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publications – reviews

dancin’ on the time

Over the years I have reflected on my time and experience spent with royal hartigan. It becomes increasingly clear to me that he is one of the true human beings on planet Earth, albeit in a small and humble package. You might never realize it if you happen to pass royal as he jogs down the street in t-shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes – that there goes one of the most powerful spirits you could ever hope to encounter, musically or otherwise. It has truly been a pleasure to collaborate on this project with him. He. Has been my teacher and mentor in many ways, and I hope to be able to continue learning lessons in music and life for many years to come. I am so thankful our paths crossed and forever grateful for the many gifts received.

Murray Gusseck
Tapspace Publications Co-Founder

West African Rhythms for Drumset

This is a significant bridge between African Music and Western forms. Over the years several musicians in the West have experimented with African music and instruments. This is the first comprehensive work that brings the sound, feel, and spirit of West African music to the drumset. I heartily recommend this unique book.

C. K. Ladzekpo
Professor, African Music Dance and Culture, University of California, Berkeley

This book is great and the playing on the CD is terrific! The rhythms remind me of my native Cuba, as well as Brazil, Panama, the Dominican Republic and all the other islands that have come from the source – West Africa. A very impressive work.

Ignacio Berroa

These rhythms will challenge you, inspire you and make you want to dance! Many thanks to Royal Hartigan for presenting this material that is simultaneously funky, swinging, complex and organic in such a clear fashion. Now we can draw upon rhythms that have developed over centuries and play them on drumset. I’m sure you’ll be hearing these grooves on records for years to come.

John Riley

This book made me realize where a lot of the beats we play in New Orleans came from – the mother beat. No matter what, we are an extension of tradition. This book gives us the information to extend, apply and grow.

John Vidacovich

Blood Drum Spirit: Drum Languages of West Africa, African America, Native America, Central Java, and South India

Blood Drum Spirit is a study that focuses on West African and African American music. The research is conducted through the eyes of master drummers in each tradition – Ghanaian artists Freeman Kwadzo Donkor and Abraham Kobena Adzenyah and New Orleans legend Edward Blackwell – and also includes a stylistic history of the drum set in African American music. Three additional sections treat the adaptation of Native American, Javanese, and South Indian drumming and drum languages to the drum set. The research consists of interviews and performances of music by master artists from each world tradition. These sessions are recorded, transcribed and analyzed. Master artists/scholars Paul Hadzima, Mixashawn, and David McAllester give insights on Native American music; Sumarsam and I. M. Harjito focus on Central Javanese drumming; and Tanjore Ranganathan outlines South Indian karnatak music.

The topics arising from the research on West African and African American music include timbral and technical parallels; individual rhythmic correspondence and adaptation; the phenomenon of multiple rhythmic perspectives in ensembles; the role of notation; possible methods for the study, performance, and teaching of these traditions; moral aspects of the music and their use; and a personal sense of shared heritage.

In the section on West African music, we investigated 35 traditional pieces, which include recreational, ritual, harvest, warrior, funeral, court, and ceremonial music. We also studied contemporary Highlife drumming.

Javanese drumming patterns are recorded and transcribed, as well as South Indian solkattu (rhythmic syllables) phrases and compositions, and the 175 tala (time cycle) forms of South Indian karnatak (classical) music.

Percussionists will find that over 900 transcriptions of Native American, Javanese, South Indian, West African, and African American patterns are a multitude of time and rhythmic complexes distributed through the drum set in original and challenging ways that require and promise a high level of mastery.

The result of our efforts is a comprehensive body of musical techniques, styles, and theoretical-aesthetic issues, which are assembled for the first time in a systematic and detailed manner. They offer a unique resource to scholars, practicing musicians, and general readers interested in music and culture.  

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