Last night was the first in our new “Try This” series. Owuo Begine taught a small enthusiastic group some Ghanaian Xylophone (Gyil) patterns at our studio. He began by explaining how the instrument is put together and tuned, and the buzzing sound that comes from the holes in the resonating gourds underneath the keys which originally would have had spider webs covering them but now are paper. The vibration of the paper on the holes results in the beautiful and unique sounds of these instruments.
Students tried various tricky patterns using two mallets and resulting in a complex sound. Owuo finished the evening by playing three gorgeous pieces for everyone. Owuo is currently living in Montreal after emigrating from Ghana two years ago. We are lucky to have him! Special thanks to Dominic & Tony for getting him to Ottawa last night.
Participant (and Baobab Board chair) Ian Brown had this to say:
“While it was different to drumming (and easier on the hands!) there were many similarities… it’s so easy to feel confident that you have a rhythm figured out, play it well for a few minutes and then it just mysteriously vanishes leaving you floundering. I think we found that even when we did figure it out and could generally go up the notes well, coming back down was a whole other challenge, even though it was exactly the same rhythm! I really enjoyed Owuo’s teaching style – very relaxed but encouraging and easy to follow. I think the main enjoyment was the chance to do something totally new and unique.”
Next workshop in this series:
November 24, 2011: Art Project: Adinkra/ Kente picture frames with Maureen Clarke