Mapathe Diop

Sabar Wolof: Dance Drumming of Senegal

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Mapathe Diop, a drummer from Senegal, once said that in Senegal, "they drum to wake the baby up, they drum to put the baby to sleep, they drum to relax, they drum to party, they drum when they are cooking, they drum after they eat, they drum for all reasons and for no reason." On this album, he shows every one of the rhythms used for all of those occasions. Sabar drumming from Senegal can be incredibly dense and exciting, as almost all of the drums used in the Sabar ensemble have a higher, crisp tone to them, unlike bata ensembles, Indian ensembles, or other African ensembles. The drummers beat the drums with one bare hand and one stick, with which they "whip" the drum, making the tone even crisper. On the album, there are multiple highlights. "Farwoudiar," a women's dance rhythm, is quite quick paced. "Thie Bou Dienne" utilizes heavily opposing rhythms between the drummers. "Oubil M'Barken Diaye" includes vocals that translate to "open up your robe and show me your sweet dish"; it is a rhythm used to get women to give the tired drummers encouragement (and they generally do). "Tatou Laube" is a complex rhythm from the Wolof woodcarvers. Throughout the album, the rhythms could begin to sound a little like an endless drone (see Mickey Hart's Planet Drum) of beats, but there are subtle differences, and those differences are what make the album worth hearing. As far as Senegalese drumming examples go, this is quite a good one, if not just about the only one available. Like the rest of the Village Pulse releases, it is relatively authentic, and of a good listening quality, especially for those with a bent for percussion.

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