07 Feb Balafon Meeting – Térété & Sanji
Here is a report of the Balafon Meeting held on Saturday 4 February 2023 in Tilburg. We worked on two rhythms that day: Térété & Sanji. We also had a live video conversation via a big screen with Youssouf Keita, who gave an introduction to the rhythm Térété and wished us success and fun in studying and playing the rhythm. In addition, the guest I had that day, Corinne Durin taught us exercises for the rhythm Sanji. Corinne was my guest and student from Comox, Vancouver Island, Canada. She has a group of balafonists there that she accompanies with weekly lessons. She was visiting me for a 10-day private workshop.
The rhythm Térété is a rhythm that is about changing the dialogue between a man and woman in a relationship. Through a particular intervention and new approach to communication by the woman, a problem is discussed in a way that can lead to a solution/improvement.
I had been sent some videos by Youssouf before the meeting, allowing me to prepare myself for the lesson during the meeting. So for me, the rhythm was not yet ‘cut and dried’ but I had been able to analyse and write it out enough to fill the meeting with it. Patterns A & B were not easy and Youssouf had also composed a long intro to the rhythm, for what we had to work hard to play well. I was able to practice the suppleness and naturalness in motor skills quite well during that day! Meanwhile, there is a Dutch rhythm page so far; so be alert for the English and French version!
At my request, my guest Corinne Durin presented and taught us a start for the rhythm ‘Sanji’. It was 4 patterns mixed together that gave a nice effect. They are exercises she was once given by Mamadou Diabaté to work towards Sanji. The rhythm itself is much more complex apparently but the interplay of some of the patterns together did remind me of the special music of the Sambla and Toussain (I believe Mamadou is from the Sambla ethnic group). For Corinne, it was also a nice experience to give a workshop for a new, unfamiliar group for once.
Once we were chatting afterward at my house, we held another video chat with Youssouf and he explained the plans for the new foundation ‘Yiri Kan’ (see blog entry on that). One of the upcoming focal points is drawing attention to the tree from which balafons can be made: the ‘Rosewood; ‘Palissander Senegalesis’. All builders and players will propagate to protect this tree and plant new ones in the countries where this tree is used for balafon making: Ivory Coast, Mali and Burkina Faso. We toasted to the start of activities of Yiri Kan!
During the meal, there was another performance by ‘Balabos’ in which songs familiar to the students had been given their own interpretation. Balabos is a trio with Mirjam de Leuw (N’Goni), Anton Sluijtman (Percussion) and myself on balafon. Térété & Sanji was no longer played; that still needs some more practice……