by Maarten Schepers
Book/CD review by Eric Stuer
Maarten's work is a perfect example of why I love the
World Wide Web. Back in the old days, it would have taken
years for us here in the USA to hear about Maarten Schepers and
his studies and writings. Thanks to the Web, our meeting was as
simple as an e-mail, and I am currently working with a copy of his
book, Djembe, Dunun, Drumset, which is available to all.
Maarten is a drumset player /percussionist who has been immersed
in the phenomenal French/African djembe/dunun scene for years, and
he has done his homework. His first book covers some very fertile
ground, bridging the gap between this African percussion tradition
and its application to modern drum set.
The book / CD set deals with 5 traditional Malinke Rhythms, four
from Guinea (Dunungbé, Balakulandja, Soli and Bundiani) and
one from Mali (Djélidon). The rhythms are selected with great
care. For example, Dunungbé is the principal rhythm of the
Dunumba family, which is made up of more than twenty rhythms. It
is known as the mother of all Dununba rhythms.
This is not merely a drumset book, either. After a bit of historical
and cultural background, given for each rhythm at the beginning
of the section, the rhythm is then treated in detail
from the viewpoint of the original instrumentation, with basic patterns,
variations "chauffes" [loosely translated as 'heating
up'], and solo material. Many variations on the parts are given
, and so on. Only then are possible drumset applications introduced.
Well written and well notated, with good audio examples, this book/CD
set succeeds entirely as a learning tool, on various levels. The
book is actually useful too for those studying any of the languages
that are used, such as French and English [presented side by side
throughout], and both standard and simplified musical notation [the
simplified is above the standard notation on every page.] This is
an added benefit for those beginning drummers learning (or currently
intimidated by) standard notation.
Left, from his website: From left to right : Madou Koïta, Mamady
Keïta, Sine Traoré and Maarten Schepers, October 1998.
Maarten brings considerable experience to the creation of this book.
For his complete discography and resume, more photos and so on,
Basics of the rhythm Soli from the
book are posted HERE.
The information given in the original instrumentation portion is
also very useful for more advanced players, since it deals with
which instrument issues which calls and when, and other issues which
seldom if ever get any attention in beginners' djembe classes.
Regarding the drumset portion of the book, however, perhaps it
isn't so much a beginning drumset player's book. It might be better
to know the basics of drumset and drumset reading in order to be
able to really use the material presented.. Still, the simplified
notation key above the regular notation gives a bit of insight where
normally a newbie might be baffled.
It was certain, with the popularity of djembe and dunun around
the world, that it would be only a short time before folks would
be blending djembe/dunun with drum set studies. Maarten's Djembe/Dunun
Drumset is one of the first such efforts, and we think it will remain
one of the best. The book /CD set are a bit hard to obtain here
in the states, but we shall keep you posted. In the meantime, visit
him at his website.
Eric Stuer, December 2005