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Entenga: Performing twice for the king of Buganda News

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…2015 and have since been supporting James in an initiative to revive the drums and teach younger musicians how to play them (read the field reports here or watch our documentary for more information of this project). The Entenga players were mentioned in the king’s speech, which James translated for us as: “ … I would like to thank especially those who played instruments of the palace, and in particular – Abatenga (Entenga players). I remember wh…

Musisi’s Story, Part 1: The Fall of the Buganda Kingdom Story

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…ach of the groups throughout the day. Why 3AM? Because the King loved our drums and chose the quietest moment in the day to have us play, so he could enjoy the beauty of our sound. I loved my life and felt so proud being a drummer. I remember one performance where the King loved our song so much that he gave a bull just to the drummers to enjoy in a big feast. And then he asked us to play the song again and again. And this beautiful life all ended…

A Tanzanian Effort to Salvage the Music of the Past News

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…t recording safaris to various rural villages to record these ngoma dances and drumming sessions.” This traditional village music was combined by state-funded bands with the Cuban-flavored rhumba coming in from the Congo. The resulting mélange, she said, “is characterised by these high guitar riffs, and then a lot of African polyrhythmic drumming in the background, and even featuring horn sections.” True to its name, muziki wa dansi is music that…

Central and Eastern Kenya: Days 5-11:An Interview with Gregg Story

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…y item – you don’t really need to support it. The government is focused on politics and big money items like tourism and business is focused on marketing which demands immediate return. So on one hand, our government investing in messages that say ‘see our animals not our people.’ And business is looking for big numbers which means popular things, which sadly means easy to digest, disposable pop culture. The whole drive to “marketing” is killing o…

Interview: fusion band Ndoto Afrika News

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…t grandchildren to have an idea of what it was like in the days of their grandparents, and hope that is not too much to wish for. Who are your musical influences? Right now, it will have to be Eric Wainana, Otieno Aloka, Gee (The Gambia) and X Maleya (Cameroon) What’s it like being an artist in Nairobi? If hell has an alias, then call it Nairobi – any upcoming artiste. But nothing is easy the world over, for anyone. Music is a huge challenge and i…

The History Of Benga Music: A Report by Ketebul Music Story

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…rio’s guitar work was evidently inspired by influences from way beyond Luoland and was pretty much ahead of its time. It is possible that its ingenuity came from itinerant guitarists from the Congo, Uganda and Zambia who were already visiting Nairobi in the 1960s. Musicians such as Jean Bosco Mwenda, Edward Masengo, Nashil Pichen, Peter Tsotsi and Ugandan bassist Charles Sonko introduced exotic styles which were snapped up by their local collabora…

Discussions with Peter Cooke: ethnomusicologist and Ugandan music expert News

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…in playing the Kiganda amadinda xylophone from the South African musicians Andrew and Paul Tracey before their evening show Wait a Minim.” “My work in Uganda led me to begin exploring that country’s traditional music initially with the aim of collecting useful materials for teaching purposes. That exploration has continued since then, apart from during the chaos of the periods of the rule of Amin and the Second Obote regime (1969-87).” Most notabl…

Before They Pass Away News

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…ross Kenya, meeting remote tribes like the Pokot Tribe, the Marakwet Tribe and the Ameru Ethnic Community. In a Ted Talk, he shared some of the fascinating rituals that he came across on his travels. Nelson’s objective, he says, was to reveal ‘beauty’. “I believe that I had to choose the most beautiful people on the planet in the most beautiful environment that they lived in,” he says. Nelson’s work not only shares the wonderful cultures and tradi…

Central and Eastern Kenya: Days 5-11: Ketebul Studios, Nairobi Story

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…yer who was the first ‘secular player’. He often visited Wanganangu’s homeland and recruited Wangangangu to pursue a musical career. We recorded 6 songs with Wangangangu over two sessions: Cal Wa Kadogo Ngurumo ya Saba Saba Muhiki Nyakairo Maito Njeri Rocine Kerokp Muumboro Osumba Rateng We first worked with Osumba during our trip to Nyanza in 2011; he is the founder of the Sega Sega band and ‘Flora’ remains a Singing Wells favourite. He is one of…

Central and Eastern Kenya: Day 4 – Nkubu to Mukuuni to Nairobi Story

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…ons, during harvests, births, weddings, marriages. The play the Mwinjira (Drums) and Biringi (Whistle). This was a tricky set to record because they are such vibrant performers, racing all over the place. When we tried to contain them to get good vocals, we lost the explosive force of the drums. When we let them run wild it was pretty difficult to get a good vocal or audio take. Also, we were accidentally constraining them by asking them to go thr…

Happy new year from Singing Wells News

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…s YouTube channel. Our channel features videos from our trips across Kenya and Uganda, including visiting the tribes of the Kenyan Coast, Central and Eastern Uganda, our work to share the music of the Batwa community and the Luo community. We’ve told the story of repatriating Kenya’s music heritage after 50 years and celebrated magic moments – where we’ve found an extra-special artist on our journeys and recorded their work. 7. We spoke to a young…

We’re discovering the lost music of the Ugandan Kingdoms News

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…me background and the beginning of our journey to discover the lost royal drums of the Buganda Kingdom Context on the Entenga royal drums we’ve been searching for The story of Musisi – a drummer from the royal palaces and the fall of the Buganda Kingdom Some information on the progress of the Bigwala trumpets – an instrument we restored on a previous field trip Interviews with the palace players and a great deal of information on the art of drum m…

Central and Eastern Kenya: Day 3 – Nkubu to Mariene to Murungurune to Nkubu Story

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This day is mostly about the Ameru, or Meru, and their dance troupes. We recorded 32 separate songs across 5 performers in four separate locations. On the way, we learned a lot of detail of the boys’ rite of passage through circumcision. After breakfast (each of us coming at separate times), we travelled an hour to Mariene, to record our first group on the grounds of the New Apostolic Church. This was our route: It was a lovely location, deep in…

Singing Wells surpasses 500,000 YouTube hits! News

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world. Recording Nyerere Wa Konde Music Club perform in Gede, Kilifi, Kenya on our Singing Wells Pilot trip in 2011. A brief collage of the story of the recording of the music of The Batwa in Uganda and then back in Nairobi at Ketebul Studios. The Watmon Cultural Group, recorded in December 2012. The Elgon Ngoma Troupe sing about the circumcision ritual….

Central Uganda: Day 7 – A Magic Day in Entebbe Story

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…er time with us about hearing the sounds of African music. Last night, she and Andy played together, with Andy working out a guitar part. So first, we recorded the two of them. Then, we decided that if she was writing about hearing the sounds of African music, she should hear the sounds. So James worked with Jovah on a beautiful line, where she sang about the Batwa people being driven from the parks. Then Passy worked on a separate melody line fol…

Meeting Ketebul: an interview with Tabu News

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…rican heritage. Many of the musicians we record from remote tribes are old and we run the risk of the traditional music in Kenya dying out, we don’t want to see that happen. Further, most recording studios are in the city: Nairobi. It’s not possible for those living in the villages to come here, so if we don’t go to them to record, these guys may never be heard and the music will be lost.We play a very important part of bridging the gap between yo…