This week on Music Fridays @ Noon:
Directed by Don Skoog, the Contemporary Music Project Batá Ensemble will present a one-hour demonstration on batá drumming and orisha song.
The batá drums are the most sacred instruments of the Lucumí -- the Yorubas in Cuba -- and are fundamental to their religion, Santería, a combination of African beliefs and Catholicism. The rhythms, called toques, of these three hourglass-shaped drums form a large and beautiful repertoire which is both melodic and harmonic. When performed with the many orisha-songs of Santería, the batá are a musical bridge to a world where rhythms speak words and the drum is the voice of a god.
Religious aspects aside, batá toques are complicated polymetric patterns where each drum plays a different role in creating the larger composite rhythm. The players’ interactions move the music from section to section, creating conversations and transitions that are directed by the calls of the lead drummer. The rhythms are traditional and based in speech, and their unusual structure make them a challenge for both the memory and perception of the drummer. The variety and complexity of the toques make the musical wealth of batá a unique experience -- one that deepens the player’s understanding of the possibilities of rhythm.
Directed by Don Skoog, the Contemporary Music Project Batá Ensemble will present a one-hour demonstration on batá drumming and orisha song, then divide into breakout groups to give participants a hands-on class so they can play the drums for themselves.
Mr. Skoog has worked in Cuba for over twenty years, and was percussion coordinator for Plazacuba, a program that provides music instruction for Americans in Havana. He was a lead artist for The Gallery 37 Latin Big Band for ten years, is a freelance musician and educator in Chicago, and is director of the Contemporary Music Project. He has given batá workshops at Northwestern University, Kansas State University, Vandercook College, the Illinois Day of Percussion, Millikin University, the Nashville Jazz Workshop, the Old Town School of Folk Music, the College of DuPage, and for the International Music Foundation, among others. He is the author of Batá Drumming; The Instruments, the Rhythms, and the People Who Play Them.
Following the presentation, COD music students in attendance will be divided into breakout groups to give them a hands-on class so they can play the drums for themselves. There may be a limited number of places for general concert attendees.
Next week: Alumna mezzo-soprano Kirsten O'Donnell in recital with William Buhr on April 15
As usual, Noon, MAC 140, free admission.