Santuri is an idea that focusses on concepts of innovation, collaboration and creativity within the East African music scene .
A platform for experimentation, learning and expression for musicians, DJs, curators and audio engineers.
The project is a partnership with Soundthread LTD – The UK based organisation focussing on international cultural and creative economy development.
In September of 2015, I was truly honoured to be invited by Esa Williams and David Tinning to become a part of the Santuri Family.
Through my work as an Ableton Certified Trainer I had the chance to fly to Nairobi in Kenya.
Collaborating and performing alongside Mim Suleiman, Mr. Raoul K, Nonku Phiri, Makadem and Esa at the Airtel Sondeka Festival 2015.
Mim Suleiman with Esa Williams – Jude Clark
Nonku Phiri, Giovani Kiyingi and myself – Jude Clark
Mr. Raoul K – Jude Clark
During my stay at Santuri I presented workshops on sampling traditional African instruments and creating intuitive instrument racks for Ableton Live – that will be shared for free.
Listen to my Santuri Safari Instrument Pack featuring four East African indigenous instruments.
Download the Santuri Safari Instruments Pack HERE
My philosophy was to share these instruments with the world through the cross-pollination of traditional music infused with electronic music production.
This process of creating these tools were inspired by the ability to input multiple samples into Ableton’s Sampler which is an advanced sampling instrument that is extremely versatile. Using the velocity and note filtering system inside Sampler I have the ability to embody tonal differences through any velocity sensitive MIDI device (MIDI Keyboards, Ableton Push etc.) Once these samples are embedded, tuned and allocated correctly, a myriad of possibilities are available. From granular synthesis techniques, intuitive amp, filtering, pitch and mod oscillation envelopes, to multiple playback modes, naming but a few features. I can transform these traditional sounding instruments and evolve them into futuristic tools that have not been heard before.
I believe that this free contribution to all musicians and producers from all walks of life embodies the ethos of Santuri, which is the evolution of music and ideas without borders, always welcoming collaboration. The exciting prospect is that all of these instrument racks will be used in a truly unique way by creative individuals.
The collaborating musicians
I have met with some truly inspirational people and musicians from all around Africa,
Virtuoso multi instrumentalist and composer of Gogo music from Tanzania.
The primary instruments heard in Gogo music include the Zeze, Limba, Ngoma, Ndono, and Flut.
Msafiri Zawose – Jude Clark
An afro-fusion, folk and world music composer based in Uganda.
A song writer, multi instrumentalist and singer. Kiyingi plays many traditional instruments in and outside Uganda such as Adungu,
Endere, Engoma, Akogo, Madiinda, Djembe, Calabash etc.
Originally a Hip Hop artist and producer has broadened his musical horizons into the Afrofusion realm.
Also a multi instrumentalist, amongst these the traditional Nairobian flute called the Chivoti.
Alai is creating a new, distinct style that he calls Disco Vumbi. It’s a fresh and unique form of Kenyan dance music
that refers to the former street disco-esque way of enjoying music.
(Moseh Drumist) is an Urban Folklore Musician who plays And Makes variety of Kenyan drums such as Bunde, Ohangla drums, Chapuo etc. As he explores music as a Drummer, Percussionist and Producer. Ochieng was Born in Mathare, the second largest slum in Kenya. He has been able to share his music in Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Italy, Dubai, Sweden and Tanzania.
The Process of recording the Indigenous Instruments
For my trip to Narobi I was equipped with my Roland R26 field recorder and 2 Sure SM81 microphones and my Macbook Pro. The R26 is a 6 channel portable field recorder that has the ability to be used as a USB audio interface with my Macbook or as a stand alone recording device. With two types of built-in stereo microphones (omnidirectional and directional) that can be used in various combinations. Including 2 XLR/TRS combo inputs that have a 48 V phantom power option for microphones that contain electronic circuitry, this is a must have recording device.
I set up at David Tinnings studio in Nairobi along with all the musicians and used various miking techniques for each instrument. When recording the Zeze (a steel string instrument from Tanzania) and the Adungu (a nylon string instrument from Uganda), I used close up miking – placing one mic by the neck for intimate articulation and one at the opening of the body of the instrument for bass tones. When recording the Endere (a flute from Uganda) and the Chivoti (a small flute from Mijikenda on the coast of Kenya), I used one mic positioned not too close to the instrument as it has quite an output range and one mic for room ambience. I also recorded the Ohangla (a group of drums from the Nyanza province in Kenya), using an X/Y miking technique to capture a balanced stereo image of the range of drums positioning the microphones in the centre above the player.
I requested 4 different velocity samples from the softest to loudest of each note played per instrument as well as legato and staccato inflictions for the melodic instruments.
After recording all the instruments I had to process the sounds on my macbook using Ableton and various mixing, mastering and audio enhancement tools to enrich the quality of the recordings and possibly clean up any overtones that could be produced through subtractive equalisation.
Importing samples into Ableton Sampler and creating an Instrument Rack
Watch the Ableton Instrument Rack building tutorial video HERE
Once the rendered samples are ready to use, I imported them into Ableton’s Sampler and allocated them by tuning, key and velocity.
If the recording and processing methods were adhered to correctly the dynamic essence of the instrument would be embodied in a virtual context,
with most of the organic nuances intact when playing different velocities on any MIDI device.
After placing the samples I grouped my sampler into an instrument rack. Now having 8 macro knobs available for mapping various attributes of Sampler and any other Ableton audio or MIDI effect I included in the instrument rack. From Arpeggiator, and Reverb to Filter Delay. Not only does Ableton allow for multiple attributes to be mapped to a single macro knob, but you are able to determine the range of each parameter mapping in the advanced editor window.
For anyone wanting to create their own instrument racks, I suggest exploring all the various mapping capabilities as it can result in a plethora of tonal possibilities. So the organic or natural state of the instruments are available to use but with the added features of manipulating these sounds in various exciting ways. Try the sample reverse feature or some pitch envelope modulation and you will quickly morph your sounds into a brand new sonic spectrum. Perfect for sound designers or musicians that want to use the ability to perform or compose with these instruments directly inside Ableton.
Myself and Esa Williams – Jude Clark
My experience at Santuri
My short experience with Santuri was truly life changing as having met, performed and worked with world class musicians and open-minded individuals. I approached this entire project with the utmost respect to the creators, musicians and rich culture of these magnificent instruments. As I feel my role was to inspire individuals with these tools and techniques to expand people’s musical horizons if they so chose to.
Surely the art of sampling and manipulation has existed for many years, but I truly believe that Ableton has found a way to have these tools available to even the most novice users to create their own signature sound and embody their own musical traditions.
I have not mentioned all the amazing people that have made this opportunity a reality,
please meet the entire Santuri team HERE
Additional resources and Information
(c) 2016, Emile Hoogenhout