The Toumaranke Recording Project Diaries. Day 3.

Day 3. 12th Nov 2015.

Moussa and I are listening to yesterdays Tellamou Tellamou (TT) track which is good. Maybe we’ll get a better recording today but also maybe not. Bread arrived (hooray for the reliable Baccarri), porridge ready, new sack of charcoal ordered (from Adromane, he has a shop halfway between us and town, 5 mins cycle – also our main source of phone credit, fags, other small necessities).  All under control so far. I had hoped to do at least some of the cooking using the peanut-shell briquettes but we’ve not had time to get hold of any.  I can’t see my having enough free time or energy to get this sorted now so will just have to let go of the idea and resign myself to us cooking with charcoal. We use charcoal, rather than firewood (which is cheaper) because it’s less smokey. The first workshop we ever ran we used firewood and Hadja got a cough from inhaling so much smoke for a week so we either use a mixture or just charcoal these days.

Spoke too soon, charcoal is a problem; Adromane has run out apparently. So Moussa has gone to help Oka look for some.  Bit of a misunderstanding about time. Moussa seems to have told the rest of the band to be here for 9.30, I had said 9 (in the hope that they would then actually be here by 9.30!). So breakfast, the turai gelte ‘porridge’ (rice, powdered peanuts, sugar, and we’ve got local honey to mix in it too) now getting cold. All very quiet here. The sound of birds and the fan palm rustling (now much diminished as all the dead leaves have been removed). Modu is around, working on some structure or other (he seems to have construction as well as electrical skills) and Marriama has just walked past with baby Kaddy (who allowed Moussa to take her from Marriama and walk around holding her yesterday, much to his delight). Martin is still in his room. We worked really hard yesterday and he’s still tired from travelling and culture shock too.

Bit of a late start but we’ve now got a good take of TT and also, we think E Degi E Dundun (which is how I’m currently spelling the ‘Inside the chickens’ mouth’ track – CM). The technology seems a bit temperamental today, Martin has had to reload the programme several times and there have been ‘glitches’, but the band are in good spirits and are coping well with instructions to stop and start again. Moeses’ cold is a lot better, Moussa now has a slight cold but his voice is ok, let’s hope it stays that way! Esconte arrived with Moussas guinea Balafon which we’d given him to tune, sounds fantastic. We had a lovely treat with Momadou Ba, our griot Balafon player, playing it to test it, beautiful. Everyone is more relaxed today (except me) and it’s all flowing nicely. I’m a bit nervous about playing Balafon accompaniment on the CM track.  GambiaNOV14 113

It’s now the last session of the day. We’re on Lanyi (peace) which is now sounding good. This afternoons sessions have been a bit tense in terms of people not getting arrangements right – particularly the drummers and particularly the into – and Moussa getting a bit uptight with them but it’s still generally good natured. He tends to expect them to get it right first time and I think there is sometimes a bit of conflict over doing it the way he says (they are mostly his arrangements however and we did say at the meeting at the beginning that he was ‘boss’ musically and had the final say). I don’t play anything on Lanyi so have taken more photos and video. It’s always a bit strange watching and not playing but I’ve got the period from hell so in some ways it’s a bit of a relief too.

GambiaNOV14 140

The band went home early as they had to go and fetch water. The place they are staying has no tap or well and the nearest well is a bit of a distance so they wanted to get it done before it was too late. We used the time to do a couple of overdubs, Moussa with gongo and vocals for TT and CM. He’s very impressive; just needed one take for everything. It’s his music and he’s been carrying it in his head for ages but still, impressive. The limitations of having only two mikes and two pairs of headphones are starting to be apparent. It doesn’t matter instrumentally but it’s difficult to know what to do about the singing as it’s not possible to do one take instrumentally then a second with singing (which I’d hoped we could do, the singing being the least polished part of it all). Adding moussas voice ‘on top’ seems to be working tho.   GambiaNOV14 174

I’ve now done all the tracks that I’m playing Balafon accompaniment for apart from the instrumental ones. These will be easier for me anyway as there will only be the three of us playing and all I have to do is hold the pattern steady while they solo because there will be no singing. This will be a walk in the park compared to trying to hold a steady tempo with six other people and joining in with singing arrangements which seem to be different every time we do them!  We’ve not practised these since I was here in August and I have a feeling that we’re not going to. Neither Moussa nor Mamadou Ba need to practise soloing however and maybe it will be good if we don’t as then the tracks will have a really ‘fresh’ feel.  We’ll just do everything that I can play well and see what comes out best.

Terrible menstrual cramp, went to bed early. Martin & Hadja stayed up playing cards (she won 3/5).


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