Tag Archives: rhythm river music

Mantra Modes Revived

Mantra Modes

Mantra Modes, The Artistry of Abdullah Ibrahim, was one of my very first web initiatives. It was developed in 1996 and then published as part of the old Hoon Web. I have dragged it into the 21st century after the site had been off the stove top for six years.

Mantra Modes is attached to the squareONE web domain, and linked via nogutsnoglory studios, my music-oriented blog. I also hope to give some attention to Rhythm River, the squareONE site focused on the Rhythm River imaginal musicology experiential learning tool.

If you are unfamiliar with Abdullah Ibrahim, he is without any question the most sophisticated and subtle–and it could be argued–important, musician the continent of Africa has produced so far. Born in South Africa in 1934, Ibrahim, once known as Dollar Brand, returned to a free South Africa in 1995. He has been playing, performing and recording his distinctive South African people’s music since the late fifties.

I could go on and on about Dr. Ibrahim because he is second-to-none for me. Suffice to hope you’ll investigate his artistry anyway you can. I’ll be slowly updating the Mantra Modes blog. | RSS |

Here’s a taste via youtube.

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The Gnawa are a syncretic sect inflected by elements of Mystical Islam and North African local religious themes. In the West they have become well known for their public music, based in rugged hypnotic pentatonic vamps played on the guembri, a kind of proto-lute with a rubbery twang, and accompanied by percussion, singing and the clatter of metal clappers called krakebs.

It’s literally entrancing music. Gnawa music is embedded in holistic cultural practices but the Gnawa have also hit the road to great acclaim, playing ensemble music for audiences worldwide. The American jazz musician, the musical and physical giant Randy Weston has integrated Gnawa music in his own compositions. I first heard the Gnawa sound via Weston, and also had the great pleasure of hearing him lecture on the Gnawa. After the lecture we shared a moment talking about the picture of trance music in North and South Africa. This made for a memorable afternoon and set me off to investigate the musical culture of North Africa and the Sahel.

There are lots of good resources on the web. Number one is Gnawa Stories

Shamanic practitioner Nicholas Breeze Wood provides a concise overview of the Gnawa music ceremony in Acrobat form.

I’ve incorporated a section on Berber and Gnawa music in my Rhythm River programs.

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