Aural and written music traditions: a drumming ensemble case study

  • Michael Thorn South African College of Music, University of Cape Town, Private Bag, Rondebosch, 7701, South Africa


This essay focuses on a transcription of a recording of ‘Creative from Guinea\', a piece composed and taught to me orally by Atsu Dagadu of Ghana. The transcription is innovative, combining West African drum language mnemonics and the Time Unit Box System in a hybrid transcription system which I devised. I drew on my experience as a student of drumming as well as a single recording in prioritising transcription decisions. The transcription draws attention to the structure and arrangement of ‘Creative\', and provides an accurate score for educational use to correct memory errors. I discuss transcription as facilitating internalisation and understanding, fitting together with transmission, memory and preservation of music.

Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa Volume 4 2007, 55–70

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2070-626X
print ISSN: 1812-1004