My story with Senegal started in 2008 when I was traveling Africa for the second time and was deported from The Gambia to Senegal after spending 4 days in jail with a group of friends.
It was all because of a typo / error in the Visa permission in my passport. I didn’t realise it at that moment, but it was maybe one of the best things ever happened to me despite the rough experience.
After coming back home I remember telling my drum set teacher - Nir Nakav, about what i saw heard in Senegal and then he immediately showed me a video that changed my entire perception. It Was Doudou Ndiaye Rose playing his most well known composition - Rose Rhythm.
I remember that the first thing i said to myself and to Nir was that “I’m going to study and play with Doudou!”. It took me two years to reach one of his sons (one of about 40 sons spread around the globe), living in Holland - Aly Ndiaye Rose.
When i met Aly in Senegal in January 2010 I realised how lucky I was to have him as my close teacher for a month and a half. His knowledge was so wide and every hit on the drum was full of intention and mastership.
He is truly one of the best Senegalese Master drummers living today. Here is a video I took in the end of my journey in 2010, documenting the whole Rose Rhythm composition with Aly Ndiaye, Ibou Galo, Tra M'bay and children of the family:
The routine was like this…
I woke up early every morning to the sound of the waves as we were living 100 meters from the coast line. I ate a good breakfast and headed to the beach. Classes were held there for about 3 to 4 hours.
I documented every part on every drum, every variation and every small nuance. For me that was the only way to dive into a culture that is not mine and to be able to absorb the deep essence of it. Main Documentation was made by filming during classes.
After class was over I headed back to my room to transcribe what i just learned so I won’t forget the important stuff. I created my own notation vocabulary using to western notation methods to notate Senegalese rhythms.
Here is my transcription for Rose Rhythm by Doudou Ndiaye Rose, that I wrote in my notebook ten years ago in Senegal:
In 2013 I came back to Senegal to record an album with my band, and this is a story for another blog post but the point is that I had the chance to present my African Drum Set skills that I’ve been developing ever since 2010, playing Senegalese compositions in a modern approach.
In that trip I met AWADI, a famous Senegalese rapper who was blown away by the concept I created using traditional Senegalese drums and he introduced me personally to Doudou Ndiaye Rose.
In that meeting Doudou and I played his famous composition - Rose Rhythm and It was no doubt, one of the high points for me. This is a video from my meeting with Doudou in ‘Balajo Club’ in Dakar Senegal, playing together another traditional rhythm:
A day after that meeting we all went to AWADI’s recording studio with Doudou Ndiaye and five of his sons to record a tune together. This tune will be released this year finally after some years I’ve been working on it.
It will be in remembrance of the greatest African Master Drummer of all times Doudou Ndiaye Rose who passed away on August 19th four years ago, exactly on my birthday. So stay tuned for this special release.
And so just for celebrating the end of my first blog post I wanted to share with you this high quality music sheet I created to Doudou’s composition - Rose Rhythm. Check it out, try it out, share this with your percussionists friends. I know a lot of people are looking for this kind of knowledge in a western notation.
let me know what you think in the comments below
Peace and Love