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This Week in Beat Making: Hip-Hop Made in a Senegalese Hospital This Week in Beat Making: Hip-Hop Made in a Senegalese Hospital

This Week in Beat Making: Hip-Hop Made in a Senegalese Hospital

by Pierce Freelon
June 7, 2013


Here's a crazy experiment: visit a hospital and try to make a beat using only sounds that you find at the facility. What would you come up with? This was a question we posed to our student—a Senegalese beat maker named Ina—and her counterparts, thousands of miles away in Fiji.

We took Ina to a health care facility outside of Dakar with a recording device, and asked her to collect audio samples. She grabbed all types of noises: babies crying, the sound of velcro being ripped off of a blood pressure gauge, the clanging of metal stretchers, and even goats roaming the hospital grounds. She also recorded interviews, asking children, patients, health workers and community leaders what they thought about family planning. These sounds became the foundation of an instrumental beat, which we hope will help raise awareness about family planning in West Africa.

The unusual composition came about after brainstorming with a global health organization called Intrahealth. Their focus in West Africa is to educate communities about healthy intervals between births, contraception options, and cultural misconceptions about family planning. Our focus in West Africa is merging the worlds of art and activism through music and beat making.

So Ina, from our Senegal Beat Making Lab collected stories from the hospital (images, sounds, voices, cries, and laughter), and a group of students from our Fiji Beat Making Lab turned these stories into beats (kicks, snares, hi-hats, melodies, and samples).

We're not sure if the experiment will be successful, but we do know two things:

1. Our students had fun collaborating and applying their skills as musicians to something that could benefit the world.

2. Intrahealth is awesome for embracing such a radical solution to a serious global health issue.

Beat Making Lab builds studios in cultural centers around the world and trains youth musicians in the art of beat making. This post is part of a This Week in Beat Making, a weekly series on GOOD—follow our adventures with new episodes here every Wednesday.

Help us find a community to bring our beats to. Click here to add this to your To-Do list.

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