Origins of rhythms and women’s bass playing in Cameroon
Many people have been asking me to write about my experiences, the process by which projects for my non-profit, organization, World Connection, unfold and come to fruition, and how being a female bass player has been an integral part of my humanitarian work.
In January I am going to Cameroon to study, research, document and,
• Focus on women bass players; and discover how and why playing musical instruments, and specifically bass guitar, is more accessible to women in Cameroon than in most other African countries, as well as in most other countries around the world
• Encourage and empower women in ways that help them to create artistic and economic possibilities for themselves and their families
• Learn, and be an example of a woman bass player who continues to explore and encourage others in their musical and artistic endeavors and adventures
It has been said that many of the bass lines in Cameroonian popular music originate from the women who play rhythms on the surface of the water of the rivers where they wash clothes. I am interested in documenting this tradition in action. Web 2.0 will allow sharing these kinds of musical and rhythmic realities with women in other parts of the world. Showing these village women can inspire young women that playing music is possible for them in spite of their sex. It can also help them to recognize their own natural talents for something that is perceived as coming from a predominantly man’s world.
Grandmothers, mothers, sisters and aunts supposedly play bass in Cameroon. Why is this acceptable? How and what can we as women from other cultures learn from these women? Music is universal. It is what moves people. How can I, as a female bassist, most effectively encourage my sisters around the world to follow and feed their souls and their creativity by following their musical/artistic paths? The Web 2.0 communication tool gives women around the world the opportunity to see and hear for themselves via photos, video, sound and descriptive text what really happens in these cultures and gives us the possibility to find ways of transposing and adapting to our own local cultures what we see the women in Cameroon doing.
Using the Web2.0 can have a direct effect on our sisters at home and around the world by showing examples of women’s musicality in action, by listening to the learned patterns that they probably just see as an action that makes the mundane task of washing clothes that much more interesting, fun and instructive. Just by wanting to record and document these women in their daily activity gives this seemingly banal chore a worthiness, a respect and a certain gravitas. I will on be there to listen and recognize these women as the gifted artists that they are, and ultimately share still and moving images along with the unforgettable sounds with the greater community.