Drummers and African Polyrhythms

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Drummers and African Polyrhythms

Postby violinist4ever » Fri Dec 01, 2006 11:22 am

Hey, everyone! Is anyone here a drummer? I have to find someone that knows about African Polyrhythms and how they relate to the African Arts Complex. My teacher suggested that I talk to a drummer, so if any of you are a drummer, or know some that is or knows about this topic, please let me know. Thanks a lot! :)
:)
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Postby shostakovich » Fri Dec 01, 2006 11:42 pm

African polyrhythm? It never occurred to me there might be any. Primitive music in any society wouldn't be poly-anything. I'm curious about when and where African music became that sophisticated. African art can be pretty impressive. There are stylized carvings that impress (including the masks that inspired Picasso) and colorful, complicated fabrics. But African music? Inquiring minds want to know. I'll be following this thread.
Shos
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Postby Serenity » Sat Dec 02, 2006 12:01 am

Well, here's a first attempt....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyrhythm
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Postby violinist4ever » Sat Dec 02, 2006 1:51 pm

Do you know what the African Arts Complex is? I studied it briefly in the class that I have to write this paper for. My teacher chose this topic because it relates to dance and music. I asked one of my music history teachers if she knew anything about African Polyrhythms, and she said that it's kind of related to Twentieth Century music because it was complex and some people might not have understood it. Now, when I asked her this, I was in a rush and was tried, so I may have misunderstood her what she was telling me. (Like Schoenberg and how he used a 12 tone scale, but it still just sounded random and sloppy.) I don't know how well this applies to my topic, so maybe you can help clear this up. Also, you bring up a very good argument with African music even having polyrhythms. I will definitely keep you updated with my research!
:)
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Postby bignaf » Sat Dec 02, 2006 6:10 pm

shostakovich wrote:African polyrhythm? It never occurred to me there might be any. Primitive music in any society wouldn't be poly-anything. I'm curious about when and where African music became that sophisticated. African art can be pretty impressive. There are stylized carvings that impress (including the masks that inspired Picasso) and colorful, complicated fabrics. But African music? Inquiring minds want to know. I'll be following this thread.
Shos


are you joking???!!!?? "primitive music"... and I'm supposedly conservative???
African music had Rhthmic complexities that weren't reached until Ligeti in Western music.
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Postby bignaf » Sat Dec 02, 2006 6:13 pm

violinist4ever wrote:Do you know what the African Arts Complex is? I studied it briefly in the class that I have to write this paper for. My teacher chose this topic because it relates to dance and music. I asked one of my music history teachers if she knew anything about African Polyrhythms, and she said that it's kind of related to Twentieth Century music because it was complex and some people might not have understood it. Now, when I asked her this, I was in a rush and was tried, so I may have misunderstood her what she was telling me. (Like Schoenberg and how he used a 12 tone scale, but it still just sounded random and sloppy.) I don't know how well this applies to my topic, so maybe you can help clear this up. Also, you bring up a very good argument with African music even having polyrhythms. I will definitely keep you updated with my research!


no, shos (uncharacteristically), brought up a really bad eurocentric argument.
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Postby bignaf » Sat Dec 02, 2006 6:21 pm

v4e, it sounds like you're talking more about complexity in African art, rather than African Art Complex, which sounds like a bunch of buildings for art, or like a mental problem. do some research, because right now I'm in a bad mood, and don't feel like being helpful. though my PM should help you a little.
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Postby shostakovich » Sat Dec 02, 2006 11:23 pm

bignaf wrote:
shostakovich wrote:African polyrhythm? It never occurred to me there might be any. Primitive music in any society wouldn't be poly-anything. I'm curious about when and where African music became that sophisticated. African art can be pretty impressive. There are stylized carvings that impress (including the masks that inspired Picasso) and colorful, complicated fabrics. But African music? Inquiring minds want to know. I'll be following this thread.
Shos


are you joking???!!!?? "primitive music"... and I'm supposedly conservative???
African music had Rhthmic complexities that weren't reached until Ligeti in Western music.


You misunderstand my meaning of "primitive". It means "first". First is necessarily simple, whether it's Euro, Asio, Indio, anythingo.

The article Serenity posted claimed African polyrhythm, but "call and response" to me means alternating. Maybe the calling and responding are simultaneous. I'm not familiar with that. There are also references to African-influenced music in the USA. If the mix has polyrhythm, it's not obvious to me that it came from the Afro side of the mix. I use "Afro" to mean uninfluenced (pure) African music. Jazz was born in the USA, not Africa. Certainly it came from the Black community, but that community is not pure African.

I fully admit my ignorance of pure African music. That's why I'm interested in this thread. I don't think I have ever experienced pure African music. As I said, I'm curious about where and when African music became polyrhythmic. I'm not doubting that it happened. Considering that drumming is by its nature rhythmic, polyrhythm might have been a natural consequence. But when and where? If anyone can suggest a recording of same, I'll look for it in the local libe.

Now, Big, how early was pure African music so far out that it took Ligeti to match it? "Atmospheres" has turned me off Ligeti. That work strikes me as a non-musical exercise in sound.
Shos
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Postby bignaf » Sun Dec 03, 2006 9:53 am

I know primitive means first. I'm shocked that you thinks that African music hasn't evolved from the "first" stage. Africa had humans probably longer than Europe, and history is less well recorded there, so existence of African "first" music is much less likely than in Europe.
from this exchange I see 3 gaps: 1. knowledge of african polyrhythm. 2. knowledge of the fact that African music doesn't equal drumming 3. knowledge of Ligeti's music other than Atmospheres (which is much more than an exercise in sound [and IMO there is nothing wrong with exercises in sound]).
you can fix all these with one CD: African Rhythms, by Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Aka Pygmies. it alternates Ligeti's piano etudes and some music by Steve Reich with very ancient polyphonic polyrhythmic Aka pygmy (primaraly) vocal music. hope you enjoy it! :)
Last edited by bignaf on Sun Dec 03, 2006 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby bignaf » Sun Dec 03, 2006 9:55 am

for a great tradition of African drumming see ewe drumming.
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Postby Shapley » Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:13 pm

violinist:

You've probably already looked at these sites, but I'm posting them here for those like myself who were unfamiliar with African polyrhythms:

Ancient-Future.com

Batadrums.com

National Music Foundation
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Postby shostakovich » Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:36 pm

bignaf wrote:I know primitive means first. I'm shocked that you thinks that African music hasn't evolved from the "first" stage. Africa had humans probably longer than Europe, and history is less well recorded there, so existence of African "first" music is much less likely than in Europe.
from this exchange I see 3 gaps: 1. knowledge of african polyrhythm. 2. knowledge of the fact that African music doesn't equal drumming 3. knowledge of Ligeti's music other than Atmospheres (which is much more than an exercise in sound [and IMO there is nothing wrong with exercises in sound]).
you can fix all these with one CD: African Rhythms, by Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Aka Pygmies. it alternates Ligeti's piano etudes and some music by Steve Reich with very ancient polyphonic polyrhythmic Aka pygmy (primaraly) vocal music. hope you enjoy it! :)


I certainly admit to gaps 1 & 3. I didn't claim gap 2. But drumming is an ancient form of communication apart from musical qualities. And thanks for the CD recommendation. I'll look for it my next trip to the libe. Also thanks to Shap for the additional sites.
Shos
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Postby violinist4ever » Mon Dec 04, 2006 10:38 am

Thanks, Shapley, I haven't looked at those sites yet. I've just been trying to find information in books. I'm only allowed to use one internet source, so it has to be a good one, so thanks. I'll definitely look at those.

So, everyone, this is what I've found so far.... One book was talking about how the rhythms of bells on the feet and the rhythms of gourds and other sounds are used together.... Could that be part of how the music is polyrhythmic? I mean besdies the actaul drumming? I haven't been able to to find a book on that yet, but I'm going after class today, so I'll let everyone know what I find! Thanks so much for all of your imput! You're making me actually interested writing a 10 page paper!

Also, thanks for the CD titles! I'm going to see try to see if I can get my hands on a recording! :)
:)
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Postby Shapley » Mon Dec 04, 2006 10:47 am

Violinist:

Here is what the Batadrums site says:

The simplest example of polyrhythm is 2 against 3, where one hand or one drum is playing two evenly spaced notes in the same time it takes for the other to play three evenly spaced notes. An example from popular American music is the song that goes "Chimchimini chimchimini chimchim, cheree" from the musical Mary Poppins. The chimchimini part is 2 vs. 3, where chim, chim, ni count out 1, 2, 3 and chim, mi count out 1, 2. In musical counting terms it's 1, 2 and 3, where 123 count out 123 and "1" and "and" count out a pulse of 1, 2. In X and O notation, you could write X-XOX- where each character is an equal amount of time and Xs count out 1-2-3- and the first X and the O count out 1--2--.


I suppose that the second rhythm could be carried by bells or other instruments, but this seems to indicate that the rhythms are carried primarily on drums. I looked briefly at the link Bignaf provided, and it seems to provide a lot of information. The links I provided are kind of general in nature, but they include other links that, all together, provide a great deal of information.

Happy hunting!

V/R
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Postby shostakovich » Mon Dec 04, 2006 10:04 pm

Luckily I'm familiar with the song from Mary Poppins. I don't hear polyrhythm in it, just a steady 3-beat.

1)chim 2)chim 3)ni (The extra i just puts another syllable into it.)
1)chim 2)chim 3)ni
1)chim 2)chim 3)space cher (syncopation delays cher off the beat)
1, 2, 3, ee (for 3 beats, or 2 beats and a rest)

Well, that's the way I hear it.
Shos
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Postby bignaf » Tue Dec 05, 2006 1:05 am

they probably gave a bad example, but it's well known...
you now hear the 3. next step is to ignore all the syllables except for chim no. 1 and the "mi." so: chim chimini X2 try it. you'll get a steady rhythm of 2 against the 3. it's not a polyrhythm because they are not separate.
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Postby violinist4ever » Tue Dec 05, 2006 11:09 am

So wait, polyrhythms are't like hemiolas, right? That's a 2 and 3. Unless I'm wrong?!?! :oops:
:)
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Postby bignaf » Tue Dec 05, 2006 2:32 pm

polyrhythms are not like hemiolas, you're right. hemiolas are grouping beats in 2 in a 3 meter, or vice versa.
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Postby violinist4ever » Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:30 am

Hey, everyone! I haven't forgotten to update you on what I've found so far, because I'm having trouble finding informnation that is not online. I also listened to some of those Ligeti recordings and it seemed liked he just had two seperste things going on. Like instead of blending African and "western" musc, he seperated them on different tracks. Am I right? Or did he blendthem together and I just missed it? :?
:)
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Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Thu Dec 07, 2006 10:18 am

Apologies in advance to all you musical theory types, but I have to share this visual. It's a direct response to the title of this thread.

I've got a large group of smart gray parrots, with snare drums and miniature Vic Firth sticks (Vic will make custom sticks, you know) and they're busily playing their little drums. It's

African Polly Rhythms!

:rotfl:
>^..^<
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