Soboninkun

This rhythm is a dangerously funky mixture of 4/4 and 12/8. So dangerous in fact, as to compel Paul Nas to write in his excellently informative description of Soboninkun:

"It is actually dangerous to try and give an accurate notation of this rhythm..."

This floating between timings is hard to do but has incredible results. I first learned this rhythm from Moctar "Mockoulo" Sawane, where it mostly went **WHOOSH** right over our heads! My notation below is compiled from that awesome session, along with study of Mamady's recordings on his albums "Wassolon" and "Balandugu Kan" and his excellent book and Paul's notation mentioned above. See also these two videos of Farafina playing and singing it.

NOTE: This rhythm is totally different from the "Sobonen Kun II" which appears on Famoudou Konate's album "Hamana Mandenkono".

Song

This is from Mamady's album "Wassolon" - the whole verse is sung call and response:

130bpm 12/8 1&-2&-3&-4&-
            r rlrlrl r l
Shakers     X.XxxxXx.X.x
Woodblock   xx.xx.xx.xx.

  Mory le, dya n'di wa omori fe,     (men start off singing the response alone)
  Soboninkun Mory le,
           dya n'di wa omori fe,     (women join the men, in high octave)
  aiye

("I am going with Mory,
  Mory who carries the mask of Soboninkun,
  I am leaving with Mory")


After the song, Mamady goes straight into the Main Rhythm, but we like Mockoulo's cool Intro, so we do that first... The song also recurs later with the Main Rhythm (quieter) underneath.

Intro

130bpm 4/4  1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&-
Signal      o.OO.O.OO.S.S..B + The signal is always played in a 4/4 feel!
Djembes     S.S.S.S.S.S.S..S   All drums in unison
Bells       x.x.x.x.x.x.x..x
Dun Duns    D.D.D.D.D.D.D..D   Then start Main Rhythm...


Main Rhythm

130bpm 12/8 1&-2&-3&-4&-   (played in 12/8 floating over 4/4)
            r lFrlr lFrl
Djembe 1    S.SoOOS.SoOO   The second flam-note should be slightly delayed
            r lrrlr lrrl
Djembe 2    S.SSOOS.SSOO   The first tone is slightly delayed

                      $ = start here
Bell 1      .xx.xx.xx.xx
+Sangban    g.g..G.GG...

Bell 2      xx.xx.xx.xx.
+Kenkeni    k..KK.k..KK.

                      $
Bell 3      .xx.xx.xx.xx
+Dununba    ....D.....D.
130bpm 12/8 1&-2&-3&-4&-

Bell 3      .xx.xx.xx.xx
+Dun. Var   ....D...D.D.   drop this extra note in occasionally :-)

With just the Dununba+Bell 3 part, it's very hard to hear the downbeat in the right place. The best advice is pace out the strong beats on 1, 2, 3, 4 with your feet: Right, Left, Right, Left.

Djansa.be's notation also lists a Djembe 3 playing "Round the back". They have the solo slightly different.

Djembe 2 is Rythme Populaire, slightly stretched into a 12/8 feel, so be sure to keep the hands the same; compare:

130bpm 12/8 1&-2&-3&-4&-
            r lrrlr lrrl
Djembe 2    S.SSOOS.SSOO

130bpm 4/4  1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&-
            r  lr rlr  lr rl
Djembe 2    S..SS.OOS..SS.OO


Break

from Mockoulo in 3 sections, the last of which is an extended Intro:

Section A of Break:    $ response enters early here

130bpm 4/4  1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&-
Signal      o.OO.O.OO..BSSSS
Djembes     B.SSB.OOB..BSSSS +   1st time - Dun Duns carry on with their parts
Djembes     B.SSB.OOB...s..B +
Djembes     SOOSOOSOS..BSSSS +
Djembes     B.SSB.OOB..BSSSS +   2nd time
Djembes     B.SSB.OOB...s..B +
Djembes     SOOSOOSOS..BSSSS +
Djembes     B.SSB.OOB..BSSSS +   3rd time
Djembes     B.SSB.OOB...s..B +
Djembes     SOOSOOSOS..BSSSS +
Djembes     B.SSB.OOB..BSSSS +   4th time
Djembes     B.SSB.OOB...s..B +
Djembes     SOOSOOSOS..BSSSS +
Djembes     B.SSB.OOB...s..O     Together with Signal, then change to Section B:

Section B of Break:

Signal      o.OO.O.OO.S.S..O
Djembes     O.SS...OO.S.S..O +   1st time
Djembes     O.SS..S...S.S..O +
Djembes     O.SS...OO.S.S..O +   2nd time
Djembes     O.SS..S...S.S..O +
Djembes     O.SS...OO.S.S..O +   3rd time
Djembes     O.SS..S...S.S..O +
Djembes     O.SS...OO.S.S..O +   4th time
Djembes     O.SS..S...S.S..O     Together with Signal - get ready for slaps...

Section C of Break:

Signal      o.OO.O.OO.S.S..B
Djembes     S.S.S.S.S.S.S..S +   1st time - Dun Duns join Djembe parts
Bells       x.x.x.x.x.x.x..x
Dun Duns    D.D.D.D.D.D.D..D

Djembes     S...OOOOOOOOO..B +
Bells       x..............x
Dun Duns    D..............D

Djembes     S.OOOO.BS.OOOO.B +
Bells       x......xx......x
Dun Duns    D......DD......D

Djembes     S...OOOOOOOOO..B +
Bells       x..............x
Dun Duns    D..............D

Djembes     S.S.S.S.S.S.S..S +   2nd time (duns play but not written in here)
Djembes     S...OOOOOOOOO..B +
Djembes     S.OOOO.BS.OOOO.B +
Djembes     S...OOOOOOOOO..B +
Djembes     S.S.S.S.S.S.S..S +   3rd time
Signal      o.OO.O.OO.SSS...     And go back to Main Rhythm...


Section A of Break written again showing hands:

            f lr l rl  lrlrl     You may prefer different hands at the start
Signal      o.OO.O.OO..BSSSS

            r rlr rlr  lrlrl
Djembes     B.SSB.OOB..BSSSS +   1st time - Dun Duns carry on with their parts

            r rlr rlr   f  l
Djembes     B.SSB.OOB...s..B +

            rlrlrlrlr  lrlrl
Djembes     SOOSOOSOS..BSSSS +

Section B of Break written again showing hands:

            f lr l rl r l  l
Signal      0.OO.O.OO.S.S..O

            r lr   lr l r  l
Djembes     O.SS...OO.S.S..O +   1st time
            r lr  l   r l  l
Djembes     O.SS..S...S.S..O +

Section C of Break written again showing hands:

            r lr l rl r l  l
Signal      o.OO.O.OO.S.S..B

            r l r l r l r  l
Djembes     S.S.S.S.S.S.S..S +   1st time - Dun Duns join Djembe parts

            r   rlrlrlrlr  l
Djembes     S...OOOOOOOOO..B +

            r lrlr lr lrlr l     or perhaps r rlrl lr rlrl l (hand-to-hand)
Djembes     S.OOOO.BS.OOOO.B +

            r   rlrlrlrlr  l
Djembes     S...OOOOOOOOO..B +


Solos

Here's a cool offbeat slap phrase at 1'47" on "Wassolon":

            1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&-
            .S..S..S.S...... +
            .S..S..S.S...... +
            .S..S..S.S..S..S +
            .S..S..S.S..S.OO +
            .S..S..S.S..S.OO +
            .S..S..S.S..S.OO   etc.

A cool variation of Break Section B occurs at 4'32" on "Wassolon":

            1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&-
            O.SS..SBo.S.S..O
Play Tone+Slap flam ^ here, with the Slap dead on beat 3

Here's a nice solo phrase that Mamady uses at various points, e.g. 2'41" on "Wassolon" which is developed at 0'31" on Track 8 of "A Life For The Djembe":

130bpm 4/4  1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&-
        l   Frlrlrlrl  lFrlr
        B | S3SSOOSSS..BS3SS | +
          | S.OO...........B | +
            l rl           l
          | S3SSOOSSS..BS3SS | +
          | S.OO...........S | +

            flr flr flr flr
            ___6___ ___6___
          | sSS sSS sSS sSS  | +   Echauffement in triplets
          | sSS sSS sSS sSS  | +
          | sSS sSS sSS s..  |     then Signal straight to Outro


Outro

130bpm 4/4  1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&- | 1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&-
Signal                       | o.OO.O.OO.S.S..B +
Djembes     S.S.S.S.S.S.S..S | S...............   Finish on final downbeat
Bells       x.x.x.x.x.x.x..x | x...............
Dun Duns    D.D.D.D.D.D.D..D | D...............   All drums play Outro in unison


Structure:
Signal, Intro,
Main Rhythm, Signal, Break, Signal,          Repeat this section
Main Rhythm, Echauffement+Signal, Outro

Key to notation

(c) Traditional Guinean rhythm taught by Moctar "Mockoulo" Sawane on 2007-08-04 at African Drum Village in Scotland.
(notated by Malcolm Smith on 2007-09-15 and completed on 2009-08-08, some additional solos added 2010-09-26)