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CMS Alumnus Invents New Flute and Launches Project for Guinea

Sylvain Leroux Launches Music Literacy Kickstarter

CMS alumnus Sylvain Leroux (flutist & saxophonist, etc.) launched a Kickstarter campaign. The project aims to develop a pedagogic music literacy method based on the use of his recently patented invention, the “chromatic tambin.” He wants to demonstrate that this instrument, which can be made onsite from widely available plastic tubing, can be used to teach the fundamentals of music theory to children in Guinea, and possibly elsewhere. As of the publication of this article, the campaign achieved over 25% of its funding goal with 12 days to go.

As a young jazz-oriented, classically trained flutist, Sylvain attended the Creative Music Studio for the first time in the Spring of 1978 when he participated in workshops led by Ingrid, Karl Berger, Don Cherry, Leo Smith, Alan Ginsberg, Carla Bley, Jimmy Giuffre… to name a only a few. Inspired by the idea of World Music he discovered at CMS, he followed his interest for African music all the way to Conakry to study the tambin (a.k.a. Fula flute), a traditional three-hole sideblown Guinean flute, remarkable for its vital sound and the exuberant vocalizations that accompany it.

Later, in collaboration with Guinean tambin master Bailo Bah he produced the album “Fula Flute" which was influential and contributed to worldwide awareness of the instrument. The music from the CD has been ubiquitous on Guinean radio and television for more than a decade. 

Leroux has visited Guinea many times. Initially to study the tambin, his relationship with the country has evolved into a more personal one. Many times his friends expressed to him that he should open a music school there. This seemed an impossible dream until the advent of his invention. Then, he saw that this simple instrument could help lay the foundation for an eventual fully-fledged music school.

He therefore began striving to prove the validity of the concept with a first step earlier in 2013 when he spent a month in Conakry teaching the wonderful children of the Tyabala Center the basics of flute playing. They took to the flute enthusiastically and this demonstrated that the instrument was adequate for use by children for the intended purpose. The next step, which is covered by the current Kickstarter project, consist in a four month stay to dive further into the children’s instruction and work with them to achieve tangible results in music literacy.

Anyone interested is invited to discover Sylvain’s project and to contribute to make his interesting idea a reality. Visit the following link for further information:

Sylvain is active on the New York City music scene, playing in Karl Berger’s Improvisers’ Orchestra, Adam Rudolph’s Go: Organic Orchestra, his own African Jazz band Source;and can be found playing flute and sax every Wednesday with the great Guinean band Mandingo Ambassadors at Barbès in Park Slope Brooklyn. 

Sylvain Leroux teaching flute in Conakry, in 2013. Photo by Bakoutoubou Doukoure


Sylvain Leroux. Photo by Christopher Drukker


Creative Music Studio Workshop - Spring 2016

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