OGADE's Brief History
OGADE, the Oxford Gourd and Drum Ensemble, was formally begun in 1995
by Peter (Pete) Carels and Lawrence (Larry) Sherman, two professors
from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Pete’s passion for African
drumming and Larry’s love of gourds and the conceptual performing arts
guided their formal creation of OGADE. As early as 1987 Larry wrote an
article entitled The Oxford
Gourd Ensemble: A dispersed and continuing conceptual piece with
occasional site-specific performances, that initially
explained the conceptualization of the performance. Back in
the 1980’s this was a conceptual piece represented by an IBM card with
a description and address (Don't bend, spindle or mutilate!).
This was followed by a short piece written for the Ohio Gourd Society’s
News Letter, The
Gourd, also entitled The Oxford Gourd Ensemble . As
of the year 2011, OGADE has now been in existence for nearly 16
years. With great regularity OGADE engages in both site-specific
and dispersed performances among many diverse communities of
practice. For example, most anyone reading this article on the
web might be considered part of the dispersed performance.
The ensemble is considered an evolving community of percussion
enthusiasts who enjoy learning about and experimenting with various
rhythms performed on many different kinds of percussion
instruments. Membership in the ensemble is open to anyone
interested enough to commit two hours a week in rehearsals. OGADE’s
inclusive philosophy has made them a trans-generational/sexual, highly
integrated group: young and old, male and female, many ethnic
backgrounds represented, and many levels of sophistication with regard
to musical background and sophistication of reading music.
Because of the breadth of diverse musical abilities one of OGADE’s
biggest challenges has been a way to both teach as will as learn the
various pieces in their repertoire. While learning their
repertoire has been accomplished primarily by an oral/aural tradition,
Pete, while not a complete autodidact, has taken great effort to
discover/create/develop a unique "block" notation that is not dependent
upon the ability to read modern musical notation. This has been
accomplished by various methods where numbers, letters, words and
phrases, are aligned vertically to indicate where they are to be played
in relation to foot taps that are numbered in a manner similar to the
traditional music notation of notes, beats and measures.
Sometimes spread-sheets such as Microsoft-Excel have been used to
display the notation like an orchestral or choral score where the
vertical columns are similar to the rhythms of beats and measures, and
the horizontal rows are the voices of individual instruments. A
visual example of this solution may be seen below:
While OGADE has focused more on learning west-African rhythms, they
also attempt traditional rhythms from Cuba, Brazil, Haiti and other
places around the world including Eastern Mediterranean music.
original creations have been described as traditional Southwestern Ohio
music. They practice various rhythms in order to gain a level of
competence, but also jam freely when the mood strikes. Among the
instruments they have incorporated into their weekly rehearsals are the
didgeridoo, various flutes, gourdonium, gourd trumpets, shekeres, gourd
maracas, tambourines, mbira, balaphon and berimbau, as well as many
different kinds of west African drums. Pete has developed the
gourdonium which is made up of a rack of tuned gourds similar to Harry
Partch's "Gourd Tree" shown in Summit & Widess's (1999) book on
page 18. Larry has developed some gourd stringed instruments, the
one and the three stringed bass gourd, similar to Bolog instruments
depicted in Dagan's (1988) book on page 152.
Over the years OGADE’s site-specific performances have become a
tradition at various Oxford community functions: they annually
participate in events such as the celebration of Martin Luther King Day
example), the Ohio Gourd Fair, the opening and closing days of the
Oxford Community Farm Market (see photo below), the annual American
Cancer Society’s fund raiser Relay for Life, and the Oxford
Community Art Center. Occasionally they make random unannounced gorilla
performances in the local community. OGADE has even inspired one
of it's members to create a print of the group that is used on the
front page of their current web site (http://www.ogade.org)
Thus, OGADE is a vital part of many communities of practice. And,
this descriptive piece might be considered part of their ‘dispersed
Dagan, Esther A. (1988). The African
Calabash: When art shares natures gift. Montreal, Canada:
Gallerie Amrad African Arts.
OGADE’s first web site: http://www.users.muohio.edu/shermalw/ogade.html
OGADE’s second web site: http://jomammatee.no-ip.org/ogade This site is
no longer available as the server has been taken out of service.
It existed on Jo Hudgins personal computer and when she passed away in
2009 the site was transferred to the third site below here.
OGADE’s third and current (2011) web site is: http://www.ogade.org
Sherman, L. (1990). The
Oxford Gourd Ensemble. The Gourd,
Volume 20, No. 2, pp. 5-6, ISSN 0888-5672, Summer 1990. Ohio
Gourd Society, Mt. Gilead, Ohio 43338
Sherman, L. W. (1987). The
oxford gourd ensemble: A dispersed and continuing conceptual piece with
occasional site-specific performances. Experimental Musical Instruments,
II (6), April, 1987, pp. 15-17.
Summit, G & Widess, J. (1999. Making Gourd Musical Instruments.
New York, NY: Sterling Publishing Company.
OGADE on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoPZzR30Q7k