Nada Brahma Productions
World Music & Dance Explorations & Integrations

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Octavos

The Kenya Sing & Dance Choral Series

Since 1998, I have been making annual visits to East Africa, focusing on the southern region of the Eastern Province of Kenya. This area is known as Ukambani, the land of the Kamba people who are known in East Africa for their exciting approach to music and movement. I have compiled some of my favorite songs and dances of this region in my instructional package Kenya Sing & Dance, geared towards music teachers as well as any teacher who want to bring East African culture into the classroom. The Kenya Sing & Dance Choral Series serves as an extension of my research and is geared towards music teachers and choral directors.

Performance Suggestions:

One of the most exciting aspects of collecting music from this region of Kenya is the spontaneity and continuous variations of the songs. I have several recordings of the same song, but while the melodic structure may be the same in some cases, the words and movements vary greatly. It is my hope that the groups that perform these songs use my arrangements as a foundation for creating their own versions.

I have yet to experience any secular songs performed by the children in East Africa that didn’t involve movement. These songs can be performed standing still, but movement is what makes them come alive. I highly recommend viewing the field recordings and performances by Western children of these songs for inspiration and ideas for movement. There are no traditional movements for these songs. I suggest finding movements that are easy to articulate while singing the songs for your choir, particularly if your choir performs on risers. 
 
Most of the songs that I have collected include some rhythmic accompaniment, usually a goatskin-covered oilcan or most common, a plastic bucket. It is not uncommon to find these songs performed a cappella, however. If planning on using percussion, I recommend finding something that is easy to play and to keep the pattern simple, even if it is just a simple down beat. There are common drumming patterns for these songs, but nothing traditional.
 
When groups of children perform for me in East Africa, quite often I am presented with one continuous medley, sometimes going on for 10 minutes or more. These medleys work wonderfully as a set, but the individual songs can certainly be performed alone.

Click on an octavo image for detailed information and to view recordings.

'The Joy I Feel' sheet music cover     'Kenyan Welcome Songs' sheet music cover     'Kenyan Dances'' sheet music cover

 

Kudos:

The Kenya Sing & Dance Choral Series would not be possible without the support of Dan LeJeune and James Musyoka. Dan has offered endless enthusiastic support for all of my musical endeavors since ’93 and I am more than grateful for his transcriptions of these songs. Since ’98, James has been my right hand in East Africa, arranging performances, helping me record and giving me all necessary language support. James is also the director of Kenya Connect, an NGO that we co-founded and which the sales of this choral series helps to support.