Many years ago, I was introduced to the Aslatua. According to DjembeDirect.com, “the aslatua (ah-SLAH-too-uh) is a unique hand percussion toy that will capture your attention with its tricky polyrhythm. This simple instrument (also known as aslato, kashaka, cascas, televi, kasso-kassoni, and more) is played by holding one gourd in the palm while simultaneously shaking and swinging the second gourd. The gourds come from the Swawa tree in West Africa, which are dried, hollowed, filled with pebbles, and connected with a string. You’ll have hours of fun playing with this traditional African instrument.”
The first video (above) is a great freelance video of the Aslatua. If you are interested in learning how to play the aslatua, check out the instructional video below.
This video features the live performance from PASIC 2012 (November 3, 2012). The session was called “Steel Band Literature: Standards, New Directions, Styles and Sources” and was directed Tony McCutchen (Jacksonville State University), Dave Gerhart (CSU, Long Beach) and C. J. Menge (Inside Out Steel Band). The performance featured over 60 faculty members from the US performing new literature for steel band.
YouTube is an amazing resource for world music. Here’s a great example of some of the videos I have been watching lately. Amazing Balafon music from Africa. What have you been watching? Leave a comment below.
In the United States, and in Western cultures in particular, when we talk about solo xylophone, ragtime music is most likely to be one of the first things that come to mind. There are two important xylophone traditions that come from Africa: Balafon and Gyil. Both are incredible and worth spending exploring. Below is a video of Bassidi and Khalifa Koné from Mali. I have also included a link to a documentary they recorded with their father. Spend some time this week and check these out!