By John Collins
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Additional resources for African Musical Symbolism In Contemporary Perspective: Roots, Rhythms and Relativity
Converted into TUBS graphical form it looks like the Figure below. To this I have added the four evenly spaced onbeats that fall within the time-lines of most African music. This is not usually beaten by any drummer but is rather an internally felt hidden beat. However it does give the cue to the downward movement of the dancers’ feet. M. Jones used as many as seventy-two of them to provide the necessary framework for the more intricate master-drum rhythms he was studying. 33 Figure 5: TUBS diagram of the adowa bell Note that the bell pattern does not start on interval one but rather on eleven.
Even the body itself becomes the 18 The hand jive is actually an African American hand-dance that became fashionable in the early rock ‘n’ roll era. Complex hand gestures are also found in African dance movements, like in the adowa. For examples of hand dances used to play East African drums and Central African guitar see Friedson (1996) and Rycroft (1961/2). 19 Whether sounded or not, African and African derived dance is made up of various polyrhythmic motions of feet, hips, shoulders and hands, of which some are based on the offbeat movements inbetween the sounded beats of the percussion instruments.
We will deal with two particular polyrhythms – the adowa of the Asante and the agbadza of the Ewe. The latter is an embellished version of the ubiquitous African Signature Tune mentioned earlier. Both are played in what Western musicians would call a 12/8 11 Personal communication. e. the bar or basic unit is made up of twelve eighth notes or quavers. To illustrate these two polyrhythms for the benefit of nonmusicians, I will not use the standard form of musical notation, as in the above Figures, but will space out the beats or pulses of the various instruments in a graphical way known as the Time Unit Box System (TUBS).