Thoughts on a notation for djembe rhythms March 24, 2009Posted by ficial in brain dump, drumming.
About a year ago I started taking djembe lessons from the wonderful Lara and Yael of RootsHeartPulse/. This is the first instrument I’ve played, and in fact the first musical thing I’ve done. I really enjoy it, though it eats my brain a bit. Lara and Yael learned from Babatunde Olatunji and so teach using the vocables he invented: Gun (base), Go and Do (tone), and Pa and Ta (slap). That works OK for me, but I think in sounds much more and better than images, so I made up a notation that I could write and use to help me remember the various rhythms. However, it’s only hand-writable. I’d like something I can type with out resorting to making my own fonts first. With a bit of fussing, I think I like this as a starting point:
- N = GUN
- O = GO and DO
- \ or / = PA and TA
Timing is indicated simply by spacing. The above doesn’t indicate handing, nor beat / emphasis. It’s easy enough to put additions marks when writing on paper, but types needs a more fixed syntax. So, I need to modify that a bit, and ideally make the characters a little more meaningful. My next idea is
- N = GUN (main hand)
- n = GUN (off hand)
- \ = GO (main hand)
- / = DO (off hand)
- ( = PA (main hand)
- ) = TA (off hand)
- , (on line above, as needed/desired) = emphasis
Plus, I’d like to be able to denote pauses, where/when that need to be clear. Also, there are a few strikes that need additional notation:
- , = tiny rest (used when spacing isn’t clear enough, e.g. in proportional fonts)
- X = GO/DO played together
- O = PA/TA played together
Spacing is still used for indicating time.
So, Fanga second part would look like N,N,n\/N,,Nn\/.
I’ll play with it a bit more, and if it works for me I’ll post a set of rhythms.