Friday, July 11, 2008

New weapons of mass destruction

The Nyahbinghi Harps
In Rasta overstanding, Nyahbingi is the mystical power of the Most High to mete justice throughout the universe. Although the genuine origin of the word that means “she possesses many things” is Ugandan, as a concept and theology, Nyahbingi has come down to the Rastaman to signify “death to the oppressors, both black and white”. Therefore, it is through prayer, music and biblical reasonings that the Rastaman chants bingi, calling on the forces of nature to destroy the powers of wickedness. “…Storm, cyclone, tidal wave and all tempestuous roaring elements from creation to destroy the wicked nation and set Rastaman free…”

More about Nyahbinghi

Thunder: This is the bottom of the bingi ensemble; there are rarely more than two thunder players at a gathering. It is a typical looking double-headed bass drum, played with a mallet. an open tone on “1” and a dampened stroke on “3”. Occasionally, the thunder player will syncopate the rhythm.

Funde: Although the funde often resembles a requinto, the
smallest conga used in Afro-Cuban music, the funde is
actually the middle drum used in Nyahbingi; it
maintains the dominant heartbeat rhythm as the
funde player makes steady, dampened strokes on “1&”
…“3&”; it is thus dually known as the heartbeat and
has the least improvisational role.

Repeater: The repeater, or akette, is the smallest and highest
pitched drum. It is somewhat of a single elongated
bongo. The drummer tends to play around “2 e & a”
and “4 e & a”, with a syncopated, rather than a
backbeat feel. These beats are important to the overall
feel of the Nyahbingi rhythm, but the repeater has a
very improvisational role in bingi because it is seen as
the carrier of spirit.

Shaka: The shekere, which is commonly found throughout
Africa, the Caribbean Latin America, has a place in
Nyahbingi. The shekere player has a somewhat flexible role: He/she has been known to play on “1”, “1&”, “1” and “3” or “1&”…“3&” [The following should be noted regarding the curious nomenclature of this instrument—Perhaps the word is a simple corruption of the proper pronunciation; and there is the possibility that it is a more calculated allusion to the Zulu word for fire, shaka.


Since 2004 inventor Thierry Alari has been working to turn the DJ world upside down by creating a portable all-in-one scratch instrument capable of being played while walking, standing, or sitting. At first glance, the Scratchophone looks like a cross between a hand drum and turntable, but upon further inspection it’s quickly revealed to be much, much more.

Scratch musicians are able to comfortably perform on stage thanks to stable tracking provided by a hanging micro tonearm, adjustable crossfader wrist position (+/- 15°), and the inclusion of turntable start/stop mechanism w/ adjustable pitch. While needing only a reliable power source, vinyl, and a skilled turntablist, the Scratchophone delivers a near complete portable scratch experience utilizing components from a Stanton TT500 direct drive turntable, Vestax VMC-002xLu mixer, and Eclectic Breaks Pro X Fade Crossfader.

Still only a prototype, version 1.0 has an expected date of September ‘08 with plans to make available "empty" Scratchophone cases for those wishing to implement their own customized setup.

See the Scratchophone website for more info and check out the video of Grand Wizard Theodore and DJ Fade Wizard performing a live demonstration.

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