Documentaries

Last updated: 15 february, 2011 - 10:52 GMT

A Short History of Five Notes

Ghana's Dzenbii Cultural Group led by JB Korantang Crentisl

Master drummer JB Korantang Crentisl, front row centre, leads the Dzenbii Cultural Group in a jam session

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This is the story of a five note rhythm that has changed musical history.

Originally carried by slaves from Africa to the Caribbean hundreds of years ago, these five notes have become part of the DNA of modern music – influencing everything from soul and cuban music, to afrobeat and rock and roll.

In A Short History of Five Notes for the BBC World Service, music journalist Rita Ray traces the history of the five notes back to their origins in west Africa, visiting traditional drummers in Ghana.

She also hears from legendary latin, soul and rock musicians from around the world, including The Animals lead singer Eric Burdon, Cuban jazz pianist Omar Sosa, James Brown's drummer Jabo Starks, and Fela Kuti conga player JB Korantang Crentisl.

View a click map showing where the five notes have influenced the music.

First broadcast on 25 February 2011.


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