16 June 2022

Rewinding a Computer

Here's a thought experiment, based on a simple computer a la Turing. Start with three parts:

  • Read-Only Memory (populated with code)
  • Processor (interprets code, a la Turing)
  • RAM Memory (empty)

Consider the ROM as the input, the RAM as the output, and the processor as the functional engine. Add to this, a clock to sequence the processor's interpretation of the ROM, and a known start point to run the code. There are no external inputs, so everything that happens in the RAM is purely the result of the code in the ROM - thus dependent on the nature of the processor, and contents of ROM.

Consider the system as a pair of 3D cubes, with the following axes:

  • X axis, data in memory cells
  • Y axis, address of memory cells
  • Z axis, states at successive clock pulses

As such, the ROM (input) would be the same 2D X x Y array repeated for all clock pulses along the Z axis, whereas the RAM would start off as undefined (or zero, if we assume empty cells to hold that value) until completely or partially painted in by code activity.

The simple case is where code interpretation is limited to the ROM; the larger case is where code within writable RAM can also be interpreted.  The overall code will either:

  1. Continue running indefinitely (open system, e.g. the irrational number Pi)
  2. Fall into a repeating loop (closed, e.g. 1/3 expressed in decimal)
  3. Stop (closed. e.g. 1/100 expressed in decimal)

We'll avoid the Halting Problem by assuming case (3) for starters, which may also require us to consider only the simple case, where only the code in the ROM is interpreted.  Now, the questions...

  • If we gather only the full 3D X-Y-Z array of the RAM, can we deduce the ROM?
  • If we know both 3D RAM and 2D ROM arrays, can we deduce the processor?
  • Do these answers change, if pre-used ("empty") RAM values are known?
  • Do these answers change, if pre-used RAM values remain flagged?

The elephant in the room

The processor can be considered a complicated operator that takes an input value, and produces an output value - but if each output value may arise from different inputs, then the processor is not a function - it is "blurry", in the same sense that quantum particles are blurred as waves.

We manufacture our processors, i.e. they arise from a template of arbitrary pattern, as opposed to "crafted" (one-off creation with no template retained for re-use).  In contrast, "naturally-arising" processors may grow from a recursive self-similarity basis, which we may expect to be easier to derive from the output.

Examples

One example would be the ZX Spectrum running a program that ignores external inputs. This 1982 home computer had a 16k ROM, either 16k or 48k or RAM, and a Zilog Z80 processor clocked at 3.5MHz, 16-bit addressing, 8-bit data bus.  So, the "size" of the system would be 0-65535 on the Y axis, 0-255 on the X axis, and 3.5 million x seconds to end of runtime on the Z axis.

That's a far larger computational mass than the initial program "seed", so needs a larger computer to fully model it; so far, so in keeping with our info-theory, and probably doable on today's hardware.

Another example is how the genotype is converted to the phenotype, where the nature of the processor is largely unknown.  Ironically, the way "ROM" DNA is read to run-time mRNA, for ribosomes to "knit" mRNA into protein threads, is closer to Turing's endless-tape model than our Z80 processor!

Reverse computing is hard

It always seems harder to reverse computing, as seen through a series of problems successively conquered as our computational power grows.  OCR is harder than printing fonts, speech recognition is harder than text-to-speech, etc.  In each of these models of the external "real world", the generated output is easier to read than the "real thing", as it's quantized into a narrower set of possibilities.

This applies to attempts to understand the universe, via models that need the "It's as if..." disclaimer, rather than the unwarranted arrogance of "It is...".  We can only model the universe in our heads (including peer-to-peer and computational extensions thereof); the universe itself can only be passed by value (the part we experience, as local copy), not by reference (complete, writable).







3 June 2022

Disable ALL WiFi Auto-Connect!

Windows 10 and 11 both duhfault to auto-connecting every "secure" WiFi network they can detect, relying on the absence of "remembered" key to block unintended connections. This logic is often expressed in forum threads, when folks post that they want to stop all WiFi Auto-Connect, rather than stepping on ants one at a time, or disabling the WiFi adapter.  

Even when command-line methods are offered, they all involve naming the specific WiFi network you want to "fix"; useless for control over all networks that may be discovered, other than the few you may want to actually use.

As it is, you can't access Properties for a WiFi network until it's connected, so you can't even attempt to UNcheck "yes, let's stick our fingers in the electricity socket without asking first".  Not having they key to connect may prevent unwanted connections, but also places that network beyond Settings control.  Entering a key to connect to an unwanted network may let you in to its Properties and thus ability to UNcheck "Auto-connect when in range", but now you have the risk of a "remembered" key.  Either way, you're forced to take more risk than should be the case.

Cannot connect to this network

I suspect this behavior may be a cause of the "Cannot connect to this network" problem.  In my case, I have a distant main router and a closer slave router; the slave hosts two WiFi networks, one of which is limited to Internet access only, for safer guest use.  All three WiFi networks use WPA2, but the "full access" slave router WiFi network has never had a key entered.  None of these networks are to "Auto-connect", but without the key, this setting cannot be applied to the full-access slave router network.

Sometimes (no predictable pattern) when starting a laptop close to the slave router, manually connecting the guest network will fail with a "Cannot connect..." message.  All other "secure" networks within range are found defaulted to [x] Connect Automatically, and clearing these checkboxes does not "stick".

Sometimes temporarily checking Auto-connect for the intended connection will work; other times, nothing works short of "just" restarting Windows.  The same intermittent failure pattern affects two different Win10 laptops, set up in the same way.  When connected via (unwanted) Auto-connect, clearing the Auto-connect checkbox sometimes drops the connection and the whole mess starts again.

Meta-bug

Lacking a way to set behavior of newly-spawned entities, before they are spawned, is a common meta-bug that often creates exploit opportunities.  This WiFi issue is just another instance of this meta-level bug.

Windows has become hell-bent on connecting to the Internet, from OOBE's lure of "a little WiFi here...", the constant pressure to "just" auto-sign in to an online Microsoft Account, and the duhfault behavior of all "secure" WiFi networks to auto-connect on the basis that a missing key is safety enough.

I wish Microsoft would respect the "My" in "My Computer", and at least offer solid settings to stay off networks and the Internet until this is initiated by the user!


22 May 2022

Songs from Tim's Session

We took our village jembe group to the city for the first time, dropping in on Tim's session, where we jumped into over a dozen songs.  Here's notation for the patterns we played...

Djina foli space-clearing song; West Africa, 4-beat

B T B Tt Tt S   S   B Tt Tt S   
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_

End call for above

F Ss S sS   SsSsS   TtTtT   SsSsS   TtTtT   B T B.
|_-_-_-_|_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-.

Jembe; West Africa, 4-beat

B SsTtS   B SsTtS B SsTtS B SsTtS B SsTtS ...
|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Sabari; Woman's Song, Mali, 4-beat

B B SsTtB Ss sSs  B B SsTtB Ss sSsB B SsTtB Ss sSs...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Funky Samba; South America, 4-beat

T T B  t t bBbB   T T B  t t bBbB T T B  t t bBbB ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Baladi; Middle East, 4-beat

B B TtS B TtS Ts  B B TtS B TtS TsB B TtS B TtS Ts...
|_-_-_!_|_-_!_-!  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Added to Baladi; Middle-Eastern influence, 3+3+2 4-beat

B TtT B TtT TtT   B TtT B TtT TtT B TtT B TtT TtT ...
|_-_-_:_-_-_:_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Added to Baladi; solo pattern, 4-beat; original "fixed hands"...

B tB tB B TtTtT   B tB tB B TtTtT B tB tB B TtTtT ...
|_-_-_-_|___--!_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

...or Tim's alternating hands

B Tb tB B TtTtT   B Tb tB B TtTtT B Tb tB B TtTtT ...
|_-_-_-_|___--!_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Added to Baladi; exit solo pattern, fixed hands...

BBsBBsB B Ss Ss   BBsBBsB B Ss Ss BBsBBsB B Ss Ss ...
|_!_-!-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

...or Tim's alternating hands

BbSbBsB B Ss sS   BbSbBsB B Ss sS BbSbBsB B Ss sS ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Tiriba; dance song, Guinea, 3-beat

B  tS         B  tS B  tS B  tS B  tS B  tS B  tS ...
|_-_-_        |_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_...

BtT S Bs bS   BtT S Bs bS BtT S Bs bS BtT S Bs bS ...
|_-_-_|_-_-_  |_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_...

B SbTtBs bTt  B SbTtBs bTtB SbTtBs bTtB SbTtBs bTt...
|__-__|__-__  |__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__...

Tiriba pattern 3 again, lazy-hands for less "shoulder-burn"

B sBtTbS BtT  B sBtTbS BtTB sBtTbS BtTB sBtTbS BtT...
|_!_-_|!_-__  |__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__...

Maraka; warrior's song, Mali, 3-beat

B TtS BsTtS   B TtS BsTtS B TtS BsTtS B TtS BsTtS ...
|_-_-_|!-_-_  |_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_...

Maraka call "gu-za pe-ta" pattern...

S Ts b        S Ts bS Ts bS Ts bS Ts bS Ts bS Ts b...
|__-__        |__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__...

...same as above, driving the pulse from strong hand...

S tS b        S tS bS tS bS tS bS tS bS tS bS tS b...
|__!__        |__!__|__!__|__!__|__!__|__!__|__!__...

Maraka response "triplet trick" pattern

BtTbSs        BtTbSsBtTbSsBtTbSsBtTbSsBtTbSsBtTbSs...
|__-!!        |_-_!!|_-_!!|_-_!!|_-_!!|_-_!!|_-_!!...

Frooa; "pass the part", West Africa, 4-beat

B TtB S           B TtB S B TtB S B TtB S B TtB S ...
|_-_-_-_          |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Frooa; passed part 1

TtTtS S           B TtB S TtTtS S B TtB S B TtB S ...
1_-_-_-_          |_-_-_-_1_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Frooa; passed part 2...

TtTtS   S T S   TtTtS S S S S    
2_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_ 

...in context:

B TtB S TtTtS   S T S   TtTtS S S S S    B TtB S B TtB S B TtB S ...

|_-_-_-_2_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Sofa; warrior's song (narrative solos?), Mali, 4-beat

TtTt  S Ss Sb S   TtTt  S Ss Sb S TtTt  S Ss Sb S ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Sofa accompaniment; "Is; it is what it is", 4-beat

S  sS Tt          S  sS TtS  sS TtS  sS TtS  sS Tt...
|_-_-_-_          |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Sofa Solo 1; a child's idea of battle?

BtS BtS BtStBtS   BtS BtS BtStBtS BtS BtS BtStBtS ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Fanga; West African, "Ashe Ashe" vocal, 4-beat

B  t tT B B Tt    B  t tT B B Tt  B  t tT B B Tt  ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Fanga after-break instrumental pattern, de-emphasising bass 

B  bB TtB B B Tt  B  bB TtB B B TtB  bB TtB B B Tt...
|_-_-_!!|_-_-_!!  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Shangaan; jembe adaptation of Southern African stick-drumming song, 4-beat

B T b   TtTtB     B T b   TtTtB   B T b   TtTtB   ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Shangaan "second round" pattern...

    TtTtB   B t B   Bt tB   BtB 
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_

...both "round" parts in context...

B T b   TtTtB   B T b   TtTtB   B T b   TtTtB   B T b   TtTtB   ...
    TtTtB   B t B   Bt tB   BtB     TtTtB   B t B   Bt tB   BtB ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Shangaan "dotted-time" solo...

TtStTsTtStTsTtStTtStTsTtS   BtB   
|_!_-!-_|_-!-_!_|_!_-!-_|_-_-_-_...

...without the "ghost tones" for pulse-count timing...

  S  s  S  s  S   S  s  S   BtB ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

...variant of above...

TtS  s  S  s  Ss  S  s  S  tB B ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Qwenu; dance song, Ghana, 4-beat

b   TtT b T b T   b   TtT b T b T b   TtT b T b T ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

B Tt  Tt          B Tt  TtB Tt  TtB Tt  TtB Tt  Tt...
|_-_-_-_          |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Wamila; celebration song, Ghana, "Balobi" and "Aiii-ya" vocal, 4-beat

B Tt tT   B Tt tT B Tt tT B Tt tT B Tt tT ...
|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Barawieliele ("Let The Work Begin"); West Africa, 4-beat

B BtB T B TtTtT   B BtB T B TtTtT B BtB T B TtTtT ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Kuku; full moon song, Ivory Coast, 4-beat

B Tt  S           B Tt  S B Tt  S B Tt  S B Tt  S ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Kuku, Bevil's response pattern

B   B   S s Ss    B   B   S s Ss  B   B   S s Ss  ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Kuku, Bevil's response-to-response pattern

  TtB b B Tt  S     TtB b B Tt  S   TtB b B Tt  S ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Some of these songs have more patterns that we will come to in time!


20 May 2022

Lesson 0: A Simple Pulse

If interested in hand drumming, you can start here, before you even see a jembe!

To get started with "big beats", just walk - your feet will play crotchets as you do so, and we can notate that as...

F f F f F f F f F f F f F f F f ...
|_-_-_-_-_-_
-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_...

...where F = strong foot, f = weak foot (usually corresponding with strong and weak hands; more folks are right-handed than left-handed).  These "big beats" are what you stomp to, when listening to "doef" dance music.  Foot stomping and walking on the spot don't work for me, as well as an unbounded natural walk!

Your two hands are more agile, and can play twice as fast; try that as you walk, so that each strong hand slaps your body whenever one of your feet hit the ground.  Using H and h for hands, we have:

HhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhHhHh...
F f F f F f F f F f F f F f F f ...
|_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_...

More opportunities to practice; anywhere you are standing sitting is good, using your legs, sink, steering wheel etc. as the "drum skin". 

Practice alternating hands evenly, for your first pulse; just as sitting on a motorcycle is an essential skill before anything else, so this is to drumming!


18 May 2022

Some Jembe Patterns

Notation for some jembe patterns from our circle...

Pineapple Apricot (thanks, Bevil) 4-beat

B TtTtT   B TtTtT B TtTtT B TtTtT B TtTtT ...
|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Jembe pattern 1 (West African) 4-beat

B SsTtS   B SsTtS B SsTtS B SsTtS B SsTtS ...
|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Pa ta boom 2-beat (also part of Jembe song)

B Tt  TtB TtB TtB TtB TtB TtB TtB TtB TtB Tt...
|_-_    |_-_|_-_|_-_|_-_|_-_|_-_|_-_|_-_|_-_...

Pa ta boom boom boom 4-beat

B TtB TtB B B Tt  B TtB TtB B B TtB TtB TtB B B Tt...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Jan Pierewiet 3-beat

B TtS   B TtS B TtS B TtS B TtS B TtS B TtS ...
|_-_-_  |_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_...

6-8 triplets 3-beat

BtTbTt  BtTbTtBtTbTtBtTbTtBtTbTtBtTbTtBtTbTt...
|__-__  |__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__...

Gun gun pete 3-beat

B B Tt  B B TtB B TtB B TtB B TtB B TtB B Tt...
|_-_-_  |_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_...

Mboshi part 2 (Congo) 3-beat

B B TtS S Tt  B B TtS S TtB B TtS S TtB B TtS S Tt...
|_-_-_|_-_-_  |_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_...

Kuku pattern 1 (West African) 4-beat

B Tt  S   B Tt  S B Tt  S B Tt  S B Tt  S B Tt  S ...
|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Kuku pattern a la Bevil (West African) 4-beat

B   B   S s Ss    B   B   S s Ss  B   B   S s Ss  ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Anchor (call-and-response game) 4-beat, ends on the next "one"

B Tb bTtB  B Tb bTtB       B Tb bTtB       ...
|_-_-_-_|  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Response A (call-and-response game) 4-beat, follows the "one"

  TtTtS              TtTtS                 ...
|___--!_|  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Response B (call-and-response game) 4-beat, follows the "one"

  F   F                             F   F  ...
|_-_-_-_|  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

(Note: I have not checked the timing accuracy of the following, via HotStepper...)

4-beat Call ("now we come to the end of the song")

F Ss S sS SsS   S
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_!

Cross-call, 4-beat to 3-beat ("krunk a dunk - GuDuGu, PaTaPa, go!") 

F Ss  BbB SsS (3-beat follows...)
|_-_-_|_-_|_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_...

3-beat Call ("krunk a dunk a dunk...") 

F Ss Ss Ss  F
|_-_-_|_-_-_!

Space-clearing song (West African) 4-beat

B T B Tt Tt S   S   B Tt Tt S   
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_

Call and responses for above

F Ss S sS 
          SsSsS           SsSsS  
                  TtTtT           TtTtT   
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_!(to song)

Bevil's song (sequential parts, change on hand-wave) 4-beat

B B Tt  B         B B Tt  B       B B Tt  B       ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

B B Tt  B Ss      B B Tt  B Ss    B B Tt  B Ss    ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

B B Tt  B TtTt    B B Tt  B TtTt  B B Tt  B TtTt  ...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

B B Tt  B TtTtTt  B B Tt  B TtTtTtB B Tt  B TtTtTt...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

In most of the above, I first show the pattern on its own, then an arbitrary space, then the same pattern as repeated, to show how it may loop back on itself.  This is helpful for patterns such as Pa Ta Boom (which actually starts on the "boom") where the tail runs into the next "one".

Jembe Notation Redux

To read the patterns and songs on this site, you'll need to understand this notation:

B = strong-hand Bass (open palm in center of drum skin)
b = weak-hand Bass

T = strong-hand Tone (closed flat hand at rim of drum skin)
t = weak-hand Tone

S = strong-hand Slap (hand flick at rim of drum skin)
s = weak-hand Slap

F = two-hand Flam

Capital letters for strong hand, small letters for weak hand.  This doesn't say anything about loud or quiet; look to the line below the hand beats, for the start of the bar (the "one") and the feel of the pulse. 

Try these examples:

B TtTtT   B TtTtT B TtTtT B TtTtT B TtTtT ...
|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

B TtS   B TtS B TtS B TtS B TtS B TtS B TtS ...
|_-_-_  |_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_...

BtTbTt  BtTbTtBtTbTtBtTbTtBtTbTtBtTbTtBtTbTt...
|__-__  |__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__...

B B Tt  B B TtB B TtB B TtB B TtB B TtB B Tt...
|_-_-_  |_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_|_-_-_...

B Tt  B TtB TtB TtB TtB TtB TtB TtB TtB Tt...
|_-_  |_-_|_-_|_-_|_-_|_-_|_-_|_-_|_-_|_-_...

B TtB TtB B B Tt  B TtB TtB B B TtB TtB TtB B B Tt...
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

You may wonder why we need yet another notation, and why I post patterns here rather than Facebook or WhatsApp?

I avoid Facebook and WhatsApp so I can use fixed-pitched fonts to keep the spacing correct.  Almost all web site comment sections can do this, but to do this in WhatsApp, I have to write this...

B Tt
|_-_

...like this...

```B Tt```
```|_-_```

...which I find too tedious to bother - like going to the pre-WYSIWYG days of WordStar for DOS.


Why Yet Another Jembe Notation

Notation systems abound, so why do we need yet another one?  Let's look at what is already out there...

Blob and Stave

Western classical music notation seems to have evolved on an ad-hoc basis, from notating early vocal church music. This was slow, so the first note symbols started with a Breve spanning 2 bars, then dividing down from there to Semi-Breves, Minims, Crotchets, Quavers and halves of those from there.

All of this happened in the age of the quill pen, a "dot" of which would make a line, rather than a dot.  It's remained that way, since ye olde gothic script!

Notating jembe patterns this way is possible, in the same way running in a scuba suit is possible. Just as those long flippers cripple attempts to run, so the assumption that all note times arise by dividing by two is as crippling for most of the world's rhythms. Dividing the "big beats" of a stomping foot into three instead of two, should not be treated as a "special case"!  American attempts to modernize this, actually make things worse; now these note values are described as fractions of a four-four bar, increasing the Western lock-in to what they call the "simple time signatures".

But the killer issue with this notation, is that one cannot type it in plain text, nor can one read it directly to voice. That's why you don't see music notation symbols here; would require scratching around in fonts that may not be present on systems used to read this post.  The same hassle applies to the pretty symbols used by Percussion Studio, as adopted for some books of jembe patterns.  Next!

Vocal Notation

West African patterns are traditionally notated as an oral tradition:

Gun - strong-hand bass (center of drum)
Dun - weak-hand bass

Pe - strong-hand tone (flat hand at rim)
Te - weak-hand tone

Pa - strong-hand slap (hand flick at rim)
Ta - weak-hand slap

Pre - two-hand tone flam
Pra - two-hand slap flam

These phrases alternate in the mouth as easily as their hand actions do on the drum skin; alternating hands is mechanically efficient and thus the most common handing, especially when at the same place on the drum.  

Jembe circles will usually use this method to teach patterns, but it's still clumsy to write; the phrases have different lengths, and a pattern can span much of a line of text.  So, not ideal for email.

Notation Used Here

Western notation is to drumming what Roman numerals are to arithmetic; there's little correlation between spacing on a line, and for what it encodes. It's easy to see that 200 is a bigger number than 18; less obvious when written written as CC vs. XVIII, and the same applies to "blob and stave".

Most of the less formal notations involve spacing symbols to represent the flow of time, e.g....

Gun . Pa Ta Pe Te Pa .

...and as long as one can use a fixed-pitch font (a given in plain text, and nearly every blog comment facility, with Facebook and WhatsApp being abnormally useless in that regard), one can ensure accurate spacing, so that lines of patterns can fit into each other, e.g:

Gun| . |Pa  |Ta  |Pe  |Te |Pa | . |
Gun| . |Pe  |Te  |Gun | . |Pe |Te |

Now we're getting somewhere, but it's still a bit tedious having to space things out and add extra characters to separate stuff.  Also, HTML (increasingly used everywhere) is cavalier with white space, so any double spaces are likely to be "optimized" to a single space.

So on this site, I'll use the following notation, where each instruction is a single character that tells you exactly what to do - what you read is what you do, rather than what you read is what it sounds like, requiring another step to convert that to what you do. Strong-hand actions in Caps, weak-hand actions in lower case, B for bass, T for tone, S for slap and F for flams.  Not quite ideal, as F may be tone flams (more common, so the default) or slap flams, but so far, so good!

B_SsTtS_
B_TtB_Tt

It's tempting to assume Caps are louder than small letters, but this isn't the case; the weak hand beats are not always quieter, it depends on the pattern.  Also, some patterns "wrap around", and that's not easy to see when notated as a single bar, as above.

We can fix the first problem by adding an optional line under the hand actions, to show the dynamics; also an opportunity to add bar lines, sub-bars where applicable, or numbering for bars if needed.

B_SsTtS_
|_-_-_-_

B_TtB_Tt
|_-_-_-_

We fix the second problem by repeating the pattern as played, so it can wrap around: 

B_SsTtS_  B_SsTtS_B_SsTtS_B_SsTtS_B_SsTtS_...
|_-_-_-_  
|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

B_TtB_Tt  B_TtB_TtB_TtB_TtB_TtB_TtB_TtB_Tt...
|_-_-_-_  |_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_|_-_-_-_...

Now we're really getting somewhere! We can use : for sub-bar separators, and ! for especially loud beats... but most of the time, the emphasis line is simply the feel of the time signature.

Examples

After a while, just looking at the notation gives clues as to how to approach it.  Alternating hands will show as alternating Upper and lower case; playing "primitives" or fixed hands would look different. 

You can also see potential difficulties; patterns that start with a weak hand on the "one", one-drop where the "one" is not played, wrap-arounds where the pattern doesn't end on a space, and challenging hand movements, such as flam-to-bass.  Here are some examples...

4-beat 4-4 Jembe pattern 1
B_SsTtS_  B_SsTtS_B_SsTtS_B_SsTtS_B_SsTtS_...
|_-_-_-_  1_-_-_-_2_-_-_-_3_-_-_-_1_-_-_-_...

3-beat 3-4 "Jan Pierewiet"
B_TtS_    B_TtS_B_TtS_B_TtS_B_TtS_B_TtS_...
|_-_-_    1_-_-_2_-_-_3_-_-_4_-_-_1_-_-_...

The above shows how different bar lengths can predictably drift in and out of sync, when played at the same tempo (beat timings)... as long as HTML rendering doesn't "eat spaces".  Plain text is best!

3-beat 3-4 slow "triplet trick"
B_t_T_b_T_t_  B_t_T_b_T_t_B_t_T_b_T_t_B_t_T_b_T_t_...
A_-_-_B_-_-_  A_-_-_B_-_-_A_-_-_B_-_-_A_-_-_B_-_-_...

3-beat 6-8 fast "triplet trick"
BtTbTtBtTbTt  BtTbTtBtTbTtBtTbTtBtTbTtBtTbTtBtTbTt...
|__-__|__-__  |__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__|__-__...

Above you see the difference between 6 divided by 3 for "1 and 2 and 3 and " waltz (3-4) timing, vs. 6 divided by 2 for "1 and then 2 and then " "6-8" timing.  Yes, "blob and stave" blows a fuse when asked to divide by 3; we have to count six quavers instead!  Given the frequent ambiguity in the most interesting patterns, I prefer to speak of "3 beats" and "4 beats" rather than Western signatures.

Bo Diddley-style additive 3+3+2 4-beat 4-4 timing
BtTbTtB_  BtTbTtB_BtTbTtB_BtTbTtB_BtTbTtB_BtTbTtB_...
|__:__:_  |__-__-_|__-__-_|__-__-_|__-__-_|__-__-_...

A similar additive approach to 3-beat
TbTTbb  TbTTbbTbTTbbTbTTbbTbTTbbTbTTbbTbTTbbTbTTbb...
|_:___  |_-___|_-___|_-___|_-___|_-___|_-___|_-___...

You can see the last pattern breaks the "alternating hands" rule that usually suits symmetrical drumming best. I find for arbitrary timings and pulses, fixed-hands may work better; it also helps drive the divide-by-three pulse, as the strong hand is on the louder beats of the pulse.

I'll probably post more on pulses and handings later  :-)