08 Dec December 2019 Balafon Meeting
On Saturday 7 December 2019, I held the December 2019 Balafon Meeting for student and and other interested parties. We were guests in the beautiful ‘Plaza’ of the Hooge Veer on Bredaseweg in Tilburg. Fine acoustics and good service. With after-meeting at my home, nicely around the corner from Het Hooge Veer!
I gave two workshops there. The first one was with Woro Ma Bwe, a Bwa balafon piece I learnt in Konsankuy in Mali in 2011 from Youssouf and Kassim Keita. (Shakara) Woro Ma Bwe is a rhythm of the Bwa or Bwaba, a subspecies of the Bobo from Burkina Faso / Mali. ‘Moment of happiness’ because it is raining. It is a rhythm befitting the harvest festival. The song is old, but the balafon accompaniment is from the late 20th century (Zouratié and Daga Coulibali).
The song is an interpretation of a song by Nigerian Fela Kuti (Shakara). The song sings that it is a good night (“mi ma domè”) because the rain is (has been) good for the harvest. In the second line, it is told that by the way the ‘shakara’ dance is danced, you can tell that the bellies are well-filled (otherwise there could not be such exuberant / beautiful dancing). In the third line, a woman says: “Hey you young guy, you’re looking at me, do you want me? The group learnt the melody, the basic accompaniment pattern and made a start with a solo accompaniment pattern and singing. Here is a small impression.
Bo Yaro: solo phrases
After lunch, I worked on Bo Yaro, a song I have worked on all the teaching groups before as a result of the 2017 Balafon meeting. Bo Yaro is a Bobo balafon piece that supports the farmer’s work (called “Danveillaro” in Mali and Burkina Faso) in the fields. It is thus played while working in the fields. Bo Yaro = the young Bobo(man). We went through a few solo phrases.
Finally, those groups who wanted to did so showed something of what they are working on in the lessons. It was fun to show each other what we are struggling with or where we came up with something fun for an arrangement. Small performances with balafon and singing, and sometimes using other instruments like N’Goni, and accompaniment with Baras, Djembe, douns, shekers and rasp.
We had an after-dinner chat at my house; several people had brought some food and in the meantime some more playing on the N’Goni. It was a great day; thank you all for your commitment and contribution!
En route to the Balafon Meeting December 2019