Thursday, March 3, 2016
Last evening I attended the Massamba Diop event. First off, it was an incredible experience. It was certainly not like any kind of western musical performance I have attended. Musically there was clearly a huge emphasis on percussion instruments and creating a rhythm to dance to. It seems that the music is meant to be danced to, not merely listened to, which is why it was so incredibly interactive. In western music, percussion is generally used to keep a beat for other brass or string instruments to play along to, which you can see in Jazz, Rock and Roll, and other string or brass heavy musical genres. Since there was not a lot of singing, they instead used a Tamba, which they said was like a speaking instrument. And it was really quite fascinating to listen to. As a child I played the drums and would try to make weird, almost narrative sounds from the drum set I owned, but never could I get the loud, vocal reverberations which the tall man, since I forget his name, was able to produce. They also played a whistle and a large harp like instrument which were also very interesting to listen to, as played by themselves or with other instruments, they created such a unique sound. I liked the walawalo song, as it was fun to sing and dance and be a part of the music. It's not a type of music to listen to, but a type of music to be a part of and feel, and the musicians made that very clear, basically forcing people to get up and dance with them. The other part I was really fond of was when Tony performed his poetry. It was very peaceful to listen to his speech about everyone being from Africa, and it made a lot of sense. While it might not be our direct heritage, we owe all of our existence to Africa, and to not listen and be a part of the culture would be to deny that a long, long, long time ago, we really were from Africa. This experience was eye-opening, fun, and I hope they or a group such as this one come to visit McDaniel soon.