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Various logical ascii notation systems are in use here.

Baba Olatunji's Gun go pa is the system I used in the box notation, and like Baba, I did not specify "go" for right and "do" for left, although it sometimes might be useful to do so. Nowadays, some like to specify gun, go and pa for the dominant hand and dun, do and ta for the weak hand; others are not so picky..

Baba left it to the player to get out the spoken sound in at the right time; whatever hand they might use to get it was okay.

Although he had written out the syllables of the rhythms on a blackboard, he did not place them graphically in time, but relied upon the ORAL part of his presentation to impart that to us.

We are aware that Baba most often played the last three of these, (7, 8, and 9), in a 16 beat pattern rather than 12, but since they work both ways, we have included them in 12, to sync with the others here.. the 16 beat versions are below

Sound files forthcoming!

Baba's Beginners' Exercises

Tip for newbies: Take advantage of classes and workshops when they come through your area. There's a lot to be learned..

I was fortunate to have attended one of Baba Olatunji's 3 day workshops in 1995, and got a series of rhythms from him that are very useful when working with newbies, very easy to grasp, yet with a nice handle on what hand drumming is all about; a doorway in, if you will. The rhythms all work with each other.

Note to facilitators: When you are working with brand newbies with hand drums, don't put the slap on them too soon; the 1st three of these lines, mixed around, can be fun for an entire first session! Let them get used to tones and bass notes before introducing the slap. When you DO introduce the slap, try to make sure the students' drums are tuned up well enough for them to easily achieve it.

These are for ashiko, djembe, and any other hand drums which use bass, slap and tone as the three main sounds..

Baba's beginner's rhythms are in a '12' feel, four big beats with the underlying triplets rolling along..

1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6
1 . . 2 . . 3 . . 4 . .

to get a feel for it, say, "boogedy boogedy boogedy boogedy " over and over :-)

Now listen. This was played on a little timba, directly into the computer with a cheap Micro Center Microphone; sorry about the lack of low end on the "gun"

.
.1.
...
...
.2.
...
...
.3.
...
...
.4.
...
...
1
Gun
.
go
do
.
.
Gun
.
go
do
.
.
2
Gun
.
go
do
go
do
Gun
.
.
.
.
.
3
Gun
.
go
do
go
do
Gun
.
go
do
.
.
4
Gun
.
go
do
go
do
Gun
.
pa
.
.
.
5
Gun
.
go
do
go
do
Gun
.
pa
ta
.
.
6
Gun
.
go
do
go
do
Gun
pa
go
pa
go
.
7
Gun
.
pa
Gun
.
pa
Gun
.
pa
go
do
.
8
Gun
.
pa
ta
pa
ta
Gun
.
pa
go
do
.
9
go
do
.
go
do
.
go
do
.
go
do
.
.
1
.
.
2
.
.
3
.
.
4
.
.

Here they are in cut and pasteable form, with a little different ascii notation. in this case,

b = (bass, or Gun/Dun), o= (tone or go/do), and s=(slap or pa/ta), make sure it is viewed in courier or another evenly spaced font, or it won't line up..

To hear the rhythm, click on the rhythm number.

1..2..3..4..

one
b.tt..b.tt.. (reads: Gun go do)

two
b.ttttb..... (Gun go do go do Gun)

three
b.ttttb.tt.. (Gun go do go do Gun go do)

four
b.ttttb.s... (Gun go do go do Gun pa....)etc

five
b.ttttb.ss..

six
b.ttttbstst.

seven
b.sb.sb.soo.

eight
b.ssssb.stt.

nine
bssbssb.stt.

ten
tt.tt.tt.tt.

================================

Sixteen beat versions - This is more the way Baba most often played the last four rhythms during the workshop I attended. I believe I heard him play them both ways..

1...2...3...4...

seven [16 beat version]
b.s.b.s.b.s.tt..

eight
b.ss.ss.b.s.tt..

nine
b
.ssb.ssb.s.tt..

ten
tt..tt..tt..tt..

 

This page is meant to honor Baba Olatunji, and to spread his teachings to newbie drummers everywhere.

For more Baba links, don't fotrget to visit our tribute page to Baba Olatunji

These hand drumming exercises were taught by Babatnde Olatunji to the students of his three day workshop in 1995 at the Black Academy of Arts and Letters in Dallas Texas..

1995 was a good year for drumming in Dallas. I did all the workshops I could get my hands on, and lots of good facilitators and teachers came through: A three day playshop with Arthur, a Saturday workshop with Paulo, Baba's 3 day workshop; Malang Bayo's workshop, djembe classes twice a week with Kweku too for several months. I had no computer yet, so my time was wide open..


Above: The today section of the Dallas Morning News, Summer Solstice 1995. From left to right: Amy Martin, Eric Stuer, Happy Shel, Arthur Hull, Paulo Mattioli, Peggy Lamb. [click the pic for closer look.]

I'd known about Baba for years, and was no stranger to "Drums of Passion". I was a little scared to meet him.

As a teacher, he was very gentle, and the goodwill emanating from such an experienced one made you feel comfortable, ready to learn without fear. Thanks Baba..

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