Music of Africa
The traditional music of Africa, given the vastness of the continent, is ancient and diverse, with different regions and nations of Africa having many distinct musical traditions. Music in Africa is important when it comes to religion. Songs and music are used in rituals and religious ceremonies, to pass down stories from generation to generation, as well as to sing and dance to. Traditional music in most of the continent is not written. In sub-Saharan African music traditions, it relies on percussion instruments of every variety, including xylophones, djembes and tone-producing instruments such as the mbira or "thumb piano."The music and dance of the African diaspora, formed to varying degrees on African musical traditions, include American music and many Caribbean genres, such as soca and zouk. Latin American music genres such as the rumba, bomba, cumbia and samba were founded on the music of enslaved Africans, have in turn influenced African popular music. Like the music of Asia and the Middle East, it is a rhythmic music.
African music consists of complex rhythmic patterns involving one rhythm played against another to create a polyrhythm. The most common polyrhythm plays three beats on top of two, like a triplet played against straight notes. Beyond the rhythmic nature of the music, African music differs from Western music in that the various parts of the music do not combine in a harmonious fashion. African musicians aim to express life, in all its aspects, through the medium of sound; each instrument or part may represent a different character. African music does not have a written tradition; this makes it impossible to notate the music – the melodies and harmonies – using the Western staff. There are subtle differences in pitch and intonation that do not translate to Western notation. African music most adheres to Western tetratonic, pentatonic and heptatonic scales. Harmonization of the melody is accomplished by singing in fourths, or fifths. Another distinguishing form of African music is its call-and-response nature: one voice or instrument plays a short melodic phrase, that phrase is echoed by another voice or instrument.
The call-and-response nature extends to the rhythm, where one drum will play a rhythmic pattern, echoed by another drum playing the same pattern. African music is highly improvised. A core rhythmic pattern is played, with drummers improvising new patterns over the static original patterns. North Africa is the seat of ancient Egypt and Carthage, civilizations with strong ties to the ancient Near East and which influenced the ancient Greek and Roman cultures. Egypt fell under Persian rule followed by Greek and Roman rule, while Carthage was ruled by Romans and Vandals. North Africa was conquered by the Arabs, who established the region as the Maghreb of the Arab world. Like the musical genres of the Nile Valley and the Horn of Africa, its music has close ties with Middle Eastern music and utilizes similar melodic modes. North African music has a considerable range, from the music of ancient Egypt to the Berber and the Tuareg music of the desert nomads; the region's art music has for centuries followed the outline of Arabic and Andalusian classical music: its popular contemporary genres include the Algerian Raï.
With these may be grouped the music of Sudan and of the Horn of Africa, including the music of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. Somali music is pentatonic, using five pitches per octave in contrast to a heptatonic scale such as the major scale; the music of the Ethiopian highlands uses a fundamental modal system called qenet, of which there are four main modes: tezeta, bati and anchihoy. Three additional modes are variations on the above: tezeta minor, bati major, bati minor; some songs take the name such as tizita, a song of reminiscence. The ethnomusicological pioneer Arthur Morris Jones observed that the shared rhythmic principles of Sub-Saharan African music traditions constitute one main system. Master drummer and scholar C. K. Ladzekpo affirms the "profound homogeneity" of sub-Saharan African rhythmic principles. African traditional music is functional in nature. Performances may be long and involve the participation of the audience. There are, for example, little different kinds of work songs, songs accompanying childbirth, marriage and political activities, music to ward off evil spirits and to pay respects to good spirits, the dead and the ancestors.
None of this is performed outside its intended socialess context and much of it is associated with a particular dance. Some of it, performed by professional musicians, is sacral music or ceremonial and courtly music performed at royal courts. Musicologically, Sub-Saharan Africa may be divided into four regions: The eastern region includes the music of Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi and Zimbabwe as well as the islands of Madagascar, the Seychelles and Comor. Many of these have been influenced by Arabic music and by the music of India and Polynesia, though the region's indigenous musical traditions are in the mainstream of the sub-Saharan Niger–Congo-speaking peoples; the southern region includes the music of South Afric
The Hausa are the largest ethnic group in Africa and the second largest language after Arabic in the Afroasiatic family of languages. The Hausa are a diverse but culturally homogeneous people based in the Sahelian and the sparse savanna areas of southern Niger and northern Nigeria numbering over 70 million people with significant indegenized populations in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Togo, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Gambia Predominantly Hausa-speaking communities are scattered throughout West Africa and on the traditional Hajj route north and east traversing the Sahara, with an large population in and around the town of Agadez. Other Hausa have moved to large coastal cities in the region such as Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abidjan and Cotonou as well as to parts of North Africa such as Libya over the course of the last 5,000 years; the Hausa, traditionally live in small villages as well as in precolonial towns and cities where they grow crops, raise livestock including cattle as well as engage in trade, both local and long distance across Africa.
They speak an Afro-Asiatic language of the Chadic group. The Hausa aristocracy had developed an equestrian based culture. Still a status symbol of the traditional nobility in Hausa society, the horse still features in the Eid day celebrations, known as Ranar Sallah. Daura city is the cultural centre of the Hausa people; the town predates all the other major Hausa towns in culture. The Hausa have in the last 500 years criss crossed the vast African landscape in all its four corners for varieties of reasons ranging from military service, long distance trade, performance of hajj, fleeing from oppressive kings and feudalism as well as spreading Islam; the table below shows Hausa ethnic population distribution by country of indegenization: Daura, in northern Nigeria, is the oldest city of Hausaland. The Hausa of Gobir in northern Nigeria, speak the oldest surviving classical vernacular of the language. Katsina was the centre of Hausa Islamic scholarship but was replaced by Sokoto stemming from the 17th century Usman Dan Fodio Islamic reform.
The Hausa are culturally and closest to other Sahelian ethnic groups the Fula. All of these various ethnic groups among and around the Hausa live in the vast and open lands of the Sahel and Sudanian regions, as a result of the geography and the criss crossing network of traditional African trade routes, have had their cultures influenced by their Hausa neighbours, as noted by T. L. Hodgkin “The great advantage of Kano is that commerce and manufactures go hand in hand, that every family has a share in it. There is something grand about this industry, which spreads to the north as far as Murzuk and Tripoli, to the West, not only to Timbuctu, but in some degree as far as the shores of the Atlantic, the inhabitants of Arguin dressing in the cloth woven and dyed in Kano. In clear testimony to T. L Hodgkin's claim, the people of Agadez and Saharan areas of central Niger, the Tuareg and the Hausa groups are indistinguishable from each other in their traditional clothing, but the two groups differ in language and preferred beasts of burden.
Other Hausa have mixed with ethnic groups southwards such as the Yoruba of old Oyo and Igbirra in the northern fringes of the forest belt and in similar fashion to their Sahelian neighbors have influenced the cultures of these groups. Islamic Shari’a law is loosely the law of the land in Hausa areas, well understood by any Islamic scholar or teacher, known in Hausa as a m'allam, mallan or malam; this pluralist attitude toward ethnic-identity and cultural affiliation has enabled the Hausa to inhabit one of the largest geographic regions of non-Bantu ethnic groups in Africa. The Nok culture appeared in Northern Nigeria around 1000 BC and vanished under unknown circumstances around 300 AD in the region of West Africa, it is believed to be the product of an ancestral nation that branched to create the Hausa, the people of Gwandara language, Kanuri, Nupe peoples, The Kwatarkwashi Culture of Tsafe or Chafe in present day Zamfara State located to the North west of Nok is thought to be the same as or an earlier ancestor of the Nok.
Nok's social system is thought to have been advanced. The Nok culture is considered to be the earliest sub-Saharan producer of life-sized Terracotta; the refinement of this culture is attested to by the image of a Nok dignitary at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The dignitary is portrayed wearing a "crooked baton" The dignitary is portrayed sitting with flared nostrils, an open mouth suggesting performance. Other images show figures on horseback. Iron use, in smelting and forging for tools, appears in Nok culture in Africa at least by 550 BC and earlier. Christoph
The talking drum is an hourglass-shaped drum from West Africa, whose pitch can be regulated to mimic the tone and prosody of human speech. It has two drumheads connected by leather tension cords, which allow the player to modulate the pitch of the drum by squeezing the cords between their arm and body. A skilled player is able to play whole phrases. Most talking drums sound like a human humming depending on the way they are played. Similar hourglass-shaped drums are found in Asia, but they are not used to mimic speech, although the idakka is used to mimic vocal music. Hourglass-shaped talking drums are some of the oldest instruments used by West African griots and their history can be traced back to the Yoruba people, the Ghana Empire and the Hausa people; the Yoruba people of south western Nigeria and Benin and the Dagomba of northern Ghana) have developed a sophisticated genre of griot music centering on the talking drum. Many variants of the talking drums evolved, with most of them having the same construction mentioned above.
Soon, many non-hourglass shapes showed up and were given special names, such as the Dunan, Kenkeni and Ngoma drums. This construction is limited to within the contemporary borders of West Africa, with exceptions to this rule being northern Cameroon and western Chad. In Senegalese and Gambian history, the tama was one of the music instruments used in the Serer people's "Woong" tradition; the tama drum, has Serer religious connotations. In the Xaat tradition, the tama makes up the fourth musical drum ensemble; the Serer drums played include: Perngel, Lamb and Tama. From a historical perspective, the tama, was beaten by the griots of Senegambian kings on special occasions, such as during wars, when the kings wanted to address their subjects, on special circumstances in Serer country – a call for martyrdom, such as the mayhem at Tahompa and the Battle of Naoudourou, where the defeated Serers, committed suicide rather than be conquered by the Muslim forces or forced to submit to Islam. Suicide is permitted in Serer religion.
The word "Jom" means "honour" in the Serer language. The pitch of the drum is varied to mimic the tone patterns of speech; this is done by varying the tension placed on the drumhead: the opposing drum heads are connected by a common tension cord. The waist of the drum is held between the player's arm and ribs, so that when squeezed the drumhead is tightened, producing a higher note than when it's in its relaxed state; the drum can thus capture the pitch and rhythm of human speech, though not the qualities of vowels or consonants. The use of talking drums as a form of communication was noticed by Europeans in the first half of the eighteenth century. Detailed messages could be sent from one village to the next faster than could be carried by a person riding a horse. In the nineteenth century Roger T. Clarke, a missionary, realised that "the signals represent the tones of the syllables of conventional phrases of a traditional and poetic character." Like Chinese, many African languages are tonal.
The Yoruba language of the Yoruba people for instance is defined by the tri-tonic scale, consisting only of the tonic sol-fa notes, do, re, mi, different inflections of which are used to convey different messages, this same principle applies to how the drum talks in all of the Yoruba peoples music and culture. The problem was how to communicate complex messages without the use of vowels or consonants using tone. An English emigrant to Africa, John F. Carrington, in his 1949 book The Talking Drums of Africa explained how African drummers were able to communicate complex messages over vast distances. Using low tones referred to as male and higher female tones, the drummer communicates through the phrases and pauses, which can travel upwards of 4–5 miles; this process may take eight times longer than communicating a normal sentence but was effective for telling neighboring villages of possible attacks or ceremonies. He found that to each short word, beaten on the drums was added an extra phrase, which would be redundant in speech but provided context to the core drum signal.
The message "Come back home" might be translated by the drummers as: "Make your feet come back the way they went, make your legs come back the way they went, plant your feet and your legs below, in the village which belongs to us". Single words would be translated into phrases. For example, "moon" would be played as "the Moon looks towards earth", "war" as "war which causes attention to ambushes"; the extra phrases provide a context in which to drum beats. These phrases could not be randomized, when learning to play the drum students were taught the particular phrase that coincided with each word; this reason alone made learning to talk in drum language difficult and not many were willing to take the time to do so. The extra drum beats reduce the ambiguity of the meaning; the irony was that by the time the West understood the mechanism of the drums they began to diminish in use in Africa. It was not uncommon for words to lose their meaning. In an interview with Carrington he explaine
The Yorùbá people are an African ethnic group that inhabits western Africa. The Yoruba constitute about 44 million people in total. Majority of this population is from Nigeria, where the Yorùbá make up 21% of the country's population, according to the CIA World Factbook, making them one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. Most Yoruba people speak the Yoruba language, tonal, is the language with the largest number of native speakers; the Yorùbá share borders with the closely related Itsekiri to the south-east in the North West Niger delta, Bariba to the northwest in Benin, the Nupe to the north and the Ebira to the northeast in central Nigeria. To the east are the Edo, Ẹsan and the Afemai groups in mid-western Nigeria. Adjacent to the Ebira and Edo groups are the related Igala people found in the northeast, on the left bank of the Niger River. To the southwest are the Gbe speaking Mahi, Gun and Ewe who border Yoruba communities in Benin and Togo. To the southeast are Itsekiri who live in the north-west end of the Niger delta.
They chose to maintain a distinct cultural identity. Significant Yoruba populations in other West African countries can be found in Ghana, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone; the Yoruba diaspora consists of two main groupings. The other dates to the Atlantic slave trade and has communities in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia, Brazil and Trinidad and Tobago, other countries; as an ethnic description, the word "Yoruba" was in reference to the Oyo Empire and is the usual Hausa name for Oyo people as noted by Hugh Clapperton and Richard Lander. It was therefore popularized by Hausa usage and ethnography written in Ajami during the 19th century by Sultan Muhammad Bello; the extension of the term to all speakers of dialects related to the language of the Oyo dates to the second half of the 19th century. It is due to the influence of the first Anglican bishop in Nigeria. Crowther was himself an Oyo Yoruba and compiled the first Yoruba dictionary as well as introducing a standard for Yoruba orthography.
The alternative name Akú an exonym derived from the first words of Yoruba greetings has survived in certain parts of their diaspora as a self-descriptive in Sierra Leone. The Yoruba culture was an oral tradition, the majority of Yoruba people are native speakers of the Yoruba language; the number of speakers is estimated at about 30 million in 2010. Yoruba is classified within the Edekiri languages, which together with the isolate Igala, form the Yoruboid group of languages within what we now have as West Africa. Igala and Yoruba have important cultural relationships; the languages of the two ethnic groups bear such a close resemblance that researchers such as Forde and Westermann and Bryan regarded Igala as a dialect of Yoruba. The Yoruboid languages are assumed to have developed out of an undifferentiated Volta-Niger group by the 1st millennium BCE. There are three major dialect areas: Northwest and Southeast; as the North-West Yoruba dialects show more linguistic innovation, combined with the fact that Southeast and Central Yoruba areas have older settlements, suggests a date of immigration for Northwest Yoruba.
The area where North-West Yoruba is spoken corresponds to the historical Oyo Empire. South-East Yoruba was associated with the expansion of the Benin Empire after c. 1450. Central Yoruba forms a transitional area in that the lexicon has much in common with NWY, whereas it shares many ethnographical features with SEY. Literary Yoruba, the standard variety taught in schools and spoken by newsreaders on the radio, has its origin in the Yoruba grammar compiled in the 1850s by Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, who himself was a creole from Sierra Leone. Though for a large part based on the Oyo and Ibadan dialects, it incorporates several features from other dialects; as of the 7th century BCE the African peoples who lived in Yorubaland were not known as the Yoruba, although they shared a common ethnicity and language group. By the 8th century, a powerful Yoruba kingdom existed in Ile-Ife, one of the earliest in Africa; the historical Yoruba develop in situ, out of earlier Mesolithic Volta-Niger populations, by the 1st millennium BCE.
Oral history recorded under the Oyo Empire derives the Yoruba as an ethnic group from the population of the older kingdom of Ile-Ife. The Yoruba were the dominant cultural force in southern Nigeria as far back as the 11th century; the Yoruba are among the most urbanized people in Africa. For centuries before the arrival of the British colonial administration most Yoruba lived in well structured urban centres organized around powerful city-states centred around the residence of the Oba. In ancient times, most of these cities were fortresses, with high gates. Yoruba cities have always been among the most populous in Africa. Archaeological findings indicate that Òyó-Ilé or Katunga, capital of the Yoruba empire of Oyo, had a population of over 100,000 people. For a long time Ibadan, one of the major Yoruba cities, founded in the 1800s, was the largest city in the whole of Sub Saharan Africa. Today, Lagos (Yoruba: Èk
The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments. In the Hornbostel-Sachs classification system, it is a membranophone. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with the player's hands, or with a percussion mallet, to produce sound. There is a resonance head on the underside of the drum tuned to a lower pitch than the top drumhead. Other techniques have been used to cause drums to make sound, such as the thumb roll. Drums are the world's oldest and most ubiquitous musical instruments, the basic design has remained unchanged for thousands of years. Drums may be played individually, with the player using a single drum, some drums such as the djembe are always played in this way. Others are played in a set of two or more, all played by the one player, such as bongo drums and timpani. A number of different drums together with cymbals form the basic modern drum kit. Drums are played by striking with the hand, or with one or two sticks.
A wide variety of sticks are used, including wooden sticks and sticks with soft beaters of felt on the end. In jazz, some drummers use brushes for a smoother, quieter sound. In many traditional cultures, drums are used in religious ceremonies. Drums are used in music therapy hand drums, because of their tactile nature and easy use by a wide variety of people. In popular music and jazz, "drums" refers to a drum kit or a set of drums, "drummer" to the person who plays them. Drums acquired divine status in places such as Burundi, where the karyenda was a symbol of the power of the king; the shell always has a circular opening over which the drumhead is stretched, but the shape of the remainder of the shell varies widely. In the Western musical tradition, the most usual shape is a cylinder, although timpani, for example, use bowl-shaped shells. Other shapes include a frame design, truncated cones, goblet shaped, joined truncated cones. Drums with cylindrical shells can be open at one end, or can have two drum heads, one head on each end.
Single-headed drums consist of a skin stretched over an enclosed space, or over one of the ends of a hollow vessel. Drums with two heads covering both ends of a cylindrical shell have a small hole somewhat halfway between the two heads. Exceptions include the African slit drum known as a log drum as it is made from a hollowed-out tree trunk, the Caribbean steel drum, made from a metal barrel. Drums with two heads can have a set of wires, called snares, held across the bottom head, top head, or both heads, hence the name snare drum. On some drums with two heads, a hole or bass reflex port may be cut or installed onto one head, as with some 2010s era bass drums in rock music. On modern band and orchestral drums, the drumhead is placed over the opening of the drum, which in turn is held onto the shell by a "counterhoop", held by means of a number of tuning screws called "tension rods" that screw into lugs placed evenly around the circumference; the head's tension can be adjusted by tightening the rods.
Many such drums have six to ten tension rods. The sound of a drum depends on many variables—including shape, shell size and thickness, shell materials, counterhoop material, drumhead material, drumhead tension, drum position and striking velocity and angle. Prior to the invention of tension rods, drum skins were attached and tuned by rope systems—as on the Djembe—or pegs and ropes such as on Ewe drums; these methods are used today, though sometimes appear on regimental marching band snare drums. The head of a talking drum, for example, can be temporarily tightened by squeezing the ropes that connect the top and bottom heads; the tabla is tuned by hammering a disc held in place around the drum by ropes stretching from the top to bottom head. Orchestral timpani can be tuned to precise pitches by using a foot pedal. Several factors determine the sound a drum produces, including the type and construction of the drum shell, the type of drum heads it has, the tension of these drumheads. Different drum sounds have different uses in music.
For example, the modern Tom-tom drum. A jazz drummer may want drums that are high pitched and quiet whereas a rock drummer may prefer drums that are loud and low-pitched; the drum head has the most effect on. Each type of drum head has its own unique sound. Double-ply drumheads dampen high frequency harmonics because they are heavier and they are suited to heavy playing. Drum heads with a white, textured coating on them muffle the overtones of the drum head producing a less diverse pitch. Drum heads with central silver or black dots tend to muffle the overtones more, while drum heads with perimeter sound rings eliminate overtones; some jazz drummers avoid using thick drum heads, preferring single ply drum heads or drum heads with no muffling. Rock drummers prefer the thicker or coated drum heads; the second biggest factor that affects drum sound is head tension against the shell. When the hoop is placed around the drum head and shell and tightened down with tension rods, the tension of the head can be adjusted.
When the tension is increased, the amplitude of the sound is reduced and the frequency is increased, making the pitch higher and the volume lower. The type of shell affects the sound of a drum; because the vibrati
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam; the month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon, according to numerous biographical accounts compiled in the hadiths. The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ, which means scorching heat or dryness. Fasting is fard for adult Muslims, except those who are suffering from an illness, are elderly, breastfeeding, chronically ill or menstruating. Fasting the month of Ramadan was made obligatory during the month of Sha'ban, in the second year after the Muslims migrated from Mecca to Medina. Fatwas have been issued declaring that Muslims who live in regions with a natural phenomenon such as the midnight sun or polar night should follow the timetable of Mecca, but the more accepted opinion is that Muslims in those areas should follow the timetable of the closest country to them in which night can be distinguished from day.
While fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids and engaging in sexual relations. Muslims are instructed to refrain from sinful behavior that may negate the reward of fasting, such as false speech and fighting except in self-defense. Pre-fast meals before dawn are referred to as Suhoor, while the post-fast breaking feasts after sunset are called Iftar. Spiritual rewards for fasting are believed to be multiplied within the month of Ramadan. Fasting for Muslims during Ramadan includes the increased offering of salat, recitation of the Quran and an increase of doing good deeds and charity. Chapter 2, Verse 185, of the Quran states: The month of Ramadan is that in, revealed the Quran, and whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease, it is believed that the Quran was first revealed to Muhammad during the month of Ramadan, referred to as the "best of times".
The first revelation was sent down on Laylat al-Qadr, one of the five odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. According to hadith, all holy scriptures were sent down during Ramadan, it is further believed that the tablets of Ibrahim, the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospel and the Quran were sent down on 1st, 6th, 12th, 13th and 24th Ramadan, respectively. According to the Quran, fasting was obligatory for prior nations, is a way to attain taqwa, fear of God. God proclaimed to Muhammad that fasting for His sake was not a new innovation in monotheism, but rather an obligation practiced by those devoted to the oneness of God; the pagans of Mecca fasted, but only on tenth day of Muharram to expiate sins and avoid droughts. The ruling to observe fasting during Ramadan was sent down 18 months after Hijra, during the month of Sha'ban in the second year of Hijra in 624 CE. Abu Zanad, an Arabic writer from Iraq who lived after the founding of Islam, in around 747 CE, wrote that at least one Mandaean community located in al-Jazira observed Ramadan before converting to Islam.
According to historian Philip Jenkins, Ramadan comes "from the strict Lenten discipline of the Syrian Churches", a postulation corroborated by other scholars, such as the theologian Paul-Gordon Chandler. This suggestion is based on the idea that the Quran itself has Syriac Christian origins, a claim to which some Muslim academics such as M. Al-Azami, object. With professional athletes sharing their experiences of fasting during this religious period, Ramadan is more in the public eye than before - and while tradition and religion remain at the forefront and more Muslims are finding ways to fit their lifestyle around their faith; the beginning and end of Ramadan are determined by the lunar Islamic calendar. Hilāl is a day after the astronomical new moon. Since the new moon marks the beginning of the new month, Muslims can safely estimate the beginning of Ramadan. However, to many Muslims, this is not in accordance with authenticated Hadiths stating that visual confirmation per region is recommended.
The consistent variations of a day have existed since the time of Muhammad. The Arabic Laylat al-Qadr, translated to English is "the night of power" or "the night of decree", is considered the holiest night of the year; this is the night in which Muslims believe the first revelation of the Quran was sent down to Muhammad stating that this night was "better than one thousand months ", as stated in Chapter 97:3 of the Qu'ran. Laylat al-Qadr is believed to have occurred on an odd-numbered night during the last ten days of Ramadan, i.e. the night of the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th. The Dawoodi Bohra Community believe; the holiday of Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the next lunar month, Shawwal. This first day of the following month is declared after another crescent new moon has been sighted or the completion of 30 days of fasting if no visual sighting is possible due to weather conditi
A Batá drum is a double-headed drum shaped like an hourglass with one end larger than the other. The percussion instrument is used for the use of religious or semi-religious purposes for the native culture from the land of Yoruba, located in Nigeria, as well as by worshippers of Santería in Cuba, Puerto Rico, in the United States; the Batá drum's popular functions are entertainment. Its early function was as a drum of different gods, drum of royalty, drum of ancestors and drum of politicians. Batá drum impacted on all spheres of life. Several different types of drums have existed throughout the world. Natives from cultures which the drums originate, as in the case of the Yorùbá, used the drums for religious ceremonies and, since their introduction in Cuba in the 1820s, have come to be an understood and important part of the perceived culture of the southwestern Nigerian people; the drum dates back 500 years, is believed to have been introduced by a Yoruba king named Shangó el rey del tambor. Despite the previous long history, awareness of the instrument didn't spread until the 1800s slave-trade in which close to 300,000 Africans were brought to Cuba.
The religion and beliefs the Yorùbá brought with them became the basis for what is known as Lukumí. This religion spawned the creation of the first "sacred" Batá in Cuba around 1830 by a Yorùbá named Añabi; the Batá became inducted into the Cuban culture after a time, began to take on more secular uses: they were first publicly performed in 1935 in a broadcast over Cuban radio for purposes of folklore music. Uses such as this have grown; these "non-sacred" Batá drums are called aberínkula—profane Batá. Batá drums and rhythms have started to be used in other genres, most notably in Cuban timba and hip hop. In the 1970s, for instance, a mixture of Batá drums and Big Band called Son-Batá or Batá Rock became popular, a genre influenced by Irakere. Skilled secular musicians made appearances in the United States throughout the twentieth century; the Lukumí religion and Batá drums are associated. The drums are played to create polyrhythmic compositions, or "toques" during santería ceremonies. A ceremony with batá drums is known as a "toque," "tambor de santo," or "bembé," but ceremonies can be accompanied by shaken gourd-rattle "chékere" ensembles.
There are estimated to be at least 140 different toques for the spirits and their different manifestations. There are two important "rhythm suites"; the first is called "Oru del Igbodu", alternatively called "Oru Seco", played at the beginning of a "tambor de santo" that includes 23 standard rhythms for all the orishas. The selections of the second suite include within them the vocal part to be performed by a vocalist/chanter who engages those attending the ceremony in a call-and-response style musical experience in which a ritual is acted out wherein an "initiate" plays the new Batá set, thereafter is introduced to the old Batá set; this is Añá of the drums from the old set into the new set. Certain long-standing rules and rituals govern the construction, handling and care of the sacred batá: traditionally only non-castrated male deer or goat hide was used—female goats along with bulls and sheep were considered unsuitable. Before a ceremony, the drummers would wash themselves in omiero, a cleansing water and for some time abstain from sex.
Traditionally in Cuba, in Havana the batá are played after sundown, while in Matanzas toque ceremonies begin at night. This apparent contradiction is not the only one reaching both adherents of Lukumí and others interested in African music and culture; the Cuban style of playing the drums is similar, but in some musical contexts different rhythms may be used. In the last few decades, the popularity of the batá drums has increased worldwide so that they have begun to be produced in greater numbers both by large western drum companies and individual artisans in Africa using a variety of "non-traditional" materials including fiberglass drums, some instrument builders preferring cow skins or synthetic membranes, while some traditionalists may express disdain for this trend and insist upon strict orthodoxy; these conflicting points of view remain paradoxical within the musical "landscape", as has been the global evolution of the Indian Tabla, both families of percussion instruments finding application in surprisingly diverse musical settings far from their roots, although batá having a closer religious affinity with Lukumí than tabla with Hinduism.
Those who practise Lukumí believe that certain