Loosely translated:

This group of African drummers, Gbozé worked with students from Whatcom in 2000 with fantastic results teaching drumming and dance.  Before their work with American students they have traveled to Japan, Europe and Canada to teach. They incorporate many traditions of Africa in their work, including fire dancing and mask dancing. They use the exact forms of traditional drumming from many different ethnic groups in the Ivory Coast.

Dogny Beugre Francois wrote about African drums: "There are two different kinds of drums that are used: just for music and talking drums. My focus here is on the speaking drums. These drums do more than making simple noise. In fact, the drums are talking and giving historical evidence for the company using them. In the Ivory Coast many ethnic groups use the talking drums. This was very dangerous in the past. In fact the drummer, under penalty of death, was not allowed to make a mistake while beating the drum. It must always make the right noise. Making a false noise can damage the history of his community. The drum is speaking the memory of a society. Talking drums are one of the sources of history of a society. Professor Niangoran-Bouah, a well-known socialogist of Ivoirain University, Abidjan, was the first to speak of a science called "drumologie", the science of drums. He warned that the drums of a company must speak only positive aspects of this company. Therefore it is necessary to 'listen to the drums against a company' to have the full picture.

Talking drums usually start with a message of a better community, tribe or society. Drummers to talk about the Avikam of Ebounou, e.g. start with a message of praise to the ancestor who was responsible for the exodus of the clan from the village. The second message is to ask who wants to dance for the public. In response there are specific actions one must do to be in accordance with its origin. If the dancer does not know what is right it is an insult and a mockery of drums and people there.

Talking drums are used only during special occasions."

Brian Palmer, instructor of music at the University of Whatcom Community, wrote about the drumming of Africa: "Africans have a strong belief about the mode associated with particular instruments and the spirit of an instrument. In Ghana and many other regions, drums symbolize power and royalty. The number of drums owned by a chief could be indicative of his place in the social hierarchy. The makers of the drum and principal drummer together are both highly regarded. When drums are constructed, the rituals are performed so that the spirit of the tree deep in the barrel (in a ritual, the tree is given an egg, three leaves, and libations!). some drums are considered the property of a group rather than individual, are housed in shrines, and sacrifices are offered.

The rhythm and percussion are strongly emphasized in African music. Polyrhythms (several different rhythmic configurations occurring simultaneously) are a predominant. rhythm in African music has evolved to be much more complex than in Western music,. The music once considered "primitive" by Westerners is now highly regarded for its sophistication and rhythmic complexity.  For the complete text of Brian Palmer's essay on African music see "African art and music" in the pages of historical WCC.


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