in an African percussion ensemble improved his musical time, the guitar player enthused about the exciting interplay of parts within the ensemble, the modern dancer cited the bond between music and dance, and the jazz-rock fusion band leader discussed the positive moral and ethical value of international understanding through the performing arts. Allof these answers were true but overlooked the key to our devotion to traditional African music-the inherent beauty of the form - and it remained for the amateur musician in our group to express the heart of the matter: the computer programmer said simply that performing African music was great fun. The chief nodded his approval, but seemed unconvinced: the idea of foreigners willingly choosing to emulate African drummers apparently remained for him an unacceptably bizarre anomaly. Our answers retain their cogency in the context of Drum Oahu. Dedicated practice on Oahu probably will improve your musical time, provide you with compositional inspiration, and encourage you to listen to others with sensitivity and to play music with a dance-like physicality. And yes, hopefully you will find the piece itself aesthetically pleasing and the act of playing this music enjoyable. The final point is the key to authenticity: if you feel the power of the music, if you apply yourself wholeheartedly to the challenge of learning then your results will be genuine. It is in the nature of Oahu to create community and affirm life. Not only does the very structure of percussion ensemble music require intense mutual responsibility among players, but also the exuberant vitality of the piece suffuses the entire performance event with good feeling. Beyond its sheer power as music, these extramusical values enable Oahu to transcend its African origins and become a force in the emergent universal culture of man.

...

Guide to Pronunciation
1.
I. Proper Nouns

Notes
INTRODUCTION
David Locke, The Music of Atsiagbekor. Ph.D.dissertation, Wesleyan University, 1978. 2. SeeBebey.Chernoff, Locke, Lomax, Merriain, Nketia, Thompson and Wilson, for example. 3. Paul Berliner's The Soul of Mbira stands as one particularly fine example of African music scholarship. 4. SeeLocke 1978: Chapter L for a summary of secondary source material on Ewesociety. 5. Kobla Ladzekpo. personal communication, Fall 1985. 6. Gideon Alorwoyie. personal communication, Fall 1986. 7. SeeLadzekpo for a fuller description of such clubs and their performances. 8. SeeArmstrong's The Affecting Presence: An Essay in Humanistic Anthropology for a discussion of the ways in which artistic works sometimes have a tendency to create va life of their own." 9. SeeGerhard Kubik for a discussion of "aural illusions" and inherent rhythms in African music. 10. Joseph Oaleota's master's thesis Drum Making Among the Southern Ewe People of Ghana and Togo offers more information on Ewe musical instruments and instrument makers. 11. SeeSmall. 12. Many authors have written about the musical function of the bell part: see Nketla:13L for example.

Aflao: Agbekor: Dagbamba: Ewe: Oahu: Kinka:

"Ah flah oh" "Ah gbeh kaw "Dahg bahm bah" "Eh way" "Oah hoo" "King kah':

II. Names of Musical Instruments

atsimevu:

axatse:
gboba: gankogui:

atoke:
kaganu: kidi: sago:

"ah chi meh voo" "ah hah cheh" "gboh bah" "gahng koh goo ee" "ah toh keh" "kah gahng 00" "kee dee" "soh goh"

THE TIME
III. Drum Stroke Syllables

1. D. Lead Drum "ga" "de' "ge" "he"
"re'

A. Axatse "pa" "pah' "ti" "tee"
B. Sago

2. 3. 4. 5.

"de"

"deh"

"tsi" "chee"
C. Kidi "ki" "di" "gi" "kee" "dee" "gee" (hard "g")

"be" "gi" "dzl" "ton" "kpa' "dza' "kere

"gah" "deh' "geh" "heh" "reh': "beh" "gee" (hard "g") "gee" (soft "g") "taw" (nasalized) "kpah: ("kp" is one sound) "gah" (soft "g") "keh reh

SeeJones 1954, and Pantaleoni 1972b, for discussion of these perspectives on African music. Iwould like to thank Joyce Mekeel for this suggestion, personal communication, 1985. SeeMaraire in Berliner:130. SeeNketia:127. SeeJones 1954,Koetting, Locke 1978 and 1982, Nketia, Serwadda and Pantaleoni. and Waterman for more discussion.

THE RESPONSE
1. 2. 3. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 1. SeeLocke 1978. SeeThompson 1963. SeeChernoff 1974:56.

THE CALL
SeeChernoff 1979. SeeLocke 1980 for a discussion of the use of timbral / tonal contrast in Ewe drum language. SeeJones 1959:175. SeeThompson, 1974:13. on "getting down" as a valuable metaphor in describing African aesthetics. Godwin AgbelL paraphrased from an interview, 1976.

CONCLUSION
SeeBebey, Chernoff. Nketia and Thompson for reports on African aesthetic values as expressed by Africans.

132

133

References
Armstrong,

Locke, David

1978

The Music of Atsiagbekor. Ph.D Dissertation.
Wesleyan University.

Middletown,

C:T:

1971

Robert

The Affecting Presence: An Essay in Humanistic Anthropology.
Urbana: University of Illinois Press. . by Josephme Bennet.

1982

"Principles of Off-beat Ewe Dance Drumming:'

Timing

and Cross Rhythm

in Southern

Ethnomusicology

26,2:217-246.

Bebey, Francis

1975

African Music: A People's Art. Translated New York: Lawrence Hill.

Lomax, Alan 1976 Cantometrics: An Approach to the Anthropology of Music. Berkeley: University of California, Extension Media Center Merriam, 1959 Alan "African Music," in Continuity and Change in African Cultures, William R. Bascom and Melville J. Herskovits (eds.j, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. .

Berliner,

1978

Paul

The Soul of Mbira: Music and Traditions of the Shona People of Zimbabwe. Berkeley: University of California Press. African Rhythm and African Sensibil.ity: Aesth~tlcs.and Social Action in African Musical Idioms. Chicago: unlversity of
Chicago Press.

Chernoff,

1979

John

Nketia, J.H. Kwabena

1974
Fantaleonl. 1972a

The Music of Africa. New York: W.W.Norton.
Hewitt

Cudjoe, S.D. .' 1953 "The Techniques of Ewe Drummmg and the SOCIal Importance of Music in Africa," Phylon. 14:280-91. Gadzekpo. 1952 Galeota.

The Rhythm of Atsia Dance Drumming among the Anlo (Ewe) of Anyako Ph.D. Dissertation. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan
University.

B. Sinedzi
"Making Joseph

Music in Eweland;'

WestAfrican Review. 23:817-21.

1972b

"Three

Principles

of Timing

in Anlo Dance Drumming,"

African Music 5, 2:50-63.
1972c Serwadda, 1968 Schuller, "Toward Understanding the Play of Atsimevu in Atsia," African

1985

Drum Making among the Southern Ewe People of a~ana .and Togo. Masters Thesis. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan Universlty.
E.M. von "African Negro Music," Rhythm,"

Music 5, 2:64-84.
Moses and Hewitt Pantaleoni "A Possible Notation for African Music 4, 2:47-52. Gunther

ftornbcstel. 1928

Africa, 1:30-62.

Dance Drumming,"

Jones, A.M. 1954 "African
I

African

Africa, 24:26-47.
Press.

I 1959
Koetting. 1970

Studies in African Music. 2 vols. London: Oxford University
James. "Analysis and Notation of West African Music:' Selected Reports 1,3:115-146. Drum Ensemble

1968 1977
Thompson,

Early Jazz. New York: Oxford University

Press.

Small, Christopher

Music Society and Education. London: John Calder.
Robert F.

I'

1974
Waterman, 1952

African Art in Motion. Los Angeles:
Press. Robert "African Influence (ed.) Acculturation Chicago Press.

University

of California

Kubik, Gerhard 1962 "The Phenomenon of Inherent Rhythms in East and Central African Instrumental Music." African Music 3, 1:33-42.ql

Ladzekpo. Kobla
1971

.' . "The Social Mechanics of Good MUSIC: A DescnptlOn of Dance Clubs among the Anlo Ewe-Speaking People of Ghana,"

on the Music of the Americas," in 501 Tax in the Americas. Chicago: University of

African Music, 1:6-22.
Ladzekpo. 1970 Kobla. and Hewitt Pantaleoni "Takada Drumming," African Music, 4:6-31.

Wilson, Oily 1974 "The Significance of the Relationship between Afro- American Music and West African Music," The Black Perspective in Music.

134

135

...
I

Index
A absolute music, 5 Adzinyah, Abraham, 2, 3, 42, 75, 95,121 Africa metaphysical beliefs, 128 modernization, 6 scholars of, 4 African music phrasing, 10 teachers of, 6 Agbekor Drum and Dance Society, 2, 3, 130 Agbeli, Godwin, 2, 3, 40, 42, 50, 52, 70, 73,75,78,96,109,120 Alorwoyie, Gideon, 2,3,5,7,70,75 assymmetry, 32, 77, 124 Atsiagbekor, 2, 3 audio tape, 4, 15, 129 B balaphone, 4 Benin,S bilateral symmetry, 39 Black American music, bounce-strokes, 37 C call and response, 11 Chernoff, John, 4 choreography, 8 Columbia University, L 128 comparative musicologists, 14 composers, 14 cross rhythm, 35, 83, 124 Cudjoe, 4
D
I "I

E enculturation, 68, 128 England, Nicholas, 1 ethnomusicologists, 6, 14 Europe, 5 Ewe music and dance of, 1 people, 1 performing groups, 5
F

instruments axatse part 26 basic sogo, kidi and kaganu parts, 42 gankogui part 16 kaganu part 31 onomatopoiea and, 11 playing technique, 10 inversion, 88
J

o
Olatunji, ] Occidental music, 129 P Pantaleoni, Hewitt 4 perception, 7 personal style, 129 play, 101 polymeter, 83, 124 polyrhythm (context), 123 positive ambiguity of phrasing, 23 press strokes, 37

jazz-rock, 130 Jones, A,M" 4
K

feedback network, 7 folklore context 6 stage performance, 8 G Oadzekpo,4 Oahu aesthetic goals, 127 African cultural setting,S contemporary aesthetic qualities, 6 fundamental rhythmic structure, 16 type of music and dance, 1 polyrhythm in, 7 variation in, 42 Obeho, Philip, 6 "genetic" development 76, 126 "get down" movements, 107 Ghana Folkloric Company, 2 National Arts Council, 2 National Dance Ensemble, 109 University of, 2 "ghosted" strokes, 28 H Hendrix, Jimi, 1 historians, 15

kinesthetic emphasis, 24 Kinka, 115 kora. 4
L

S
Schuller, Gunther, 4 staff notation, 9, 129 symmetry, 32, 77,124
T

Ladzekpo, Alfred, L 5 lead drum compared with master drum, 12 melodic quality, 73 musical goal, 69 signals to dancers, 107 Leicach, Steve, 9 M mbira,4 McAllester, David, 1 media, 9 meter additive perspective, 17 African" 4 / 4" time, 23 counter-meter, 26 divisive perspective, 18 implicit 125 terminology and approach, 33 "turn-around" of, 60 metric modulation, 41 mnemonic syllables, 26, 40, 70, 129 musical modification, 126 musical notation, 41 musical "space," 79, 80
N

tablature, 15,74 tactus. 19 theorists (music), 15 Togo, 96 tradition individuality and, 27 musicians and, 4 resilience of, lIS sensory, 14 "trampoline" effect 38

v
vocables, 9 vocalization, W Wesleyan University African Music Program, ] Drum Ensemble, 109 World Music Program, 2 15,26

I

dance influence on improvisation, music,37 pattern, 8 physical contact, 113 dampening, 73 Donkor. Freeman, 3,17,75 drum "language," 109 drumming technique, 37

7

x
x-shape (notehead), 9
Y Yoruba,5

improvisation in axatse part 27 on kidi. 60 on response drums, 48 process of. 74

Nigeria,S Nketia, J. H., 2

136

137

MUSIC/PERf'ORI'1INGAHT.')

OQUM GAHU
The Rhythms of West African Drumming Drum Gahu: The Rhythms of West African Drumming provides a unique approach to the study of African music. Concentrating on the traditional performance piece Gahu, the author gives step~by~stepinstructions in principles of West African rhythm. Chapter 1 ~ INTRODUCTION Discusses the cultural setting of Gahu. Chapter 2 - THE TIME Establishes the fundamental rhythm of Gahu. Chapter 3 . THE RESPONSE Presents the middle layer of Oahu's three part texture. Chapter 4 - THE CALL Provides unprecedented, detailed instruction in lead drum playing. Chapter 5 - CONCLUSION Discusses the role of Gahu in the emergent universal culture of man.
"This book is a first ... excellent even for those who do not expect to per/ann tile music. CHO/eF.
N ---

NA guide for ethnomusicotogists, African studies entnusiesis and music educators." -~ COME-AU~Yf: "uecommenaea for all music scholars and all music students, especially those in percussion and ethnomusicoloqy." --- ETHNOMUS/COLOOY

PERFORMANCE

11'1 WORLD

MUSIC SERJES NO. J

IS8N 0-941677-02-8

White Clirrs Media Company Suggested price $15.95 ($19.50, Canada) Distribuled by The Talman Company

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