June 2006

This afternoon we were busy editing the Ngoma Vuma Afrika website – and added Peter Okeno‘s story on how the group started. Here it is:

“As I walked from where I stayed in the North-West University Potchefstroom Campus I thought of the time when I was wtith Victor Savani in Kenya in the same secondary school. I taught him how to play tumba drums though he was a super isikuti drums player and currently he has his own group touring all over the world and they are famous.

I was also in the same school with George Mutunga. I taught him how to play drums. He also became a very good player and he has combined drumming with gymnastics and acrobatics and he is doing very well touring all over the world with his group.

The question came to my mind : What about starting a percussion group?

I recalled the moments when I appeared in Potchefstroom with the help of Prof. Jacques van der Elst in 2002, I had a concert titled Kenyan rhythms with colleagues whom I taught at the music school in the North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus and it was successful.

I remembered the moments when I was David Nkosi’s drumming guru and when we played together and won many trophies in the talent festival.

I then laughed knowing that to some it will sound very weird to start a percussion group and have songs to produce or even have a captivating and entertaining performance. I imagined how people will perceive it but I was happy since I knew my vision and how to accomplish it.

I thanked God and decided to go and talk to Horst Butow about it. By then I had reached the Law faculty which is not far from Horst Butow’s office. I booked an appointment to see him.

On the day of the appointment, I was excited. I shared my vision with him. Having a lot of experience in arts and culture as a lecturer, manager, assessor, advisor and a producer – he looked at it in all angles, asked many questions which was a brain opener. He then advised that we have a small group from the Serenaders Choir, try it out and see its viability on the tour to Germany.

We went and purchased some percussion instruments including the djembe drums.I started training members from Serenaders Choir though it was a very frustrating endeavour since to many, it was strange but I pushed forward. I managed to teach a few songs and how to play some percussion instruments. It was difficult to find committed members on campus.

The group was ready by the time we went to Germany.

After several performances in Germany, Horst Butow called me and we had a very long discussion in the boat. The discussion was about the official start of a percussion group.

Coming back to South Africa Ngoma Afrika was born and it is still in existence as Ngoma Vuma Afrika.”

So this is how you start a percussion band – you have the story, all you have to do is : follow Peter’s example and start your own.

Click here to visit the groups site.

The guys from ccMixter just started an online collaboration site – this is what they say about the site:

If you’re an artist who’s using Creative Commons licenses (composer,filmmaker,writer,podcaster.. you name it!) it would be great if you would join. It will cost you nothing. Let’s build a collective, so we can share our opinions, our work and start collaborating.

There are so many open content sites out there – this is one way to bring them together and start remixing and build on each others work.

Click to visit and join the ccCreators site.

Creative Commons and the Fedora Project have launched an open video contest.

Click here to find out more.

Click to see Thabo Mafaese’s work on the Ikageng Arts and Crafts site.

While we are busy with online tools for musicians – here is a very informative post on podcasting – from the Magnatune blog.

Calabashmusic.com is an online music shop – which artists can use directly to sell their music. We visit the site every week and the Calabash blog is also on our blogroll.Artists definitely must know about sites like Calabashmusic.com – since the music industry is changing – selling your music in mp3 and other audio formats are becoming very popular – using the Internet to connect with music fans, market and sell music is becoming the way to go.

The open content / open source community is involved in a big way in this – if you are clever enough you can actually do it all yourself – lots of freely available open source tools are available for musicians to record, remix, publish, market and sell their work. Click here to read an article on this.

If you are a musician and would like to find out more about the process of signing up and selling your music through calabashmusic.com – click here to read all the info you need.

Calabashmusic.com is just one of the many sites that use online tools to sell and promote music in a new much more exciting ways – contact us if you have a specific question on this topic – or listen to this interview at Here On Earth radio with Brad Powell, President and Creative Director of Calabash Music.

I met Netanya in 2003 – and ArtMarketOnline started.

This art project evolved naturally from me wanting to get to know the diverse cultures of the land while teaching artists web design – and it all started with sitting down with Netanya and teaching her basic web design skills. She is definitely one of the most interesting South Africans I have ever met. Her creativity, determination and bravery is just simply unbelievable. You need to be brave to become a street trader. This is what she writes on her experiences:

At a point in my life, a street trader sold peanuts and raisons for me. He informed me of trading licenses and where to get them. I went to the Traffic Department Offices here, and asked whether or not I needed a trading license to set up a street stand. A woman there told me that I did not need one, because I was selling jewellery and not food. The only catch was that I could not sit in front of shops selling similar items, I could sit anywhere. Amen to free enterprise – or so I thought.

Click here to visit her site and read the rest of the article.

We have set up the website for our Ikageng Arts and Crafts group – click here to visit the site.

ccMixter has announced a new remix contest – click here for more info!

Click here to see a fascinating 20 minute video by Nate Harrison about the history of the Amen break – a 6 second drum loop that was first recorded in 1969.This short drum loop has been used many times in various compositions over the years – and is a great example of how creativity works and how we always build on the work of those before us.
If you like the video and the idea of using loops from other artists for your own songs – visit ccMixter to download freely available loops and you can also add your own for others to use.

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