Performance Specific Elements
This version of Habib Koité’s Din Din Wo uses a medium sized mixed ensemble:
1 Electric Nylon String Guitar-Chordophone/Electrophone - (Overdubbed)
1 Electric Bass Guitar – Chordophone/Electrophone
1 Drum Kit – Idiophone/Membranophone
1 Percussion – Membranophone
Multiple Vocals ( One lead and 1 -2 backup which were possibly
overdubbed versions of one singer…)
The recording supplied is a well produced/mixed/mastered multi tracked version of the tune – including overdubs, which seems to have used a standard bed tracking method in studio. (Drums and percussion played live with the band - allowing for the perfection of vocals, bass, and guitars using overdubs).
The texture is quite clear in this recording. Though the fine recording quality enabled the band to produce a deep, wide, and full sounding stereo mix, the actual instrumentation would suggest a rather thin texture.
The over arching texture is one of Homophonic Ostinato + Melody, with all instruments (except vocals) supplying both consistencies and embellishments to the ostinato. The ostinato can be heard as if it is a single voice, which underlies the main vocal lines.
Instrument Specific Texture/Timbre:
The guitar is sounding almost constantly throughout the tune, producing a full sound – yet it is the only instrument which isn’t supplying sparse interjections – that is to say - it is playing the most focused part of the ostinato – of course, with slight decorations for the duration of the entire piece. With the guitar being a Nylon Electric, the tone is quite unique. It is quite a dry sound, yet with the playing technique of plucked finger style, it records very nicely. The tones are round and warm in the low end, and almost brittle in the high notes. This makes for a perfect tool enabling the performer to rest easy within the ostinato using low notes, yet also with the ability to really cut through and puncture the sound scape with high notes, while embellishing the ostinato.
The bass is playing a funky, sparse groove - hitting mostly the important chord tones (only supplying passing tones when necessary) , in a groove that really breathes, with open space being the main affect of the bass lines. The timbre of the bass is working very well with the kick drum. The very deep, earthy low end of the bass allow the kick drum’s attack to be heard more than the resonance of the shell, which is ideal in this piece, because the more tight the ostinato is, the better. The bass also has very punchy high mids, allowing it to not be covered up by the low end of the kick drum, and guitar.
The drum kit is playing a fairly stripped down beat – that is to say it has a sort of interjecting effect, with the high hats supplying the main groove, and the kick, snare, and cymbals interjecting with the high hats in order to play a support role, in tight connection with the bass. The timbrical qualities of the drum kit add to the ostinato of the piece quite a lot. The airy, crisp, and open sound of the high hats ( and the room in which the drum kit was tracked in general) make for the ultra tight beats coming from the kit to be heard as laid back, and just sit very nicely within the ostinato.
The percussion (a very high, tight Membranophone) is also playing sparse, interjecting, and seemingly through composed, or improvised lines - based on filling space that the drum kit is leaving open. The percussion varies in complexity and consistency, when the guitar is playing the standard, non decorated ostinato, and in between vocal lines. The Tone of this overtly tight membranophone really gives the piece substance, and character as a whole. It is the smallest contributor to the ostinato because of its tone – it stands out, and the player exploits this fact, giving the ostinato much more liveliness and space – all due to the timbre of the instrument being in contrast to that of the other instruments, and taking the most improvised apporach.
The vocal lines are also fairly few and far between, alternating from 4 main sections of vocals: A single call, which is responded to by a chorus - a mostly descending, faster syllabic line – spoken word - and the more melismatic rising unison on the word, “hey”.
Form & Structure (With Contextual Harmonic and Melodic Information):
Due to the Ostinato + Melody Homophony nature which this piece encapsulates, the form can be viewed most identifiably by the vocals.
Intro: 0 - 0:46 (without vocals)
In this section, the ostinato is introduced by the guitar, with percussion entering with very quick, interjecting flourishes, foreshadowing the main role of the percussion in the rest of the ostinato, and building up tension which is released at the beginning of the full ostinato. At 0:30 the guitar makes an embellishment to the main ostinato both melodically, and rhythmically: Ascending and descending with 6th’s in triplet based rhythms – also foreshadowing future guitar embellishments.
A : 0:46 – 1:16 (Transcribed “chorus”)
In This section, we are introduced to the central vocal figure of the piece. The three bar “Din Din Wo” figure. This section contains a call and response vocal figure. The lead vocalist calls “ Din Din Wo”, in a smooth, conjunct, descending pattern using mostly longer durations. This call begins on beat 3, of m.1, and after a dotted eighth rest, the response sounds on b.4, m.2 with the full force of a chorus. The chorus response is a syllabic arching figure, which is only slightly more disjunct than the call. The chorus is predominantly outlining the harmonic centre of the ostinato, (a minor - going from i - i6 – i) with only one passing tone being outside of an A minor triad. (Which interestingly forms a G major triad ( bVII in 2nd inversion).
B : 1:16 – 1:56 (“ Decorated Descending 4ths vocals”)
This section again contains the ostinato being formed by all instruments. The vocals are more sporadic, because of the faster, syllabic nature of the section. The fact that these vocal figures more or less keep the same duration of the previous vocal lines, yet involve a lot more lyrics, forces the listener to hear it as more sporadic than the A section. The melodies are decorated descending minor scales – often resembling a descending minor pentatonic scale due to the added passing tones, and overall leap choices. (Important to note: these vocal passages never embody a full scale, but an elaborated section of a scale, usually encompassing the span of a 5th). The descending melodies usually begin by descending a 4th from E (^5) to B (^2) , then back up to D (^4) which descends in a similar fashion to the tonic, A (^1). The separation of the descending melodies allow for some rhythmical variation, and embellishing accents within the percussion and drum kit in this section. (The guitar ostinato also changes slightly, although it is more of a permutation of the main ostinato figure, ensuring that the opening measure of the ostinato can come after the vocal has finished each descending melody).
C : 1:56 – 2:18 (“Hey! Vocal lines)
This section is identified by the vocal line being one of no words. It is similar to the previous section, but the lack of words, use of a chorus, and the general melodic contour differentiates it enough to form a new section. Again, this section is retained by the vocals, whilst the other instruments are keeping up the ostinato). This section is in a way another call and response section. Although the call and response in the melody are not exactly an antecedent and consequent, it is the harmonic goal of each sub phrase which creates a call and response. The call seems to propose a dominant harmony (Landing on the ^5 scale degree). The chorus’ answer always has a tonic-oriented goal. (Always landing on the ^1 scale degree). The contour of these sub phrase level vocal lines is essentially the exact opposite of the B section. They are disjunct, decorated with both passing tones and leaps, and always ascending to the Dominant at first – later to descend in a similar, disjunct, decorative manner, toward the Tonic.
D : 2:18 – 2:30 (“Spoken Word”)
This section is marked by the spoken word style of vocal, lying atop of the main ostinato. In this section we are exposed to some phrases being spoken to us, in the theme of the text. (Translated on the Chorus transcription page). This in a way, puts a personal edge to the lyrics, as well as gives us a feeling of candid narration into the subjects’ lyrics, by the performer. This section also includes embellishment of the ostinato in the guitar, that stands out. Here, the guitar uses the ascending and descending 6ths based on triplets which we have previously been exposed to. Another variation in the guitar ostinato, is the rhythmic diminution, as well as more permutation of the riff, which is nessecary to keep the entrances of the ostinato in place.
A’ : 2:30 – 3:06 (“Altered Chorus”)
Here, we return to the “Din Din Wo” Chorus. It is not an exact repeat, because the second time we hear the call, it is both rhythmically melodically altered. Here, there is also more embellishment of the ostinato in the percussion and drum kit than in the first A, though nothing else changes significantly enough to call it a new section.
B : 3:06 – 3:45 (“ Decorated Descending 4ths vocals”)
There is a return to the B section, with some more freedom in the embellishment of the ostinato in the percussion and drumkit, as well as more obvious accentuation of the opening bar of the guitar ostinato. With these differences in mind, the only thing changing here are the embellishments of the ostinato – that is to say, there is no formal difference.
C: 3:45 – finish (“Hey! Vocal lines)
Again, another return to a previous section, with even more embellishment to the ostinato, as the track fades out.
The piece overall seems to fit nicely into common 4/4 time, which makes it easy to realize both the pitched instrument’s phrasing, and the percussion/drum kit’s elaborations of the ostinato, and the recurring beats / grooves in which they settle in.
Harmony & Scalar Information:
This piece is centred around A Minor, and with the use of the diatonic 6ths, ascending and descending in the guitar, it makes for a momentary feeling of departure from the minor mode – though it was never left.
Since the ostinato is ever present in this piece, and the ostinato is in A Minor, with only minimal non tonic harmonic influence in the embellishment of the ostianto, it is fairly safe to say that this piece is based on a fluctuating – ostinato – drone of A Minor.
For the most part, this piece is based on minor mode. However, within particular runs in the vocal lines – (specifically in section C – “Hey”) there is a selective decoration of a minor scale which resembles a minor pentatonic based melody.
There is an obvious melodic motif strung throughout this piece:
This simplified (Shankarian) descending melody can be found throughout most parts of the ostinato of the guitar, as well as in some vocal lines.
b3^ (me) - ^2 (re) - ^1 (do)
This piece is quite static in terms of dynamics – as is natural, or at least as is accustomed to, by the nature of this particular piece ( possibly for most ostinato based drone music?).
The dynamics of the guitar never really change as part of the ostinatio, however – during embellishments such as the 6th triplets riff, there are dynamic rises, and heavy accents.
This dynamic shift is true with all instruments – static during pure ostinato, and a small rise in volume, attack and accentuation during embellishment figures.
The tempo sits at a laid back ¼ note = 120 bpm. Comfy, cushy, bouncy, yet consistently driving the piece forward with the ostinato.