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September, 2012:

African Talking Drum vs. Modern Talking Guitar

In My Modern World Music class, we were going over the African Drummers specifically The Dagomba Drummers that can make a drum talk. Instantly I thought, ‘Hey that’s really cool!’ There are a ton of ways to communicate through music, the tamber and emotions behind a melody for sure. But who would have thought literally through your instrument. We hear this not only in African Triditions but also in some modern music as well.

A little bit about the drums I’m talking about. They are double end and held together with leather bands. squeezing the bands under your arm with different amounts of pressure changes the tune that is produced and you beat it. Simple enough. Here is a great example of what I’m talking about. This guy is explaining his drum and how it works. He tells us that they don’t have cell phones or anything so they use the drums to communicate. To understand he plays his name and then the very common song ‘twinkle twinkle little star’. That’s pretty cool because it’s not just the tune, it sounds like the drum is saying the words.  [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDSPPHGht5s[/youtube]

Now that you get where I’m coming from, here is an example of a Dagomba Wedding Ceremony and Praise Drumming taking place in Ghana.  [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of1Up3M_Y5Q[/youtube]  If you listen, you will hear a leader followed by what seems like a ton of random chaotic drumming. Then if you go back and listen closer you can pick out that a lot of them are using the drum to repeat what the leader is singing. This is great! You can really feel the emotions going on even if you just listen to it without watching whats going on. You can feel that it is very up beat and happy even if you can’t understand what they are saying.

The Talk Box is an instrument that makes your voice sound like the guitar your playing. Artists from Peter Frampton to Stevie Wonder to Slash use this crazy piece of technology to change and really dig deep into the music. Here is a video of Peter Frampton talking about his history of the Talk Box and he shows us how it works.  [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-jrpxL3aP8[/youtube]  And here is a link to hear him play the famous ‘Do you feel like we do’.  [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDn2lbIltHM[/youtube]

This is interesting because you can hear him literally communicating through his guitar, just as the we heard the Dagomba Drummers speak through their instruments. Yes, they aren’t exactly the same thing they are doing it for different reasons.  However something has to be said about the influence of African Talking Drums and the Modern Talk Box.  It’s pretty awesome to think that living creatures are not the only talking objects on the planet.