Come Africa 2

I hope this is not too much too soon, but I'd love to hear from you folks what you think of a piece of mine based on African folk tunes, that I call Come Africa 2. (Yes, there is a Come Africa 1 as well.)

I have enjoyed writing pieces based on old traditional folk songs of many regions, as I find these old songs fresh and free of our homogenized musical world, (where now almost everything seems to contain the same "pop" rhythms, harmonies and instrumentation.) This particular composition is for full orchestra, with augmented percussion.

Accompaning notes:

Three simple tunes form this movement, each created for their joyful beauty and celebratory innocence.

(1)Olele Moliba Makasi (Congo)
The song lyrics refer to the Kasai region of the Republic of Congo, which shares its name with the Kasai river, described by the explorer Henry Morton Stanley as “a powerful and deep river.” Benguela is a cold current off the southwest coast of Africa which brings winds. A railroad built by the Portuguese government used the same name. It gave access to the central Angolan plateau and the mineral wealth of the Congo Free State. Construction began in 1903 and was completed in 1929.

Olele! Olele! The current is very strong.
Row! Row! His country, his country is the Kasai.
Olele! Olele! The current is very strong.
Eheho, eh eh eheho, Let Benguela come!
Come, come! The courageous one.
Come! Come! The generous one.
Come! Come!
Olele! Olele! The current is very strong.
- - - - - -
(2) Si Si Kumbale (South Africa)

Seed Sowing Song. This gentle tune was sung by farmers to bless the seeds being planted and to appeal to the universe for an abundant harvest.

Lyrics: None available.
- - - - - -
(3) Mayo Nafwa (Bemba people of Zambia)

Lyrics (roughly translated) offer a celebratory ascension song about one who has died.

Mayo Dies, Mayo dies and leaves.
Where does he go? Where do we keep him?
Then in the sky. Here in the sky with clouds.
With the ants, with the ants and lizards.
When he leaves.
When he leaves.

Please let me know what you think.



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  • Hi, Ken- this is so nicely done. Sonically and rhythmically a joy. First class percussion orchestration and your transitions from movement-to-movement were great, probably because those were tasteful, not overdone, and made me think, ok… what’s coming?

    I’m not familiar yet with your sonic signature and I plan to become familiar listing to your jazz works, which I’ve started doing. I’m wondering, though, on this piece some of the brass and mid and lower strings border on what I though might be venturing into the territory of electronic timbre. I happen to love the effect and it reminded me of what I’ve heard sometimes from Mannheim Steamroller. I was wondering, then, was that your intention? Anyway, I love what you’re presenting, for what it’s worth. -Ray
    • Hello Ray -
      Gosh, I'm glad you enjoyed Come Africa 2! These old African tunes just beg for symphonic treatment, especially if one keeps in mind the love of percussion and percussive effects in that part of the world. I've also come to really admire the emphasis in African folk music of humanity and love, especially for children. It is great to work with this kind of material and culture.
      Regarding electronic timbre, I must admit that this piece was done several years ago when I was still learning how to use Notion 6 and despaired of their samples being rather thin sounding. (I used to sit in the middle of orchestras and know how big and full they sound live.) Trying to re-create this fullness, I may have gone a bit overboard with mixer equalization. I have a real love / hate relationship with Notion. While it allows me to bring to life my musical thoughts, it also is quite eccentric, (at least the Mac version), and does weird things. I suppose I should use a more professional music software, but frankly, I can not afford them. Notion does a lot for a little.
      Thanks -
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