Sam Newsome

Sam Newsome
"The potential for the saxophone is unlimited." - Steve Lacy

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Soprano de Africana Suite

The following excerpt is from the liner notes of The Art of the Soprano, Vol.1 

When composing and performing this suite I used a variety of African folk instruments as sources of inspiration: the mbira, the thumb piano from Zimbabwe; the balaphone, a xylophone-like instrument common through out West Africa; and the countless flutes and double reed instruments from indigenous places throughout the African continent as a whole.

By design, West African instruments are made to play simple melodies, usually based on pentatonic scales, with the musical emphasis being on groove, strong rhythm and call and response—contrary to the instrumental virtuosity and harmonic sophistication aesthetic, which is revered in most Western music.

Saxophonist Sonny Rollins said in a recent interview that he finds himself in his later years moving towards an approach that’s more primitive and less conservatory training oriented--referring to his Calypso roots, I imagine. He’s describes it as approaching the instrument the way he did when he was eight years old--that childlike discovery in which you approach things with a certain curiosity, innocence, and fearlessness.  Pablo Picasso also spoke of this, saying how it took him four years to learn to paint like Renaissance painter Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino), but a lifetime to paint like a child. As artists, it seems to be a natural evolution to return to our primitive, childlike beginnings.

This notion of approaching the instrument from a “primitive” viewpoint served as the basis for many of the tunes in this suite. When trying to come up with ideas, I often asked myself this: If some musician from a small, remote village in West Africa found a soprano, and had no prior knowledge about how it should sound, what would he do with it? And this is what I came up with.

This track is titled "Burkino Faso" from the Soprano de Africana suite.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Sam! Keep Exploring World Musics!
    All the Best!

    Tony Waka- another straight horn enthusiast


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