Friday, March 2, 2007

M'bung M'bung

About 1am here on Friday night/early Saturday morning. In for the night with the intention of going to sleep early but of course its 1am, so it aint gonna be that early. Listening to the minidisc from today of my fourth sabar lesson. So far we've both played m'bung m'bung drums. Today was the first time my teacher Malick Faye, also known in these pages as "19yr old mofo," played Thiol (pronounced "Chol") while I played m'bung m'bung. Thiol is a heavy, closed bottomed, large circumference, barrel-shaped drum. M'bung has a more resonant bass tone (open bottomed) and a higher-pitched left-hand thwack.

The upshot of this was that when Malick would show me rhythms, all of a sudden they sounded very different because he was showing them to me on a different-sounding drum. Before long he grabbed an m'bung m'bung as well and played both. Its such a wonderful, rewarding challenge to learn these rhythms in our over-before-I-know-it 1.5 hour lessons. Its a lot different than my experience with my Mandinka drum teachers in Gambia a few years ago. With them, we'd spend morning and afternoon playing. Dakar is different. Its a city, people are busy, and the Sing Sing Rhythm family charge by the hour and don't really have the space (or the time? not sure) for an all-day hang like I had in Gambia. Curious how it will unfold in Gambia this time.

As for the sabar rhythms, we now have gone through the skeletal rhythms for three sections of a sabar concert:

1. N'daga
2. Dayourabie
3. Kaolak

There will be much more no doubt. Its some seriously swinging drumming! The pulse is so wide-open, again like Mandinka drumming due to the lack of a bell to lock things down. I can't wait to hear a full ensemble playing this stuff! I'm hoping Malick will be playing a "program" (concert) tomrrow but he seemed unsure as to whether they'd be playing or not. Not sure why. I'll call him in the morning and if they're not playing a program, I'll go over for another lesson. Because even though the poverty is endemic and startling, everyone's got a celphone. Tthe telecommunications industry in the developing world; the subject of yet another dissertation, and one I'm only qualified to marvel at.

Incidentally, every afternoon when I'm over there a lady (his mom? his aunt?) is cooking (read: frying in oil) beignets (tiny donuts with sugar sprinkled on liberally) and the neighborhood comes through buying 4 for 100 senegalese francs, the equivalent of 20 cents. They're delicious! I've treated myself after each lesson. Out of politeness but also because I've worked up an appetite, and well, they taste yummy.

WIllow and I had a meeting with our grant program advisor Modibo today as well. We met Modibo at the compound where his organization has two rooms of 8 pentium4 computers and one lovely air-conditioned conference room. We will give two class workshops (exact topics tba) there starting March15 and have our performance workshops at the club I mentioned in the last post called Just 4 You. Modibo also organized an interview with Radio Senegal International for this coming Monday morning. Not sure if we'll do it then or postpone it until March 15. We'll figure it out this weekend.

Tomorrow night I'lll be going to hear some m'balax somewhere. Youssou N'Dour plays at his club every Saturday night when he's in town; If he's playing I'm there. If he's not, there will be other concerts to hit. Once again, we shall see...


Kris Tiner said...

Great reading! keep it up man... looking forward to hearing this stuff when you get back...

Harris Eisenstadt said...

yeah man i only wish i could videotape a bunch of stuff.. my little camera takes ok little vids but the sound sucks, but at the elast the MD gets good sound. hope alls well there and a third family member fast aproaches-