3. An Endangered Species

Ghana

A track by track blog on the music from “Days of Sun and Days of Rain” – a consideration of the music and some reflections along the way

The foundation for this piece is the percussion part, a traditional African cross rhythm using simple repetitive patterns where there is some ambiguity between duple and triple metres. Some years ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to Ghana to take part in [and document] a series of drumming sessions given by master drummers from a village just outside Accra. So I was able to experience at first hand the uplifting sensation of playing in this group context. The key to doing this, for most Western ears at least, is to consider working in a 12/8 metre – a framework in which twos, threes and fours can comfortably work together.

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 08.49.55The screenshot shows the opening patterns. The lower part [shown in blue] is basically playing a steady pulse. There is some left/right channel separation on my recording so you should be able to hear both parts quite clearly. Simple enough when played on their own, but compelling when put together. Their mesmerising, almost hypnotic quality means that they will stand considerable repetition without becoming boring. The other instruments exploit these patterns, sometimes playing in unison with a chosen percussion part and sometimes working against it. The bass part is derived from the upper rhythm shown above and it is the guitar which tends to be more independent. In the middle of the piece, the rhythm reverts to a more standard 12/8 feel where all the instruments pull together.

The upper parts comprise a loosely formed duet for guitar and EBow. The standard guitar part plays short staccato phrases, developing from just a few notes. The EBow contrasts by playing long high notes, punctuated by occasional rapid trills. This Ebow part has been EQd to give a deliberately thin tone which adds to the sense of mystery and otherworldliness of this music.

Available on Spotify here:

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Posted in Days of Sun, Uncategorized

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