Fiche Personne
Théâtre Cinéma/TV Littérature / édition Histoire/société Média

Doris Green

Ecrivain/ne, Universitaire, Ethnomusicologue, Directeur/trice de publication


Doris Green is an ethnomusicologist, Fulbright scholar, creator of Greenotation, a system for writing music for percussion instruments of Africa, certified teacher of Labanotation and a U.S. State Department Cultural Specialist. She publishes Traditions Journal which is dedicated to the preservation of African music and dance.


Doris Green was born in Brooklyn. At a very early age she became interested in things rhythmic, which led to formal music and dance training. As a student of Mary Bruce Dance School, she appeared at the Apollo Theater, Town Hall, and Carnegie Hall. Mary Bruce gave her the opportunity to dance to the beat of the Congo drums. Each year as a part of the annual recital at Carnegie Hall, Green had a special solo spot called « Queen of the Jungle Mist. » This increased her interest in drumming and African dance. Shortly thereafter she started taking drumming lessons from various African students residing in the US. These teachers included Olatunji, Kobla Ladzekpo, Godfrey Sackeyfio, Asafadje Netty, and Tamba Alpha. Within a short time, she started her own dance group-The Paleozoics- then was artistic director of Omo Africa, The African Cultural Association of America, and the AfroSoulfolklore Ensemble.
As director of her own groups, she discovered that the average drummer had no formal music training and there was no system for notating the different drum beats. Therefore, many rehearsals turned out to be « jam sessions. » The lack of a notation system for African rhythms was paralyzing her musicians. While studying dance notation in college, she applied, adapted the Labanotation system to sound, and combined it with her system for notating percussion instruments, thereby not only enhancing her notation system, but also creating a system that could incorporate both music and dance in one integrated score. Her work in percussion notation has been hailed by the OAU (Organization for African Unity), as an outstanding achievement and they recommended it for inclusion in the curriculum of all African universities. Upon graduation in 1969 Green became the first person to teach African dance and music at Brooklyn College.
In her new role as lecturer at Brooklyn College, she went to East Africa to study. She worked with the Kalendelele Utamaduni Troupe in Tanzania. As the recipient of three Faculty Research Awards from CUNY, she studied and researched in various places of Africa from the rural villages to the universities in more than 25 nations of Africa where she taught her system of notation.
Doris Green was the recipient of a Fulbright award to Ivory Coast and Gambia 1986-87. She also served as a US State Department Cultural Specialist, at the University of Ghana at Legon where she taught both Greenotation and Labanotation in an effort to establish the first written archive of African music and dance. Her writings appear in a number of magazines, journals, and books, namely The Journal of Performing Arts (University of Ghana), The International Encyclopedia of Dance, and African Dance: An Artistic, Historical and Philosophical Inquiry. She is one of one hundred Black Sisters who wrote a letter that is included in the book Go, Tell Michelle in support of Michelle Obama. She has also written her autobiography as well as the textbook Greenotation: Manuscripts of African Music and Dance. Visit
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