There are other versions of this rhythm, both binary (in 4/4) and ternary (in 12/8 like this one), but this (which came from Vieux Bakayoko) is our favourite, and I've not seen it notated anywhere. One day I may also notate the 4/4 binary version, but until then see it in Mamady's book.

Woima is played for the conjurers who travel from village to village performing their magic tricks. So we use the word 'prestidigitation' (meaning 'sleight of hand') to remember the tune.

Main rhythm

>120bpm 12/8 1&a2&a3&a4&a   ("One and a Two and a Three and a Four and a...")
             rlr rlr lr l  
Djembe 1     OOS.SSB.SB.S   ("Ma-gic trick, prestidi--------gitat------ion!")
              lr lr lr lr
Djembe 2     .BS.OS.BS.OS   ("   It's pink  & blue    It's pink      & blue")
             1 & a 2 & a    ("One                 Two                      ")

Bell         x.x.x.x.xx.x   ("One   two   three   four    and five     and ")
Bell         x.x.x.x.xx.x   ("-ble  one   one     one     dou-ble      dou-")
+Kenkeni     ..K.....K...   ("      up                    up               ")
+Sangban     G...G....G..   ("Down        down,   [rest]      down         ")

Bell         x.x.x.x.xx.x   ("One   two   three   four    and five     and ")
Bell         x.x.x.x.xx.x   ("-ble  one   one     one     dou-ble      dou-")
+Dununba     D...D.D..D..   ("One         three   four        five         ")

The dun duns can be played by one person on Sangban+Kenkeni and another on
Dununba. Both parts have the same bell part, which plays all the strong notes
of Djembe 1. (The counting up to 5 in the bell/dun parts is not the number of
beats, just a convenient way to say it.)

Djembe 2 is a tricky offbeat 12/8 accompaniment, basically a time-shifted
version of "Round The Back"/"Pam-pi-tam" delayed by two notes, with an added
bass note before. Although it's best to not think of it as "Round The Back",
but a completely different rhythm, so you still know where the downbeat is.
It takes skill to not be phased by Djembe 2 when playing other parts.

Break 1

            lr l rlr lrlrr l rlr lr
Signal:     BS.S.OOS.SSOOS.S.BOB.OB..   (Signal is called over the rhythm)
 over        rlr rlr lr lrlr rlr lr
Djembe 1     OOS.SSB.SB.SOOS.SSB.SB..   (Djembe 1 leaves off last slap)
Bells        x.x.x.x.xx.xx.x.x.x.xx..   (So do the Bells)
+Sang+Keni   G.K.G...KG..G.K.G...KG..
+Dununba     D...D.D..D..D...D.D..D..

Break 1      rlr rlr rl lr l r l lr
Djembes      OOO.OOO.OS.SO.S.O.S.SO..   (Then everyone responds in unison...)
Bells        xxx.xxx.xx.xx.x.x.x.xx..   ("Come and play, come and play,
+Sang+Keni   GGG.GGG.GK.KG.K.G.K.KG..     don't let this too hard stuff
+Dununba     DDD.DDD.D...D...D....D..     put you off!")

Break 2

Signal:        S.OS                     (Short signal)
                   *  $                 (Everyone stops dead at *)
             rlr rl   rlrl r            (Then at $ everyone responds...)
Djembes      OOS.SS...OOSS.S.........
Bells        x.x.x....xxxx.x.........
+Sang+Keni   G.K.G....GGGG.G.........
+Dununba     D...D....DDDD.D.........   (Long gap then onto next line...)

               r l r     r lr lr lr
Djembes      ..S.O.S.....S.OS.OS.OS..
Bells        ..x.x.x.....x.xx.xx.xx..
+Sang+Keni   ..K.G.K.....K.GK.GK.GK..
+Dununba     ..D.D.D.....D..D..D..D..   (Then we return to the Main Rhythm)     

The long gaps in the middle are great when played silently without bells,
shakers or ankle bells, just using our inner telepathic timekeeping.

Notice that Break 2's Signal is the same as Djembe 2's offbeat part, so the
leader must make it a clear Signal using body language, posture, dynamics,
stopping playing beforehand, etc. And the response in the last line starts
with a straighter rhythm: ..S.O.S. instead of ..S.OS in the Signal.


  1. Break 1
  2. Main Rhythm
  3. Break 1
  4. Main Rhythm
  5. Break 2
  6. Main Rhythm
  7. Break 2
  8. Main Rhythm
  9. Echauffement
  10. Break 1

Key to notation

(c) Traditional Guinean rhythm from Vieux Bakayoko, taught by Justine at Vitae Drum Circle.
(notated by Malcolm Smith on 2012-11-21 + 2014-09-02)