Rambax MIT (2010)
Rambax MIT is an ensemble dedicated to learning the art of sabar, a vibrant drum and dance tradition of the Wolof people of Senegal, West Africa. Founded in 2001, Rambax MIT consists of students and members of the MIT community, and is co-directed by artist-in-residence Lamine Touré and faculty advisor Patricia Tang.
Rambax MIT is more than just a performance ensemble - students are not only learning the practical aspect of playing drums, but learning the culture through stories that Lamine Touré tells.
The name "rambax" - pronounced "rahm-bach" - is a vocal mnemonic for a signature sabar rhythm...In Senegal, sabars are played exclusively by griots, a caste of hereditary musicians. Sabar drum troupes perform at a variety of events, from neighborhood dance parties to baptisms, weddings, and wrestling matches. The sabar ensemble consists of numerous parts that come together to create complex polyrhythms. The accompaniment parts include the mbalax (basic accompaniment), tungune (played on the smallest drum), tulli, and talmbat (two bass drum parts). These accompaniments create the fabric upon which the lead drummer solos and the rest of the ensemble plays rhythms. The sabar repertory includes standard dance rhythms as well as bakks, musical phrases which are composed by griots and passed down from one generation to the next.