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Living Beats

Musical storytelling from a Senegalese percussion orchestra.


Then the real fun will begin. Others will jump in, first one at a time, then several, and finally a dozen at once until all 35 members are swaying and joyfully drumming. Each will be providing a rhythmic pattern or tonal color, and each will be in lock step with all the other rhythms and patterns, making for a rich, swirling mass of sound, almost cacophonous in its complexity, if not for its utter precision and disciplined order.

Rose, after stirring up this stew of flavors and accents, will then move on to his next role, that of conductor. With a subtle raising of an eyebrow or a flick of his baton, Rose will adjust the output of certain drums or sections, modifying volume and speed. He’ll shift the prominence of different sections in this swirling sea of sound, illustrating how the whole picture changes when a certain role is changed. And as the rhythms rise and fall and tumble into and out of each other, clashing here, resolving there, Rose’s manipulations will demonstrate that the composition has moved beyond mere music, becoming a living, breathing thing.

As each selection begins, Rose will likely explain the purpose of the piece. Some may be from ceremonies such as baptisms or weddings. Some may originally have been written to inspire warriors toward greater courage in battle. Some may have even been commissioned to tell the story of wrestling matches, with different drums and patterns illustrating the different strengths and weapons of the grapplers.

A national treasure in his native Senegal, Rose has composed Senegal’s national hymm, and is the lead percussionist in Senegal’s national ballet. He is a professor of music at the National Institute of the Arts in Dakar and is said to have invented 500 new rhythms in African percussion. No stranger to Western culture, Rose has also collaborated and performed with such artists as the Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel, Miles Davis, and Dizzy Gillepsie. For those who were fortunate enough to experience the power and magic of Master Percussionist Olatunji when he came to Richmond several years ago, the chance to see Rose and his family should be seen as an almost equal opportunity, and an opportunity not to be missed. S

Doudou N’Diaye Rose Percussion Orchestra performs at the Carpenter Center, 600 E. Grace St., Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $28.50 -$31.50 and can be purchased at 262-8100 or

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