Jiribilla and Tahona/Tajona

  I recently made another trip to the library and came across this excellent book "Rites of Rhythm The Music of Cuba" by Jory Farr. Jory makes several trips to Cuba and other Cuban music hotspots in America and interviews several key Cuban musicians including Miguel Anga Diaz, Jesus Alfonso Mira, Orestes Vilato and Chucho Valdes.
   Anyways I was reading the book and came across this paragraph where Juan Bautista Castillo Mustelier describes Jiribilla as a kind of dance related to a rhythm called Tahona. Juan Bautista is from Santiago and from mixed Cuban and Haitian background. This is what the book says.

When Bautista arrived in Santiago, he danced the rumba-but in the Tajona tradition...

"Many people think there are just three kinds of rumba. But there is really a fourth style, and I introduced this style into the repertoire of Cutumba and Conjunto Folklorico de Oriente when I was the directore of both groups" Bautista said.

In Tajona, the force of the music powers the dancer into what is called the jiribilla, where the man must create, very quickly and very powerfully, certain improvisations. The dancer reacts to the repique drum, which is akin to thee quinto but comes from dahomey. In fact I'd seen this the night before at Teatro Marti: a spectacular eruption of dancing that seemed like a controlled convulsiuon"

~Rites of Rhythm, pages45-46

   Anyways I have heard very little concerning exactly what Tahona is beyond the term being used in the title of this Chavlonga recording. Chavlonga is certainly an elder in rumba, and the rhythms in the recording sound different when compared to Los Munequitos for example. However I have not really done any in depth analysis of Chavlonga's record, assuming I even have the skill for such to be meaningful in any way. Still it's a fascinating subject, these old and obcsure rumbas.


Gon Bops Handle Project

A slow day like today is perfect for tinkering on drums. Today's project was putting a handle on my DW Gon Bops.  The maker of Gon Bops, Akbar Moghaddam, is very experienced and makes an incredible drum. However they have these ugly holes drilled into them in case the owner wants to mount them on a rack. They also have 2 metal labels and GB stamped into each lug plate. That is a lot of stuff on my sleek little quinto, so something had to be done.
I bought the Gon Bop to go with my set of Resolution Drums. My 9 3/4" DW Gon Bop is a smaller size than Resolution makes, and is the "requinto" for that set. However the main reason I bought it is because it matches them so well.  The red oak and hardware of the DW Gon Bop is very similar to the Resolution Drums, no big surprise there as both Ralph Flores and Akbar Moghaddam made Valjes at one time. Ralph Flores' father Tom Flores was the founder of Valje, and Akbar Moghaddam made Valjes here in San Francisco, prior to making his own Sol drums, which Akbar made before contracting to DW Gon Bops.
Okay so enough history. I called Ralph Flores and ordered a handle so I could put it on the Gon Bops. I like handles on my drums, and a Resolution handle would help the Gon Bop match even more. I positioned the Gon Bops label over the holes drilled for the rack mount to cover them up and hide them. Then I put the handle below that, similar to the way Resolution does it. Luckily the order of the staves was good, meaning I did not have to drill holes into a seam and weaken the drum. The handle for the Gon Bop had to go a little lower than the Resolution drum because the Gon Bop drum was taller.
A simple project really, even though it is always a little daunting to drill holes in a perfectly good drum. I think I have improved the look of the drum a bit by covering those holes, made it easier to move around and now my Gon Bop drum matches my Resolution drums just a little more. Certainly it should be obvious to anyone that it is part of the set.


Los Tambores Ararás, La Conga

     Well no sooner was I lamenting the fact that I missed the ebay auction of the Fernando Ortiz book in my earlier post , when I decided to check into my local library and see if they had a copy. They did not have a copy of The Scholar and The Collector, which I think would have been very cool. However they did have copies of La Africanía de la Música Folklórica Cubana and the book above Los Tambores Ararás, La Conga. La Africana did not have any images, it did have some somewhat hard to read handwritten transcriptions of bata rhythms. It is certainly the more scholarly book. This book, Los Tambores, etc is a small little pamphlet, only 66 pages long. I don't know if this book and the ones pictured in my previous post La Ekon, La Clave, Las Tumbas, and El Achere´, Los Chekere are all separate essays, or cheaply reproduced excerpts of Fernando Ortiz's larger work Los Instrumentos de la Musica Afrocubana. I suspect the later, as I have seen better quality scans of the book's photos, which I assume came from a more expensive book, which I further assume Los Instrumentos is. If only my Spanish was a little better, this would be a more interesting post.

   Fear not intrepid bloggers y rumberos, I may not be so fluent in Spanish, but I am handy with a scanner. So I've scanned some of the plates inside the book. The Arara drums are really interesting, and the captions to the plates are simple enough for me to translate. My favorite being this caption: 

Figura #12 . Tres congas de Guantanamo, con simbolos lucumies, congos, nanigos y cristianos.
   Which roughly translates to: 3 congas from Guantanamo, with Lucumi, Congo, Nanigo and Christian symbols. The Lucumi are descendents of the Yoruba in Cuba and the word Lucumi I have been told means friends. Congos refers to the Bantu in Africa. Nanigos refers to the Abacua and the last is of course Spanish Catholicism.

    Anyways, I'm lucky enough to live in San Francisco with it's large Spanish community, so I am happy to share these scans with you rumberos with less well stocked libraries.


Los Instrumentos De La Musica Afrocubana

    A couple of pictures of books about various rumba and folkloric instruments by the great Fernando Ortiz. I got these from the Yoruba Jazz blog. I love the look of those shekeres!!! Yoruba Jazz has a staggering array of music downloads as well as these pictures. I wish the books were downloadable as well.

  However some very generous people have offered other different articles to read regarding rumba instruments. I placed these links in the comments section in an earlier post, but I'm going to post them here as well.
The Cuban Rumba Box (Cajon)

   And of course the indomitable Barry Cox at Vamos a Guarachar has several links to rumba related documents and research as well.

   This last photo here I got from an ebay auction. I wish I had seen it while it was up, I would have bid for sure! It looks like a brilliant book; an copy of Fernando Ortiz's Los Instrumentos De La Musica Afrocubana and a photo essay of the Howard Familie's collection of Cuban instruments. Did I drop the ball on this one or what? Anyways if any of you out there in the blogosphere come across similar auctions alert me, or 'ahem' if you have a copy and feel like donating it to me, or selling it, I'm sure arangements can be made...