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Kuku and seed rhythms played on the udu

From the very beginning of Moving Away, udu-player Eugene Skeef mixes rhythms together. But what rhythms?

Eugene playing the udu

Eugene Skeef playing the udus

Here’s the udu part from the beginning of Moving Away, played by Eugene Skeef. Like many of the parts in this song, the udu plays a repeating pattern, or riff, that continues for most of the song. All the time, though, Eugene’s adding variety and variation to the pattern, playing around with different rhythms.

But where does the pattern come from in the first place? Here are two rhythms that on a first hearing sound almost completely different. The first one’s the SoundJunction seed rhythm and the second is a traditional West African dance rhythm called ‘kuku’.

Can you hear either of those rhythms in the udu music from the beginning of Moving Away? In fact, they’re both in there.

In this clip, you can hear the seed rhythm and the udu music played together. The seed rhythm gives the udu music its grounding rhythm – the udu part is based on the seed rhythm, but it’s not exactly the same.

Here’s one of the reasons why. This clip combines the kuku rhythm with the udu part (the kuku plays first and is joined by the music from Moving Away). If you listen carefully, you can hear that there are elements of the kuku in the Moving Away udu parts, like the swooping notes, for example.

What Eugene’s doing is combining some elements of one rhythm with some of another. The two starting rhythms (the seed and the kuku) aren’t totally dissimilar, of course, but these two rhythms are the basic ingredients of Eugene’s udu part in Moving Away.

Here’s Eugene playing the udus at the beginning of Moving Away.

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