I was trained as a classical percussionist, which means I am usually found in the back of the orchestra playing instruments such as the snare drum, xylophone, timpani, tambourine, and other drums. While researching my doctoral dissertation on the early percussion music of John Cage, I was intrigued that Cage wrote for instruments from many different world cultures. This discovery led me to become interested in further exploration of the origins of percussion. I began with frame drums from North Africa (Moroccan tar and bendir, Egyptian riq – ancestors of the snare drum and tambourine), and later studied the West African djembe (whose lacing is reminiscent of the European rope drum), and finally the Zimbabwean mbira (a relative of the xylophone and marimba). These connections have been guiding my performance and teaching for more than 20 years, and have deeply enriched my understanding of the interrelated nature of our music and culture.
– B. Michael Williams
First Construction composed by John Cage. Performed on the album First Construction.
Baya Wabaya by B. Michael Williams from the album BataMbira
Butsu Mutandari by B. Michael Williams from the album First Construction.