West of the World: Compositions

West of the World features 6 brand new songs for an 8-piece African/Jazz ensemble (confused?) and in this episode of the podcast we talk about the compositional process. In the last episode we talked about the goals and expected challenges of this project, and this episode documents how the music was written by focusing on two specific songs from the forthcoming album.
It’s kind of specific musically, but most of the really complex jargon is on the bottom of this post in the Music Nerds section – so there’s plenty of accessible info here!

Because this episode is all about the process, included below is a video of The End, a track that will feature on the album. This track was the first piece composed for this ensemble, and the video below is of my group, the Ashley de Neef Quartet, performing it at the Ellington Jazz Club in Perth Australia several years ago. The inspiration behind the song was the feeling of a particular chapter of your life coming to an end – when i wrote this it was the end of my time at university, and the end of my time living in Perth, Australia.

When i wrote this piece i imagined the kalimba (thumb piano) being replaced by a balafon, and it all being in it’s current West of the World format.

The next episode will be the final episode in this mini-series, and it’s going to focus on the rehearsal and recording process in Toulouse – I made a lot of recordings of the process, as well as documenting my feelings about how it was progressing which are going to make up the bulk of the episode.



Roving Sounds Radio Show #6 - West of the World: Compositions

by Roving Sounds | Radio Show

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Music Nerds:

The call and response cues and dunun part forĀ The Wayside

In this episode we break down some of the call and response cues featured in the track The Wayside, which are rhythmically pretty interesting. As I mentioned in the episode, I was trying to go for a jarring, confusing rhythm, so in the two cues of the piece I repeated a rhythmic phrase and displaced it slightly differently each time.

Both cues begin with the same Djembe call – and the rhythmic complexity really lies in the band response.

Djembe Cue 1 is based on a phrase of 5 8th-note-triplets, and is first played starting on the 2nd triplet. Its then displaced to the 3rd triplet, back to the 2nd and finally on the beat (1st triplet i guess).

Djembe Cue 2 is a phrase of 7 8th-note-triplets, beginning again on the 2nd triplet, and displaced once to the 3rd triplet.


The dunun part for The Wayside is also pretty interesting, if only for how disorienting and difficult to play it is. Definitely wasn’t my intention to write something so hard, but this seemed to suit the rhythm of the piece. As i mentioned in the episode, this rhythm is the basis of the drumkit part as well as the dunun.

The main feature, and most confusing part of this rhythm is the bell on the 2nd triplet. The low dunun plays almost every beat 1, but the bell is consistently on the 2nd triplet which becomes really difficult for the one beat when the dunun doesn’t play beat one.