Carried along in the rhythm of the music

Sitting here listening to a series of performances of Agbadza, the ever popular Ewe dance music, I realized the nature of that pulse, what many call the beat. You can hear clearly the handclaps. If you attend to them, you realize they are a single clap, not a developed rhythm, almost a time-keeper. That’s perfect for getting the feel of the flow of the rhythm, the flow that carries you along in a truly irresistible – I am inclined to say “literal” – nexus of sounds: the gankogui bell, the shekere rattles, the handclapping, the high pitched drum, the accompanying drum, and the master drum (at least those). The rhythms of each differ from the rhythms of the others in an interlocking kaleidoscope of sound (don’t forget the voices, which sing in rhythm, i.e. to the beat).
The way I began to feel the pulse with its pounding regularity – irresistible, as I said – to “get the beat,” so to speak, was by looking intently as a church goer who was clapping steadily and try to match my movements to theirs. Eventually, after several years, it worked.

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