Iron and Music

Iron and Music with Matthew Marsolek and Jeffrey Funk

Session 9. August 1 through August 5

In this unique workshop, percussionist, singer, and music educator, Matthew Marsolek, will be teaming up with Jeffrey Funk to spend a week exploring the intimate connections between the making of musical instruments of iron and the playing of those instruments. Matthew is well known as a gifted instructor of West African hand drumming and will be leading rhythm exercises to develop both the music and team work that will animate this workshop. We will be forging a variety of simple instruments used in this music, including gankogui (agogo), nganga (hand bells), banana bells, dunun bells, kerenyen (rasp bells), possibly some work with mbira, and other instruments according to the interests of students.

We will work in teams to do much of the forging, and the work will be done with an emphasis on moving with proper rhythm as supported by song, drums, bells, and body rhythm. This part of the workshop will definitely be experimental as we work to develop a meaningful choreography that relates directly both to what we are making and how we are making it. Working “in time” has a long tradition in the field work of the American South, as well as in many types of work in Africa. We'll aim to re-establish this tradition in the blacksmith shop, and have a lot of fun doing it. Through the week we will be making increasing use of the instruments we have built together during the class.

Prior experience in music, West African rhythms, and blacksmithing all are welcome, but the class will be designed to have participants succeed regardless of experience. This class will be consciously focused on creating a group dynamic so be prepared to actively engage with others.