This morning I walked to Kava with all my baggage so that I could move into the Aussie House after class. This is my final move until I leave for the airport on the 4th of July. Phew! It was a long walk but bumping into Sue who was also walking towards Kava made it whiz by, just like the morning breeze.The rhythm we played today is called ‘Baga Guine’; which from the ‘Baga’ people of the Coastal Guinea region. This is not a Malinke rhythm. The rhythm is similar to ‘Makroo/Makru’, a famous rhythm and dance of seduction of the ‘Susu’ peoople, but is a slowed down version of the same.

When the French first came to what we now call Guinea they heard the word ‘Guine’ being used a lot. And understandably they thought that this place would/could and should be called ‘Guinea.’ And so they too started refering to the place as ‘Guinea.’

‘Guine’ means ‘Women’ in the language of the Baga people. In Malinke the word for ‘women’ is ‘Muso’. And keeping with what seems like the theme of the workshop, and the insidious, deep-seeded love of ‘women’, it does not surprise me that the word ‘Guine’ stood out a lot to a foreigners ear in West-Africa. Now, people in Africa love (apart from women) their dance and their drums. Everybody is constantly ready to put their dancing shoes on. So ‘Baga Guine’ is a rhythm that talks about this phenomenon of a dance epidemic, so to say.

This rhythm has a very catchy song that is sung along with it. The lyrics to the song are:

(Aboroma Maboroma Ehhhh) * 3 {Are we dancing or are we  not dancing?}

Eh Laila Baga Guine {The Baga women}
Fare Boroma Oto Kuide {Lets dance to  the music in the car}

Magbanas or minivans are used very avidly for the transport of goods or people all over West Africa. So the people in these Magbanas just need any old excuse to get into song and dance. This rhythm gives them that.

Here’s what the song sounds like: Baga Guine

The dunun section of the rhythm has a distinct melody within it. Throughout today’s class I paid conscious attention to this and listening aware-fully, as I played my part, made all the difference. I can best describe this opening-up of the rhythm as a ‘Musician’s Out Of Body Experience’. My attention passed in and out of every note that was played and I had a deep musical and emotional understanding of the rhythm. This felt familiar yet new.

This is what the rhythm sounds like. You will also hear Famoudou improvise on this one: Baga Guine Solo

Today Famoudou surprised us all by asking some of us to solo. This is the magic that is Famoudou Konate. In Monette’s words, “You go wherever he takes you.” Today he inspired us to speak through our djembes and say what we had to say. I must say that personally I did not seem to be able to articulate myself as well as I thought I could but many lessons were learned. All of them had to do with being fully present and aware while playing. Of course, technique, power, speed, phrases are important; but what Famoudou emphasized on most is the feeling. “For me, the Djembe is an instrument to have fun with,” he said as he gave us subtle pointers on what to do and what not do while soloing .  This exercise left us all with a taste of  the forbidden fruit.  Now, we all want to push it more.The Dunun half of class was fun, interactive and a test of our attention skills. Famoudou gave the Dununba section varying patterns to play which would leave us with two things to do – to play our pattern  on the Sangban and Kenkeni and to listen to the Dununba pattern and feel how it weaved  in and out at different points with reference to the pattern we were playing. Before we knew it, we reached the end of our class. Since our curiosity and hunger for information is growing by the day, Monette announced that on Saturday we would have a Q’n’A session with both the masters and then let that organically evolve into our farewell party. “If I could open my heart and give it to you, I would,”  s aid Famoudou with reference to giving us all the information we wanted.I would like to sit down, cross-legged, under a tree, in Balandugu or Hamanah and listen to these masters talk.

Keli (now contender number 1 for the ‘Best Host’ prize), Sue and me had lunch ar Felipi’s in Little Italy. I realized what Keli meant when he said, “You get a tonne of food for $10,” as we ate a delicious sausage, mushroom and olive Pizza  and a Shrimp Filipi’s special pasta and got to know more about each others lives and journeys, how they have brought us here today and where they will take us tomorrow.

I moved into my new room in the Aussie house. I am staying with Michi Henning, Bruce, Linda, Rafe and Bruce. The room is beautiful and opens out into a lush green garden. Community living is something I appreciate after being alone for the last few days. Staying loyal to my day of Italian food we ate a delectable Pizza (Quatro Fromaggi) for dinner. Tomorrow we shall venture into Mexico, gastronomically speaking.

Tomorrow is also our last class with Mamady. It still doesn’t sink in. It feels like I got here from India just about a day ago.

Here’s to a few things: Being fully aware and present in every moment we live in, to journeys (at whatever stage we might find ourselves in), to rhythm and to life!

Come. Drum. Be One.
Taal Inc