The Boston Drum Circle has hit 500 members with the later member Alan Pugh! We are giving him a DrumConnection T-shirt and we want to take this moment to remember ALL of you and THANK YOU so much for supporting what DrumConnection is all about.
And what is that? What ARE we about?
DrumConnection takes drumming seriously and with respect. We love Guinean and her people and the money from drum circles helps to support many people without in Guinea.
DrumConnection cares about you! When you come to a DrumConnection event, whether you are a hot shot player or have never touched a drum or somewhere in-between, we want to reach out to you to make sure everyone is treated equally. Egos can be left at the door (when there IS a door:) We love beginners as in a way we are ALL beginners. We are all on a path of rhythm and we are here to connect with each other not to exclude anyone. When you drum with DrumConnection, be sure your heart is in the right place. Take care of your needs but more importantly, share your positive energy with others in ways that may become clear. It takes time to rise to this place but we expect it. I expect it.
In the sense of the phrase drum circle, it can be anything a circle of drummers can do. In a DrumConnection drum circle, you should experience joy, closeness, equality and total regard of the other. We come together as a group to achieve a feeling and a space that we cannot get to alone. To experience this you certainly do not want to cut yourself off from the possibility of growing both as a drummer, a friend and a human being.
Live to love. Love to drum. Drum with love.
In rhythm’s spirit,
PS Hope to see you this Saturday at 4PM on The Banks of the River Charles. Please try to bring your drums, a chair, your hat, a little jacket, and all the love you have to share.
A true djembe master is humble. I have never met a master drummer who was not humble. I have met good drummers who were arrogant but never a master. To get to the level of being a djembe master you have to be humble, kind and respectful to everyone. A master has to open his heart to all people and life.
This is a very important piece of information for anyone on the spiritual path of djembe drumming. You cannot play the djembe well without opening your heart. All of the masters will acknowledge this fact. Some people may feel this is a nice idea but in reality it all comes down to raw talent and how many hours you put into the practice of the drum. I beg to differ here. I have never met a djembe player with a bad attitude who I can consider to be a master drummer. I truly believe this to be an impossibility.
The djembe is a clean drum. The spirit of the djembe is clean. One cannot play djembe well without the spirit. The spirit will never come into a dirty vessel. If you are truly a good person and you are kind with everyone you have a chance to be a master djembe player. All that is left is that you dig for the truth, study and practice a lot.
It doesn’t matter what color your skin is. God made different colors because variety is beautiful look at the rainbow. The djembe is a drum of unity not separation. It brings people together in friendship, happiness and healing. This is the power of the djembe that truly attracts people.
Masters are humble. People should all recognize this fact. It is not just a nice quality of a djembe player, it is a requirement. Negativity and bad feelings have no place inside the djembe.
If you have some sadness or anger about something, you must always drop that when you sit down to drum or stand up to dance. After you are done drumming you can go back again to your problems. Don’t disrespect the djembe by bringing your negativity inside a drum which is by nature clean and peaceful.
What do you wish customers knew about you or your profession?
A.Making drums: If we paid the Africans what they should get paid making drums with us, a djembe drum would cost $4,000.- instead of $500.- But the economy doesn’t currently work that way and though we pay the drum builders well, we are not able to sell drums at the price they deserve to be.
Please keep this in mind if you are truly looking at African made drums. Most drums aren’t. Do you want your djembe to be made in China?!
Our friend Chris, master chef and new drummer gets in the Patriot Ledger! Check out the piece here.
Walden Pond inspires people in so many different ways. For a 51-year-old Arlington man, it is the place he goes to drum and “get rid of my demons.”
I first heard the soft sound of the drums coming from on top of a drumlin as I returned from a three-hour walk along the Fairhaven Trail, crossed the railroad tracks behind Walden Pond, and headed towards the parking area.
Three young people from Indiana came towards me, and they were also looking to see where the drummer might be. It was a soothing and intriguing rhythm that he was sounding.
Then I looked up and decided the drummer must be at the top of a big hill, or drumlin, and slowly began walking that way.
When I got in sight of the drummer, he stopped. “Can I come talk to you?” I asked. He paused and then said, “Sure.”
Here is a little video I shot of the concert with a point and shoot. It was an amazing experience to hear these drummers! A little like being in Africa again. They should be traveling near you so check em out. We supplied some if the drums and support instruments. DrumConnection.
These professional Krin are from guinea and will last a lifetime. The sound is phenomenal. Famoudou Konaté plays ours. As so the Guinean all women troupe, Nimbaya! Costs vary slightly as to the size and tone of the log. Let us know what you are looking for and we’ll figure out a happy price.
The djembe is one of West Africa’s best known instruments. This goblet-shaped drum is traditionally carved from a single piece of African hardwood and topped with an animal skin as a drumhead. In western understanding, the drum belongs to the membranophane class of instruments in the percussion family.
Some say the name of the djembe came from the Bamana in Mali, who said “Anke dje, anke be” to call their people together, as the saying translates as “everyone gather together.” “Dje” means gather and ”be” means everyone, which gave the drum used in these calls to order its name. The Bamanakans’ mythology tells of the original djembe, which was made of the hide of a giraffe-zebra hybrid called the gebraffe. There are at least a dozen stories of the history of the drum told by many master drummers. My master tells these stories and then steps back as even he, doesn’t purport to know the real truth. In history, the Mandinka of Manden became the Malinke of Mali. We often refer to them as the Mandé.
In actuality, the djembe drum is about 400-700 years old, and… read more»
There is a great place in Natick that we have recently stumbled upon called Roots and Wings Yoga and Healing Arts. They have over 40 health professionals where they create harmony, help you with injuries, restore strength to your body and mind. They do many forms of meditation and centering. WE are holding our first djembe drumming class there starting Thursday night. We hope this is the start of a great relationship. Check them out on the web! http://www.rootsandwingshealingarts.com/
Just came from the advanced drumming class with Liz teaching. Just a joyful class with a lot of material taught in a fun yet challenging way. Stuff that I had taught years ago was brought back to the class. So I sat there actually learning something that felt new. If you get a chance to study with Liz, you should!
It was a very magical night filled with lots of drumming, some history, a beautiful call and response song in Malinké. Djagba. While I have learned it from many others, this was truly simple and beautiful (simple as in - sparse). Loved it and I hope you did. Wadaba was filled with love and spirit tonight and we are looking forward to Friday in Framingham. Make sure you go to Framingham and not anywhere else! Each workshop is self-contained and does not build on the previous day. A few spaces left for Friday and the weekend. You can register online. Want to add a day? Just email me and I’ll respond. http://tinyurl.com/wadababost
See you tomorrow night at 7PM (doors open at 6:30PM) Bring your djembe and your dunun if you have one or a set.
I was transported to Africa in my head; I hope you felt a similar way. We’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for showing your support for Guinean music in Boston.
When I get a photo album up I will let you know and when I get an audio clip I will tell you as well.
Wadaba Workshops 2011 - Lexington/Framingham, Mass USA
Monette Marina-Keita wrote the songs for Coup d’Eclat during a coup d’état. - Photo by Cece Canton
Africa has been swapping music with the Americas for generations. The slave trade brought African music across the Atlantic hundreds of years ago, leading to the development of genres like rumba, calypso and samba, not to mention jazz and R&B. Eventually, it all ended up back where it started, in the form of styles like Afrobeat and soukous, an African rumba popular in the Congo.
So consider percussionist Monette Marino-Keita’s solo debut, last April’s Coup d’Eclat, the latest effort in a long tradition of mixing and matching.
In “Toumani,” an instrumental piece that pairs a West African melody with a Cuban rhythm, the 42year-old San Diego native plays balafon (a traditional African instrument similar to a xylophone) over congas. The saxophone melody in “Can’t Borrow Beauty,” a jazz-fusion jam written for a full band, comes straight from a folk song that schoolgirls sing in the West African nation of Guinea.
“They’re all so good that I can’t just say, ‘I like this one and I only like this one and I only like this one,’” Marino-Keita says in an interview at Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge in North Park, referring to the range of rhythms she’s studied: West African, Cuban, Brazilian, Korean. “I like to hear them all, so I try to make them merge.”
Marino-Keita was introduced to the drums by her father, a self-taught drummer who’s played in a number of local bands. She started out rocking the drum set over records by Led Zeppelin and AC/DC, but when she was 15, she picked up the congas and was soon enchanted by the “tactile experience” of thumping out rhythms with her hands.
“It’s almost like an extension of your body,” she says. “You really feel like that drum skin becomes part of your spirit. Whatever you’re hearing and thinking is coming out onto the skin.”
Drums have long played a key role in possession ceremonies and other spiritual rituals. But the drums also have a secular purpose, as Marino-Keita learned when she began traveling to Guinea in the ’90s to study the djembe and dununs, drums that the Mandingue people use in anything from baptisms to weddings.
“Everything that they do has a rhythm to celebrate that event,” she says. “For example, you gotta go weed the field, prepare the field for the planting of the seeds. You have drummers that accompany while you’re doing the work. Because it’s hot. It’s not a lot of fun. But when there’s music and people singing, everything goes by faster.”
Today, Marino-Keita runs a drumming school, Tam Tam Mandingue, with her husband Mamady Keita, a world-renowned master drummer from Guinea. They’ve traveled the world teaching drumming and they host an annual drum camp at Keita’s house in Matoto, a coastal suburb of Conakry, Guinea’s capital.
In December 2008, more than two-dozen students from across the world were taking lessons in Keita’s courtyard when Lansana Conté, the country’s ailing dictator of 24 years, died of an unspecified illness. The military immediately took power, closing the country’s borders, installing a transitional government and announcing a weeklong period of mourning in keeping with Muslim tradition. (Guinea is predominantly Muslim.)
“Guinea luckily stayed very calm during this whole period of time, so there was no threat of violence on us,” Marino-Keita says. “But we couldn’t drum.”
With nothing else to do, she wrote the songs that would later become Coup d’Eclat (a play on the French term coup d’état that roughly translated means “burst of joy”). Using the music software GarageBand, she tapped out bass lines and conga rhythms on her laptop’s keyboard. Back in San Diego, she worked with producer Allan Phillips to arrange the sketches for a live band.
Last year, the first democratic elections in Guinea’s history went off smoothly. But just to be safe, Marino- Keita canceled this January’s drum camp. Instead, her husband will join her nine-piece band onstage at Anthology this week.
“That’s going to be a treat,” she says. “[We’ll] bring him up for at least two songs, probably more. Because once he’s into the groove, he won’t want to leave the stage.”
Monette Marino-Keita, Mamady Keita and The Tribal Energy Dance Troupe will perform at Anthology on Thursday, Jan. 6. monettemarino.com.
Back in Boston! Reminder that Wadaba (the great panther) from Oroko, Guinea is HERE with us in Lexington, MA and Framingham, MA for 4 days of glorious Mande Drumming with djembe and dunun - songs and stories.
Not to late to register. Come celebrate what you love about drumming with us this week!
Also, students who just don’t want to work on the things they need to, to progress. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to encourage a student to work on the 2-3 things that would get them to the next level but they rather immerse themselves in the feelings of playing their instrument but not hearing the lack of music they aren’t making.
Not being negative here. I have great students. I think some feel hopeless that they will never be able to ‘do that’. So their own fear stops them from moving forward. I love working with all students and these students are a challenge but worthwhile. I do meet students who think they are playing something correctly and they aren’t even close.
Many are music conservatory graduates! They can be the hardest to teach, for me. Some, do not hear the music and many get stuck in the technique where they just can’t do something new.
They have been playing one way for years and then someone comes along and says, ‘that won’t work to get the sounds or the tonalities or the speed or the feel we need here’. I have had some just look at me like I was nuts! They went to the conservatory. But unfortunately, almost every conservatory graduate has flunked djembe and the true music of the Mandé.
Why? It’s because most of the music conservatories do not have good enough teachers, that’s all. They need to care more. Since even the department heads don’t know what to look or listen for in ‘world music’ they are lost to make better hires. In my world, Africa is the conservatory of African music.
Even when I teach or Famoudou teaches, you still need to go to Africa to study to get the real deal. You can study with djembe masters in the US and Europe but if you can’t get your butt to Guinea, Mali or other djembe ‘homes’ or more correctly ‘birth homes’, you just can’t get it.
Everybody really knows this already. And I understand the costs and time away and all of it. I am very lucky but I MADE it that way. It meant that much to me. And I might have been afraid to go as well but it didn’t stop me. I want THAT for my students. I know how powerful it is to learn the language of the djembe IN Africa.
It’s the same as learning French (for example) in the US for 10 years and then traveling to France. They will speak to you in English! I remember one of my first teachers, Ibrahima Camara, Senegal - said, “Alan, you are up there playing but you know that everyone in the audience can tell you are just a student.” (Something like that) —Lesson— You are doing it, you are thinking you sound great, people are applauding and nodding and all, but it is not music, my boy! You can do better than that. Don’t fool yourself.