Music 102, Polyrhythms as a Metaphor for Culture includes many aspects of polyrhythms as they occur in music and the drumming traditions of the African Diaspora and beyond. Participants familiarize themselves with Afro-Cuban (congas and chants), Afro-Brazilian (instruments of the Batucada and chants) and Senegalese (djembe and chants) drumming styles and techniques, and Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian dance styles (mambo, cha cha cha, and samba) setting the stage for an exploration of how polyrhythms can relate to our daily lives as human beings. The course follows the path of the African Diasporan drumming/rhythm journey as it travels from before slavery to present day popular music in the USA, demonstrating how polyrhythms can serve as a metaphor for culture.
Listen to and learn to play Afro-Cuban (congas), Afro-Brazilian (instruments of the Batucada) and Senegalese (djembe) polyrhythmic drumming styles and techniques;
Listen to and learn Afro-Cuban (congas), Afro-Brazilian (instruments of the Batucada) and Senegalese (djembe) chants; that accompany the above polyrythms;
Learn the mambo, cha cha cha, and samba that accompany the above polyrythms;
Develop an awareness of some of the most significant aspects of these different cultural worlds;
Explore and engage in a critical dialogue about the meaning of polyrthyms as a metaphor for the connections between different cultural worlds;
Required Websites, Materials & Texts,
Western States Center/Dismantling Racism
Short texts to support course objectives will be assigned by the instructor in class.
Information Regarding the Course
This course will be largely taught in a hands-on fashion. Students should come to class open in mind, body and spirit to be able to fully participate in learning the drumming techniques, chants, and dances from Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, and Senegalese traditions. Students will be expected to commit to memory all of the drumming techniques, chants, and dances, and should be prepared to lead the group in these expressions.
A guest Master drummer will be invited to the class. Students will culminate in a final performance of traditional drumming, chanting, and dancing.
Participants will keep a journal following each class.
After every class, students will write a critical, creative, and clearly written journal that focuses on exploring the relationship between polyrhythms, culture and their reflections on each class experience.
Students will undertake research that explores roots of Gospel, Blues, Jazz, R&B, Funk and Rock & Roll, and the links between African drums/music and Gospel, Blues, Jazz, R&B, Funk and Rock & Roll. Findings (information and recordings) will be evidenced in journals and presented orally in class.
The exam will consist of displaying each student’s proficiency on the drumming techniques, ability to sing the chants, and perform the dances that are being studied and practiced each week.
This exam will take the form of a culminating performance in which all students will take part, displaying what they have learned over the semester.