Friday, January 25, 2013
Ewe drumming from Ghana
Music is a communal event in Ewe culture. Of the utmost importance is a musicians ability to relate to the other musicians he/she is playing with. No matter if you are a professional, or merely tapping out a rhythm on a glass bottle with friends. How much you understand about the concept of interdependence is what makes the music great and fulfilling in the eyes of the Ewe.
There is also a relationship between the musician and the listener. As the music is played it is important for the listener to keep their own time with the music. A listener must "feel" a pulse in the music even when it is not explicitly played by the instruments. With the understanding that the listener is mediating their own rhythm, the musicians are free to embellish, compliment, challenge, confuse, and amaze a listener. It's a relationship that's purely musical, but stems from how people in the community relate to each other. The societal structure is mirrored through the musical culture.
An important aspect of playing drums and dancing is style. The music must always be moving forward, but must also be steady and have strength in repetition. In order to keep the music interesting, players are encouraged to give their own improvisations within the playing structure. It can be compared to devotional that is interjected into a Baptist service by a member of the church. The music is organized to be open to the rhythmic interpretation a drummer, a listener, or a dancer wishes to contribute. John Miller Chernoff quotes in his work African Rhythm and African Sensibility; "In one sense the deepest unities may be achieved when people relate through a better awareness of their differences".
Improvisation is about gaining knowledge and using that knowledge tactfully.
the soup which is sweet draws the chairs in closer