Hi all, This post would be about another interest of mine djembe – an African drum and FOSS.I couldn’t believe that even after writing for 2-3 years now, I hadn’t mentioned anything about Djembes.
It actually got triggered as I met a long-lost friend whom I had met last 6-7 years ago.The thing is, in most Indian schools (at least in my growing up years) apart from Loyola’s or some high-brow education institutions most of the Schools don’t have any musical choir or anything. So most of the students, people at large grow up on Bollywood music. While Bollywood music in itself is not bad, its sorta staid.
While I was growing up,many influences including Osho Resort in Pune, Rainbow Gatherings in India, trekking, travelling and mixing with people of different cultures I was made aware of lots of different kinds of music. For e.g. I came to know Rock itself has so many variations, from Country Rock to soft rock and what not. Also what was interesting to find is at least in the West, most of the people seem to have a very individualistic taste in music. Most of the young crowd, surprisingly doesn’t like following trends and are more into experimentation. The term ‘World Music‘ while for many is just a term, I have just a small idea how big it really is. That’s why it is doubly hard when ‘The Confluence‘ comes and go. I wish it was not so expensive to go and be there.
During one of these journeys, I came face-to-face with a Djembe. The beautiful thing about Djembe is unlike the Tabla which :-
a. Requires years to master
b. Has rules and regulations which one is supposed to abide by
A Djembe, on the other hand, is more anarchistic in a sense and more free-flowing. It doesn’t require much skill and if you can hold a beat, you can play on a Djembe. What has been fascinating is seeing more and more people getting into it, although its played usually on festivals. What I would like to see is djembe circles happening. Djembe Circles can be physiologically and psychologically therapeutic while at the same time being addictive. It can be played along with a flute, a sitar, a didgeridoo and a guitar. I have seen it being played with all those instruments.
There is also something fascinating called Djembe circles. In India, nowadays many counsellors,psychiatrists,management consultants etc. use such circles to make people extrovert, team work and many such beneficial life skills. The other thing about Djembe Circles do is many a time they do bring a certain skill and energy that a player/user whatever might not have. I don’t know about others but at times do feel conflicted and doubting about my own ability to play in places or know of beats and places that I cannot play (consciously) but in a djembe circle those things simply get evaporated. The ego just isn’t there.
There are many myths about Djembe as there are about free software. Just as an e.g. Djembe is supposed to be a LOUD instrument while the reality is it can be played softly, or that you need to be extrovert/in the front and I have seen very shy/secluded people who play it for their enjoyment. I do see and can draw many parallels with it.
The only sad part, I know of only two people in the Indian FOSS community who love djembe. The first one is Niyam Bhushan and the other is Hemant Babu who works with Community-Radio quite a bit. I sorta vaguely remember Niyam also putting some Djembe instrumental pieces on his web-site as well few years back.
I have seen both the younger brothers of Zakir Hussain Sahab play with Djembes and they are great percussionists but they don’t really count as they are professionals 🙂 Although have to also say I’m a bit biased about Taufiq as well as he has also similar charisma as Zakir Sahab.
All out for now, see you guys soon.