Mesa College’s World Music Ensemble celebrate with African music

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Dr. N Scott Robinson, joined by members of the San Diego Mesa College World Music Ensemble, have a blast as they celebrate their rendition of Sina Wanyika.

Linda Nguyen, Staff Writer

The San Diego Mesa College World Music Ensemble, directed by Dr. N. Scott Robinson explores a variety of world music that is inspired by a mixture of different areas in Africa such as Uganda (East Africa), Ghana (West Africa), or Zaire (Central Africa) as well as more Western areas such as parts of Southern America and the Middle East.

The concert illustrates that although people may come from many different backgrounds, we can all come together with music. The ensemble’s usage of call and response patterns, polyrhythms, and mixture of unique instrumentation allows for the performers to really emphasize the idea that music is universal, no matter what background one may come from.

The San Diego Mesa College World Music Ensemble creates a feeling of unison in their music with their call and response pattern. In many of the pieces, whether it be with vocals, drums, or various instruments, a main line will start and be repeated throughout the piece by different parts of the group. This method of passing the melody along creates what is more commonly known as call and response.

The piece entitled Wavvangaya is a perfect example of call and response. To the audience, the piece sounds like one profound conversation between the right side of the ensemble and the left side. At the beginning, what sounds like a soft drizzle of rain becomes a roaring thunderstorm with the addition of all the new players. The effect of the piece leaves the audience dazzled, trying to listen for each new change.

Additionally, the ensemble’s use of polyrhythms is an intricate metaphor to show that people of different cultures playing different rhythms can join in together and make beautiful music. Polyrhythms is a style where one player may strike the drum on certain counts, leaving gaps in between for another player to join in and play in those gaps. Every player in the ensemble plays a role in the entire piece coming together in unison, but to the audience, we may just hear continuous music without any gaps.

The ensemble does this successfully with drums, rattles, bells, guitars, and pianos playing on different counts, but all coming together in the end to jam out in unison. Each player in the ensemble has a part and all the parts fit together like pieces of a puzzle.

At the end, after every one of the performers has added in, the audience sees the big picture as everyone playing in unison and having a great time, despite starting out in different parts.

Perhaps the most profound part about this concert is the fact that the different instrumentations used allows for the audience to really feel a sense of music unifying different cultures.

In one piece entitled Sina Wanyika, Scott Robinson has arranged an Afro-Cuban piece by mixing traditional African rhythms and instruments with more Latin inspired instruments and vocals. Robinson uses shakers, claves, and congas, but he also introduces an amped electric guitar along with multiple acoustic guitars to give it a more Western feel.

Although people come from all different backgrounds, tastes, cultures, religions, and social statuses, the one thing that holds humanity together is the same love for music.

The San Diego Mesa College World Music Ensemble did a fantastic job of creating that sense of unison with their fusion music concert. It featured a mix of different types of music from different parts of the world, but in the end focused mainly on creating a sense of unison and celebration for the love of the art of music.

Although all the performers were different and had different talents and voices, they were able to come together through their love for music and project that mutual love to the audience.

The World Music Ensemble is offered every semester to all students at San Diego Mesa College and meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:00-5:25 p.m. in C-119 in the C-100 building.