Djembe(Jem-Bay) is a skin-covered chalice-shaped drum played by the bare hands and is part of the culture and tradition of West Africa. Dyens conjures up the imagery of the effect of this instrument in a brief, percussive introduction involving hitting muted strings with the fist, clicking the fingers and tapping the soundboard with the ring finger.
After an exploratory scale passage running almost the length of the fingerboard the piece settles down into some fascinating, and at times, magical rhythmic patterns, passing through a multitude of time signatures, cross-rhythms and groovy chords. Following a bar of open strings, where the player is directed to quickly retune the sixth string down to Eb and then to D (all without changing the tempo), comes an inspired change of rhythm which involves a persistent open 4th-string rhythmic pattern linking a bass-line and chord passage. This is short-lived however and soon we are back on track with the basic premise of this fine work.
At the start of the book, the composer has noted (using several musical examples) the various technical requirements needed throughout this work including glissando, portamento, damping/muting strings, slurs and the undesirability of string squeak. From the amount of dynamic and technical instructions reproduced in the score itself, it is obvious that Dyens is a composer who demands fine and precise detail from the player in an attempt to extract the full desired end product.
Although this work is not likely to supercede the same writer's Tango en Skai in the popularity stakes, it is however, a fantastic, interesting and entertaining new guitar work and one which almost certainly would leave an impression on any concert audience.
SM (Classical Guitar)