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Master Drummers of Dagbon
Pharoah S. Wail
Transcental Sound blogspot
Reviews by Pharoah S. Wail (Inner Space) on Amazon
Master Drummers of Dagbon, volume 2
5.0 out of 5 stars on June 1, 2001
The cd that started it all (for me)
was the very first African cd I ever bought. I don't remember
what grade I was in but I know I was in highschool so it's probably
been about 10 years ago that I bought it. This cd deserves to be
The thing that continues to really get me about this
album is that if you just give it a lazy listen you will miss what is
actually going on with this music. Some of the songs have an
overall contour that may seem like constant repetition if you aren't
really paying attention. However, if you are actually listening
to it (and not just playing it in the background as you do other
things) there is a world of overlapping rhythmic complexity changing
and turning inside all of these songs. These drums also have
unique tones. A rubberyness. A really tight bounce I love.
Also, it just struck me that all this time I forgot about Volume
One! I don't have that one but I'll have to correct that situation soon.
is really an incredible cd to listen to outside at night. I've
listened to it while sitting around a campfire by a river at night
before and it was a really beautiful experience. Sitting still
would be quite a feat during this cd. This is really a great
example of one of the communal dance musics for which West Africa is
known. This cd may almost make you wish you knew all your
neighbors and could all come together and dance together to some of the
many rhythms of life. I really feel lucky that I decided to take
a chance on this recording when I stumbled upon it way back when.
It really jump-started an entire world of interest in Indigenous
African musics for me, and even now that I am much more knowledgeable
than I was then it still holds up as a classic recording.
Master Drummers of Dagbon, volume 1
5.0 out of 5 stars on April 30, 2003
Just as fantastic as Volume 2!
have had Master Drummers Of Dagbon Volume 2 for ten years or so, and
Volume 1 for far shorter a time. This lapse in judgement was due
to nothing more than some sort of brain-cramp. Had I had any
sense, I would have made sure to get this disc, Volume 1, right after I
bought Volume 2.
If you have Volume 2 then this cd is more of
the same, just different. The same inspired playing, excellent
recording quality, great spirit and it gives off a real feel for the
culture and people from whom this music was spawned. It's
different just in that it's different songs, different beats and
rhythms, etc... Both discs are fantastic documents of this
regional drumming style.
In a perfect world (with a modern
cd-buying public that places more value on the spiritual and artistic
contributions of other cultures) this music would have been able to
generate enough interest to be released just as one excellent 2-disc
set, but being that that's not the world we live in, this music had to
be split into 2 discs.
No matter. It's a small price to
pay for music as perfect as this. I feel that I wrote a pretty
complete and satisfying review of Volume 2. My review of Volume 2
could be interchangeable with a review of Volume 1, if you'd like to
read that as well.
If you have one of these, get the other. If
you have none, get either or. Although my ultimate advice would be for
you to get this, Volume 2, and also the excellent Master Fiddlers Of Dagbon
cd. I just absolutely love all three of these discs!! The
only flaw in this little series of Masters Of Dagbon discs is that
there aren't 10 discs. Hopefully there will be more to come.
Review by Ron Wynn
Master Drummers of Dagbon, volume 2
16 performances by the Master Drummers of Dagbon troupe from Northern
Ghana. Once more, the ensemble turns their drumming into a hypnotic,
enchanting rhythm ceremony, creating waves of shimmering, exploding
beats, accents and patterns. What's so impressive about the Master
Drummers, besides their obvious abilities, is the way melodic and
harmonic developments emerge from what seems like an obsession with
rhythm. Their seamless lines, rippling phrases and non-stop propulsive
energy key these songs, which are tied to traditional dances,
celebrations and expressions of worship and joy.
Review by Brian Olewnick
Dagbamba are a culture in northern Ghana, an area known for its long
and rich history of percussion ensembles whose influence (aside from
underlying much jazz and rock) has spread into the contemporary
classical field through study by composers like Steve Reich. This
recording by author and musical historian John Miller Chernoff
assembles a large number of local musicians under the direction of
Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulai, who leads them through a kind of sampler of
various rhythms and dances common to the culture. The result is raw,
complex, and invigorating with none of the gloss or pandering quality
that infects many so-called "world music" productions. The drums
contain multitudes of elastic rhythms and pitches, the latter effected
by the use of "talking drums," dual-headed instruments with cords
stretched between the playing surfaces whose tension can be controlled
by pressure from the player's arms. Though punctuated by occasional
vocal exhortations, this is pure drumming music. Any listener
interested in investigating the source of much of the rhythmic basis
for contemporary Western music owes it to themselves to hear the
percussion music of West Africa, and this recording is a fine place to
Review by Transcendental Sound blogspot
Following on my previous post of the Explorer Series Ancient Ceremonies: Dance Music & Songs of Ghana, I present Master Drummers of Dagbon.
Maintaining our geographical location, this disc similaraly presents a
portion of the musical heritage of Ghana. This time Rounder presents
recordings by the ethnomusicologist John Miller Chernoff of the
Dagbamba of northern Ghana.
This disc keeps a narrower focus
than the Nonesuch CD allowing for a more detailed look at the many
drumming styles of the region. The emphasis of the recordings
themselves stick to that of the drum ensemble itself, though often
accompanied by singing. The liner notes written by Chernoff provide
information that keeps it eye on the contextual cultural environment
that this music exists in. As well as providing specific information of
each particular track. Though none of these recordings were made during
the specific ceremonies they manage to capture the atmosphere of each
performance, free of the local ambient and social noise which often
accompanies such discs. A great recording for those interested in the
diverse abilities of the drumming of Dagbon.