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Murk Jiskoot  

percussionist, The Netherlands

Anumadutchi: these Dutch guys create their own idiom combining upbeat
African rhythm with elegant melodic timbila, marimba with rustling wind chimes.
Murk Jiskoot is third from the right.

After graduating as a practising percussionist in 1989 I then did various jobs like playing in chamber music ensembles and symphonic orchestras around the Netherlands. Generally this was to perform contemporary music, since classical music often doesnít include percussion.
You know John Cage was the first to write a piece that was solely for percussion. He also gave some lectures at the conservatory in 1992 and we were going to perform with him in 1993, but he died and the performance was changed to a memorial concert. Since percussion is a new musical form we often perform the work of living composers. In that year I also performed solo concerts of contemporary music. It was very demanding to play all the instruments -eighty of them- let alone the organisation involved in transporting and assembling the truck load of instruments. A one and half hour concert required 16 hours of work, and after the costs of transport I didnít have much left from my fee of 300 guilders. I put myself through this partly to compete in the International Gaudeamus Interpretors competition hosted in the Netherlands. I reached fourth in the competition, just one short of the finals. However I now have these pieces and instruments within my repertoire. Some were recorded and are used as examples for students studying the music. A year of that was enough, and when I stopped I started having children!

...I also performed in The Slagwerkgroep Den Haag (The Hague Percussion Group) which has performed regularly for the last 20 years. The members consist of teachers and ex-students of the percussion department. We have generally played contemporary pieces.

I was also one of a group of teachers and students that began studying West African music, after a Ghanian drummer had given some lessons at the music conservatory. Then in 1990 we saw Doudou NíDiaye Rose perform at the at North Sea Jazz festival and were so inspired that we approached him afterwards. This world renowned Senegalese master drummer performed with 36 other drummers! That was an experience that blew our minds away. We asked how we could learn to drum like that. He introduced us to Aly his son and said that he wanted to live in The Netherlands, so we arranged for him to have a permanent teaching position at the conservatory. Thatís 10 years ago now: he was our first teacher in West African music...

In 1997 we produced our first CD, Djange Doch (meaning, First Steps in Wolof, a Senegalese language). About half of the ten tracks were composed by myself, and half by Wim Vos. The other musicians on the CD are Tom van der Loo, Jens Meijers, Niels van Hoorn, Aly NíDiaue Rose and Venancio Mbande.
Djange Doch is the title of the first track which I composed and marks my first steps in the direction of a new idiom for Anumadutchi. The samba are played in a periodic irregular beat accompanied by Aly on the sabar along with a number of other percussion instruments.
The next track, Kelfet begins with rhythmics created by tambourines, followed by the djembe and dunduns (African base drums - cylinders of metal or wood over which calfskin is stretched) performed by Aly and myself with a solo on tabala by Niels. The title refers to a wonderful colleague who, whenever it all got a bit much, would sigh: ´Quelle fête´. Playing the djembé is without question always a blast!
Ballad for Ynske, performed on two marimbas (a type of xylophone but with broader and lower tonal range) and a vibraphone (like a xylophone of metal keys where under the keys a device that produces vibrations of sound), was an experiment to see if what I composed on the piano would sound good on these two instruments.
Mishka is a more funky piece dominated by the bugarabu (an ensemble of 4 African hand drums similar in sound to the South African congas) and the bass marimbas.
Kickkuh begins with an explosive Ghanian-type of intro on drum-set, African drums and krin (a hollowed-out tree trunk generating in this case two different pitches), which then develops to a section on keyboard while one of the marimbas plays a slow melody in octaves while the other two play extremely fast rhythms in hoketus style (where one player fills the silences of the other). Then the drums return, followed by the keyboards with a dominating bass line.
Finale ´94 is a showcase for Alyís fine drumming as well as Venancioís on timbila. We asked these two world class musicians to combine forces for a composition that would embody their distinct musical cultures for the RASA world music podium concerts in Utrecht in 1994. Practically all the drums and styles of playing we have learned from Aly and Venancio are heard on this track.

On the CD Different, produced a few months ago, the formula of western and non-western percussion is elaborated on. In addition to marimbas, vibraphones, western and African drums, Japanese drums are used such as the enormous O-Daiko, Chichibu-Daikos and the Shime-Daikos. These Japanese influences are the result of working with the Dutch-based Japanese-oriented percussion group, Circle Percussion, with whom Anumadutchi performed in two theatre productions (Drums of the World I and II ). We also performed the vocals in the piece A doo we composed by Wim Vos, and the members of the Hague Youth Choir sing on two other compositions by Wim Vos. One of our plans is to produce a whole CD of compositions for voice and percussion with the Hague Youth Choir. We already have the music composed by Wim, but need to organise the recording as well as finance it. So far we have funded the costs of producing our CDs ourselves. A teacher at the conservatory has a small but international recording label, Ottavo Recordings, so people can order our CD from almost anywhere... In 1997 we also produced another CD in collaboration with Circle Percussion. This is available from Murk Jiskoot (email

We perform regularly but we are not cheap and sometimes people donít realise that we have so many costs such as transporting the instruments. We are flexible in the way we work and perform, for concerts, or for children or for a company product launch. Depending on the commission we could perform with up to 30 musicians...

Excerpt from Arts Dialogue, September 1999, pages 12 - 14.


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