Making a beat out of this sample is a challenge we're issuing worldwide.
We took a field trip to a Baha'i Faith Center in Suva, Fiji, to record local performers and sounds to make beats. We were invited by our beat-making student Paul, a guitar-playing community activist who, with his wife, ran a youth dance company at the center. On deck for the evening was a very striking style of local music and dance—Pacific Island body percussion—and it was really amazing.
My closest frame of reference for the body percussion was a step show. I spent many hours as an undergraduate gawking at step shows during the homecoming celebrations of North Carolina's historically black colleges and universities. Fiji's body percussion routines were slightly different than the step teams I was used to. Instead of Timberland boots, the Fijians stomped the floors with their bare feet. The thuds were accompanied by guttural and spiritual chants. The group would yell in unison, then splinter into interweaving harmonic polyrhythms, as their heavy feet made the hardwood floors tremble. As the performance continued, the men started slapping their chests, clapping, and striking their hands against surfaces in the room, as if they were trying to kill a thousand mosquitoes.
We tried our best to capture the performance with our zoom recorder, but nothing could quite convey the vibe in the Baha'i Faith center.
Making a beat out of this sample is a challenge we're issuing worldwide. With support from Walshy Fire of Major Lazer, who is hosting the challenge, and acclaimed producer ETC!ETC!, who is judging the challenge—we're offing a free SoundCloud Pro account to the producer with the best beat sampling our Fijian chant.
Here's the catch. The beat has to be in a downtempo dance genre called Moombahton. Think you got what it takes to transform a chant into a dance party? Visit beatmakinglab.com/challenge to submit.
Beat Making Lab builds studios in cultural centers around the world and trains youth musicians in the art of beat making. This post is part of This Week in Beat Making, a weekly series on GOOD—follow our adventures with new episodes here every Wednesday.
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