Kalani: African Accents

By Kalani Originally published in DRUM! Magazine’s December 1999 Issue

Kalani has performed and/or recorded with Kenny Loggins, David Sanborn, Max Roach, Barry Manilow, John Mayall, Dr. John, Jeff Porcaro, Michael Kamen and Melissa Manchester, and is the featured percussionist on the Yanni Live at the Acropolis video and CD. He has produced nine instructional videos on hand drumming and several CDs. TiribaTiriba is a very old rhythm originally from western Guinea. According to Mamady Keita, this rhythm was first played by the Landuma people for feasts. The Landuma performed this rhythm on a drum called a drumond, a barrel-shaped drum with a single head, played with the hands, not unlike a conga. During the celebration, a masked dancer performs, taking the name Tiriba for that time. The second phase of the rhythm was its use in the initiation of young girls, when they would receive secrets of womanhood from their mothers. (Sorry guys — women only!)

The third and current phase is its use in marriage and general celebration. This transcription is a Malinké arrangement for djembe and dundun, taught during Mamady’s visit to the United States in September 1998. This rhythm is generally played very fast — like strap-yourself-in-and-hold-on fast. I recommend listening to players like Mamady to help with your understanding of the music, phrasing and attitude of performance. You can hear Mamady’s version of Tiriba on his CD, Wassolon. Note how the drum-set reduction focuses on the dununba part and the corresponding 3 over 2 phrasing in the hi-hat part. If you don’t have djembes and dunduns, you can play these rhythms using congas for the djembes and toms for the dunduns; high tom = kenkeni, mid tom = sangban and floor.