Thomas Annand and David Day have come all the way from Ireland to prove that there’s far more to African drumming than monotonous banging. The pair specialise in traditional West African drumming and perform as part of ‘Sounds Global’ at the Scottish Museum, itself a small but fascinating exhibition. Free Fringe Music is on every day and is a fantastic excuse to visit the museum.
The pair’s music echoed around the cavernous gallery: the main instruments were the panola and djembe African drums on which they generate a surprising variety of sounds, pitches and dynamics, their dexterous technique being clear to see. Other percussion instruments (both drums and handheld) were also played. What was most impressive was their use of the aslatua: conker-like instruments that were shaken and rattled with masterful skill. Their multi-tasking was impressive, their drumming not only drumming evolving and complex polyrhythms but simultaneously chanting and, later, even doing some dancing. This being a museum, there was some welcome educational content in explaining the different instruments but all the while, the pair’s enjoyment spread across the grinning audience.
Audience participation played a large part in the show. Children and adults were invited to join in as a plethora of intriguing instruments were passed around. Any anxiety soon changed to enjoyment. There was call and response, freestyling and some singing; a few brave souls even got up to dance. The lack of rhythm from some participants put the professionals’ talents into sharp relief, but as Annang claimed, ‘we are all Africans today’, leaving us with ringing ears and smiling faces after forty five brief minutes.