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04.09.2013 Feature Article

My Journey Through Percussion Notation - Doris Green

My Journey Through Percussion Notation - Doris Green
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Permit me to introduce myself. My name is Doris Green. I am a retired Fulbright scholar to Africa, creator of Greenotation, certified teacher of Labanotation, and U.S. State Department Cultural Specialist to Ghana. I have been the recipient of a number of awards to study, conduct research and to teach in Africa.

I began my illustrative career as the creator of Greenotation system that allows music of percussion instruments to be written on paper and aligned with the accompanying dance movements, when I was a teenager in high school. I was always interested in music and dance, particularly rhythm. Thus I was given formal music and dance training from early childhood and continued throughout graduate school.

While in the classroom the teacher said that any sound could be written with the Pitman stenography system. I ponder this and said to myself, when the drum is played, it makes a sound, therefore, why not write drum sounds. With that I picked up my pencil and took the symbol for the word 'drum' in shorthand. From this symbol I was able to write my first drum sounds. They were Do-do-do-dum, chak. Essentially these symbols represented three open sounds, a closed sound, and a slap to the drum. Drummers know these sounds as 'Bass, Tone, and Slap."

I am the fourth child born into a middle class family of southern parents who migrated from the south to make a better living. We lived in Brooklyn. From my earliest recollection, I realized that boys were accorded greater opportunities than girls. This would establish a mindset to challenge the circumstances and to create an occupation that would distinguish me from everyone else.

Institutional racism and devastation beset me on all avenues, particularly limiting my school time to only 'four hours a day' during my primary years from kindergarten through the end of the fifth grade. I would struggle to overcome this fault and excel becoming -part of the Honor Section in high school, earning a number of certificates of honor in route to graduation. This is meant as a message to girls in particular, no matter what conditions befall you in life NEVER give up. When one obstacle blocks your route, find a way to go around it.

My autobiography entitled No Longer an Oral Tradition: My Journey Through Percussion Notation was published in 2010 and is available on line.

I will use my column to share with the readers articles about African music and dance, reviews and other interesting things. You will be able to see how stenography led to Greenotation a system wherein music of instruments such as bells, rattles, drums, xylophones and even water drums can be written. For additional information on me please view my website
Welcome to my column.

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