This is an initiation rhythm, of which there are many versions. Our favourite is known as Soli Rapide, which we alternate with Soli Boba. There is also a slow version called Soli Lent, and yet another called Soli Des Manians ("Soli of the Manian people") which has a charming song which I'll maybe try to include here one day too.
>120bpm 12/8 1&a2&a3&a4&a ("One and-a Two and-a Three and-a Four and-a...") Signal o.OO.OO.OO.. r rl r rl Djembe 1 S.OS..S.OS.. ("Round the back, Round the back") Djembe 2 S..SOOS..SOO ("fag, 'aving a fag, 'aving a") r lrlr lrl $ Bell 1 Easy x..x..x..x.. ("fag, 'aving a fag, 'aving a") Bell 1 Alt. x.x...x.x... ("burning, London's burning, London's) Bell 1 Hard x.x.xxx.x.xx ("burning, London's burning, London's) Bell 1 Trad. .xx.xx.xx.xx (Traditional version with nothing on beat 1) +Kenkeni ....KK....KK $ Bell 2 x.x.x.x.xx.x +Sangban G...g.g..G.. $ Bell 3 x.x.x.x.xx.x +Dununba D.D.....DD.D ("Dun Duns... Let's play the") (Count) 1&a2&a3&a4&a Kenkeni Bell 1 Hard is only playable when slow, so when going faster play other Kenkeni Bell 1 parts instead. But your goal should be to master the Traditional version; it's seriously mesmeric when you get it, if you can get it! This leads to a whole world of polyrhythmic nirvana, so it is well worth practising! Try walking your feet in time: 1..2..3..4.. to have something to bounce off onto the offbeat bell and drum notes. The Dununba player comes in early, on the count of "and 4". Mamady's book says the Sangban player comes in at the start, but it makes more sense and sounds better to begin early with the Dununba, as their bell parts are identical.
We sing this at the beginning with just Dununba accompaniment:
Naaa, tolby talluraaah ("Mother, I am going into the forest!") Na ni fa tolby talluraaah ("Mother and Father, I am going into the forest!") Duniya, tolby talluraaah ("Everyone, I am going into the forest!") Na ni fa tolby talluraaah ("Mother and Father, I am going into the forest!")
This version of Soli came from Iya Sako via Justine Hart, who composed this nice Djembe Break to accompany the Dununba. At each call, we alternate from Soli Rapide to Soli Boba then back again. The Kenkeni stays the same throughout, but the Dununba and Sangban are different in Soli Boba.
$ Bell 1 Trad. .xx.xx.xx.xx (Traditional version with nothing on beat 1) +Kenkeni ....KK....KK Bell 2 x.x.x.x.x.x. +Sangban g.G...g.G... Bell 3 x.x.x.x.xx.xx.x.x.x.x.xx.x.x.x.x.x.x +Dununba D.......D..DD.......D.DD.D.D.D.D.D.D (Count) 1&a2&a3&a4&a1&a2&a3&a4&a1&a2&a3&a4&a Any Djembe players who know it can play this 12-beat phrase four times: (others carry on with Soli Rapide parts 1+2) >120bpm 12/8 1&a2&a3&a4&a Signal o.OO.OO.OO.. r f l Djembes B.s......B.. + B.s.......OO + B...OOB...OO r rlr rl On the fourth time, keep looping that last line while a 2nd part also enters: r rlr rl Djembe 1 B...OOB...OO ("Cake, pieco of cake, piece of...") r r l rlrl Djembe 2 B.S..S..SBOO + ("Cheese on toast, I'm eating my...") B.S..S..SBOO + BSSBOOBSSBOO rlrlrlrlrlrl (Count) 1&a2&a3&a4&a Carry on until the signal takes us back to Soli Rapide, or we end with an echauffement.
Key to notation
Traditional Guinean rhythm from
Mamady Keita and
Iya Sako, taught by
Justine (who composed the Djembe break for Soli Boba) at
Vitae Drum Circle.
(notated by Malcolm Smith on 2005-10-12 + song lyrics added 2010-03-11 + Soli Boba added on 2012-11-12, with minor edits on 2015-06-30)