Excerpted from Djembe Dunun Drumset by Maarten Schepers. Our profound thanks to Maarten for making this example of Soli available through Rhythmweb. Five rhythms are featured in his book, including four from Guinea (Dunungbé, Balakulandjan, Soli and Bundiani) and one from Mali (Djélidon). This page is for study and personal use only, and reproduction or distribution in any form is a violation of applicable copyright law.

Keep in mind that this is only part of each of two pages from the book. These are the basic parts, departure points, but not all there is to Soli. Also included [in the book] for Soli are over a dozen variations for sangban and dununba, and many variations for drumset. To read the whole book review, click here.

Go to the Rhythmweb book review

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Origin: Malinke Ethnic Group - The Soli rhythms accompany the initiation and circumcision rites which symbolize the passage from childhood into adulthood. in the past, the villagers chose a date in the year to initiate children that are approximately seven years old. As of this date in time, the musicians then played Soli regularly. the initiation took place outside the village, and lasted for three months. an adult in charge taught the children various notions on how to behave in the community and also some basic occupational skills and knowledge of plants and animals.they were put through many tests and recieved advises[advice]. In this way, traditional values were transmitted from generation to generation.

The initiation ended with circumcision. As this date approached, the Soli rhythm was played on a more regular basis. It was played every day of the last week, through to the final night. of the final day. after that, Soli was not played again until the next initiation.

Nowadays initiation rites are shorter and only found in the villages. In the cities, children are circumcised in the hospital when they are 40 days old, and the initiation rite no longer exists.

The Soli rhythm is very popular today. We find it in many forms in west Africa (Soli Lent, Soli Rapide, Wassolon Soli, Soli des Manian, and Balakulandjan, all of which make up the Soli family)

We have also found Soli in good recorded form along with Soli des Manian and Balakulandjan at, a worthy site in its own right.

Maarten Schepers at the drum set.

Original instrumentation

Further explanations: The dots on the djembe parts represent the strong hand (open circle) and the non-dominant hand (dot). The examples are recorded at 120 BPM, but it is often played much faster. Click on the music to hear the mp3 example, starting with #1. (No recording of the call appears separately, since it occurs at the beginning of all the other parts.)

Listen to the parts all superimposed [example 6]

Below is another kenkeni pattern for Soli, one which we find in many tertiary rhythms:

These are only the basic parts. Many variations and further details are in the book .

Drum set Soli

This is in another section of the book entirely. The hat is played on the beat throughout, but of course this will be optional in actual practice. First he runs through dununba, sangban, and kenkeni parts separately, each with it's bell part on the ride cymbal. Then individual parts are combined, and the djembe parts are thrown into the mix, often substituted for the kenkeni.The possibilities are many. Of course there are not enough limbs to do them all at once, so various combinations are used. Here, for example, is number 27, the kenkeni and dununba parts combined. once again, click on the image of the music to hear the mp3.

For his next example, the kenkeni and sangban parts are combined. it seems that the sangban parts are covered up a bit by this mix, so one might try increasing volume on that limb, or switching to a little bigger drum for the sangban part, to get it to stand out more, but you get the idea. It stimulates the imagination as to the possibilities.


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