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World On Your Street: The Global Music Challenge

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Describe the atmosphere and live music at a local pub, restaurant, festival, church or temple, club night.... inspire other people to check it out!


Musician: Barak Schmool

Location: London

Instruments: Saxophone / Flute / Percussion

Music: African/Latin/Jazz

HOW I CAME TO THIS MUSIC          WHERE I PLAY          A FAVOURITE SONG Click here for Hande Domac's storyClick here for Mosi Conde's storyClick here for Rachel McLeod's story


Listen  Listen (11'09) to 'Waa daa daa' performed by Barak Schmool and Roots of Unity from their cd, Timeline Know Hope (F-ire, 2002)

Listen  Listen (2'02) to Barak Schmool talk about his music

"At a symphony concert, you can't have someone jump up and shout out where in my music, you can"

How I came to this music

I came to this music through study and because I was drawn to a kind of music which everyone can learn and take part in. In many kinds of music, you have the stage and the audience and there's a big gap between. I prefer to make music where I'm there, I might be playing alongside my teacher, and with other people who may be less able but who are playing too. Maybe some other people are dancing or singing. Everyone takes part according to their abilities.

I was trained as a classical musician. I was offered the xylophone, aged 3, and progressed to recorders, piano, flute and, as a teenager, the saxophone. I went to the Royal Academy of Music. At 20, I was ill for six months and unable to play the saxophone, so I took up percussion. I'd always had lots of musical influences around in my youth. My parents' greatest friends were from South Africa and they were forever bringing music back and playing it. When you're a musician, if you hear something that you don't understand and you're a smart, creative musician, you want to know more about it. If you're lucky, you can work it out or, if it's too difficult, you can get some help and find good teachers. I now play a number of African drums, particularly the sabar family of drums from Senegal plus a range of drums from Ghana, relating to different peoples' music there: the Ewe, the Ashanti and the Dagbani. I also play a lot of Brazilian percussion instruments.

Barak SchmoolI teach at the Royal Academy of Music in the jazz department and, more extensively at City University in London, which has courses in Latin Music, African Music and Jazz. I think it's important to be able to play and demonstrate what you're talking about to the students. That's why I've picked up so many different instruments.

I think music should be a natural thing you do in your life. It's an affirmation of your community and something which everybody is allowed to participate in. Different kinds of music have different kinds of structures. If you're at a symphony concert, it isn't possible for someone in the audience to jump up and shout out and for that to be incorporated into the music. You can't stop the symphony from being what it is. But other styles of music can allow people to contribute in that way. That's what inspires me. I saw in African music how anyone's expression could be part of a community's art.

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