African grooves

The western drum kit comprising the kick, snare, toms and cymbals has become a very domineering sound and groove driver worldwide including in African music. To demonstrate the power of our traditional drums we have gone back to the basics. As we say in Yoruba "ka daale ka tun sa". So the album (Africano… the mother of groove) and its twin 'Africano Party' are completely devoid of the Western drum kit. Four songs (out of about twenty seven) feature the Hi Hat and Cymbals used as percussion instruments. For avoidance of doubt I repeat categorically that there is not a single note of kick drum, snare or toms on these two albums. I am not advocating the total exclusion of the drum kit from African music, as it is such a powerful and beautiful instrument. But that is the hands of a skilled player. The tendency for many players of the drum kit in African music is to play western grooves. For the drum kit to work well with African drums it needs to be perceived from the African standpoint. It should be used as a part of the total drum weave. Not like the domineering role it plays in western pop music. While our future works would still feature the drum kit, for now we start from the beginning. The African grooves played only by traditional African drums. Each groove an interplay of rhythms from these different drums.

It should be noted too that although the drums lead the groove, the western instruments also contribute to the total groove. So this is not an intellectually enforced marriage of non compatible mates. The electric bass, for example, locks into the drum groove in many instances. The rhythms of the keyboards and guitars also complement the groove.

Another tendency in pop music is to sift the essence of a groove into simple beats. With all the sophistication of western melodic and harmonic structures much of its popular music is still driven by simple beats. Rather than breed cliché grooves we'd love the world to hear the sophisticated rhythms of the motherland. So once again, we go back to the source and play the drums the way they are traditionally played with all the inflections and nuances, polyrhythms and shifting accents. The Yoruba groove in all its subtlety and complex glory. No distillation for simplification. Contrary to pop fears it doesn't take much time for a new convert to find the accents and find his locus in relation to the encompassing groove. Music from Latin America already bridges the gap by offering a glimpse of the possibilities, to the Western world.

Hands vs. Sticks