In Senegal the Sabar drum was used to communicate in villages over long distances.  The rhythms would emulate spoken phrases which could then be heard for over 15 kilometers.  The Sabar is played with a stick in the right hand striking a high pitched accent while the left hand plays both a tenor rim beat or a center bass beat.  Sabar rhythms are very fast and often emphasize upbeats giving them a very excited and even frenetic mood. 

There are several different kinds of Sabar that are played by different members of an ensemble. The lead drummer orchestrates the group and plays syncopated counterpoint to the fundamental rhythm of the song.  The rhythms are very unpredictable with the lead drummer continually keeping the audience in a state of surprise as he guides the performance, often dancing, gesturing and moving about the stage to interact with different drummers and the audience while performing.

Sabar is often accompanied by call-and-response chants between the lead drummer, the ensemble and the audience.  However, songs are dominated by the drums themselves and the melodies are only an occasional accompaniment.

Doudou N'diaye Rose and his family have been performing and teaching Sabar drumming and dance around the world.
Senegalese Sabar Drumming
More on Sabar (Japanese)
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