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Baka dancer


The Baka believe that when disaster strikes, the rainforest has gone to sleep. They use music to wake the forest back up. Baka music relies heavily on a capella singing, with improvised string instruments and "water drums." The sound of the water drum is created by slapping water in a stream or pond with the hands. Though their neighbors sometimes call the Baka loud, they have developed their sounds as a way to communicate amidst thick vegetation. The Mbuti, a rainforest people from Congo, share this trait. Like many rainforest people, both the Baka and the Mbuti have songs for almost every occasion, from a pre-hunt cry to welcome melodies for village visitors.

Water Drums (Baka)
Rivers running through the rainforest are one of the Bakas' favorite instruments. Standing in the water up to their waists, they beat the river's surface with cupped hands. Often, several women will play the water drums together. Each woman plays a different rhythm, which, together, make up a melody.
Listen to the song. Music credit: Baka Beyond, http://www.baka.co.uk/bakab/index.html

Yelli (Baka)
This is a pre-hunt song performed by women in the dawn hours to enchant the rainforest and attract animals for a successful hunt. The melody echoes the chirping of forest insects.
Listen to the song. Music credit: Baka Beyond, http://www.baka.co.uk/bakab/index.html

Limbindi (Baka)
Only Baka women play the limbindi, a sort of rainforest violin. A strong, thin vine is used as the instrument's string. A flexible tree branch is used as the bow. To change the pitch of the notes, the limbindi player slides her chin up and down the string.
Listen to the song. Music credit: Baka Beyond, http://www.baka.co.uk/bakab/index.html

Hunting Song (Mbuti)
The Mbuti use these cries when hunting the iddi, a small forest antelope, to drive it into hunting nets. The Mbuti are a rainforest people who live in the Ituri Forest of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo,
Listen to the song. Music credit: Baka Beyond, http://www.baka.co.uk/bakab/index.html

Abale (Baka)
The singing style of Abale is similar to that of Yelli, but everyone, not just initiated women, participates. Men and boys play cooking pots as well as drums, while the women's powerful voices communicate directly with forest spirits. This song is used both to welcome guests and to show off the Bakasi renowned musical skill.
Listen to the song. Music credit: Baka Beyond, http://www.baka.co.uk/bakab/index.html

Photo Credits:
Mauro Campagnoli, www.maurocampagnoli.com
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