born 1949 Christopher Rouse is an award-winning American composer who has scooped both the Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy. As a musician, he is equally interested in both classical and popular music. When he was Professor of Composition at the famous Eastman School of Music he also taught a course in the history of rock music. In addition to his composing commitments, Rouse is now a Professor at the prestigious Julliard School of Music in New York.
Ogoun Badagris was completed in 1976 and is scored for Percussion Ensemble. It was inspired by the amazing drumming techniques that originate from the small Caribbean country of Haiti. Ogoun Badagris is one of the most violent and terrifying Voodoo Gods (who is only ever satisfied with the blood of a human sacrifice). Ogoun Badagris
1 1 2 2 3 3 The music can be divided into 3 clear sections
1 1 2 2 3 3 Section 1 is a call to action – the Voodoo ceremony is about to take place. The music sounds quite free with no strong sense of rhythm. Rouse immediately draws you in by using all kinds interesting percussion sounds. Listen especially for the sound of the string drum.
- played by pulling a cloth upwards along a string attached to an upside-down drum. You can hear it clearly in opening section of the music. String Drum ext 1
1 1 2 2 3 3 Section 2 is a strong and rhythmical voodoo dance. The music is scored in Compound Time – in a 6/8 time signature. If you have a copy of the score, Section 2 begins at letter A.
Compound Time - a musical meter in which each beat can be divided into three smaller units.
2 2 This is the principal drumming pattern from Section 2. It is scored in compound time. The pattern underpins almost the entire section.
Listen out for a special effect on the timpani. Rouse uses a playing technique called glissando which means that the timpani has to slide from one note to the other. The player creates this effect by moving a foot pedal to change the pitch. Timpani Glissando ext 2 2
You can see this at Figure D in the score. You can also hear this on the MUSICWORKS CD. Select Track 9 and fast forward to 02:05. Timpani Glissando ext 2 2
Cross Rhythms - a complex musical effect created when two or more contrasting rhythms are played simultaneously.
As the dance progresses, Rouse introduces cross rhythms which begin to disrupt the steady 6/8 drumming pattern. On the score above, notice how Rouse places 6 notes against 5. This creates an interesting but slightly uncomfortable rhythmic texture.
You can see this at Figure F in the score. You can also hear this on the MUSICWORKS CD. Select Track 9 and fast forward to 03:00.
1 1 2 2 3 3 Section 3 depicts the actual voodoo sacrifice. The music switches from compound time into simple time to a 2/4 time signature. This makes the music feel as if it has changed gear. If you have a copy of the score, Section 3 begins at letter H.
At the very end of the piece, when the Voodoo sacrifice is over, the performers shout reler, which is the voodoo equivalent of amen. Ogoun Badagris