"During my field study of balafon music in the region of the Bobo and Bamana tribes of West Africa, I observed that this oral culture pertains to an embodied practice: musical concepts like rhythm and melody are embodied in forms of bimanual coordination and spatial distance of the two-arm striking movements. Through the method of participant-observation – in this case learning and rehearsing with local balafon musicians – my artistic views as a classically-trained marimba performer in a tradition depending on symbolic representation of the music, have been challenged and enriched."
Article published on Music+Practice vol.2, 2015
Drumming Steve Reich (1971)
Coach and research: Adilia Yip | Coach: Koen Wilmaers | Dans coach: Iris Bouche, Marta Coronado | Ensemble and dance: Royal Conservatoire Antwerp
Gele Zaal, deSingel | 11-12 December, 2014
The project is an experiment to study the application of the balafon oral tradition in the performance of Drumming (Steve Reich, 1971), a minimalism ensemble work written for 9 percussionists, 2 singers and 1 piccolo. Different to the conventional practice of score reading practice, Drumming is passed on among generations of percussionists orally, so did the composer who also taught his ensemble for the premiere of the work without using notation. In this version, I push the limit further: I asked the percussion students to watch the video renditions of the published score and they have to memorize the patterns and structure by heart. This alternative method integrates the performance practice of the balafon oral tradition, which I have observed during my lessons and rehearsals with the African musicians. The aim of the experiment is to test the feasibility of the alternative approach and to observe the effect of the method on the performance of the ensemble in terms of synchronization and cohesion.
Praxis is the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, embodied, or realised. "Praxis" may also refer to the act of engaging, applying, exercising, realizing, or practicing ideas.
Rhythm in Africa grows out of actions. We can identify some basic polyrhythm concept in the daily activities. In music, African rhythm is also a pragmatic practice. It is manifested in form of performance and actions, rather than contemplative and in form of symbolic transcriptions. Rhythm is embodied in movement; so learning or understanding the African rhythm is a process of “doing-it”. The process involves our body and the actions of engaging, applying and exercising.
Published on ESMUC artistic research digital platform