Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Video Examples Of Jamaican Nyabinghi Drumming

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases five video examples of Jamaican Rastafarian Nyabinghi (Niyabinghi) drumming. This post also includes general information about Nyabinghi culture and "Grounation Day".

The content of this post is presented for historical, folkloric, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Niyabinghi are considered the strictest mansion of the Rastafari movement in Jamaica, preaching the ideals of a global theocracy to be headed by Emperor Haile Selassie I, whom they proclaim to be the promised Messiah and incarnation of Jah, the Supreme.

They have also been known to be very anti-racist, especially toward black and white people. They also express that opressors towards anybody will be punished by Jah. People of the Nyabinghi faith often (but not always) affiliate themselves with pacifism…
The Niyabinghi resistance inspired a number of Jamaican Rastafarians, who incorporated what are known as niyabinghi chants (also binghi) into their celebrations ("groundations"). The rhythms of these chants were eventually an influence of popular ska, rocksteady and reggae music...

Niyabinghi drumming is not exclusive to the Niyabinghi order, and is common to all Rastafarians. Its rhythms are the basis of Reggae music, through the influential ska band, the Skatalites. It is said that their drummer revolutionized Jamaican music by combining the various Niyabinghi parts into a 'complete' "drum kit," which combined with jazz to create an entirely new form of music, known as ska. Niyabinghi rhythms were largely a creation of Count Ossie, who incorporated influences from traditional Jamaican Kumina drumming (especially the form of the drums themselves) with songs and rhythms learned from the recordings of Nigerian musician Babatunde Olatunji...
Nyabinghi drums are membranophones played at a groundation ceremony in rasta culture. Nyabinghi music is played in 4/4 time on three drums:
Thunder: It is a double-headed bass drum, played with a mallet. The strokes are an open tone on 1 and a dampened stroke on 3. Occasionally, the thunder player will syncopate the rhythm.

Funde: The funde is the middle drum. It maintains the dominant heartbeat rhythm as the funde player makes steady, dampened strokes on 1 and 3.

Repeater: The repeater or keteh, is the smallest and highest pitched drum. The drummer tends to play around 2 and 4, with a syncopated feel. It is seen as the carrier of spirit and fire of the music..

(These examples are posted in no particular order.)

Example #1: Rastafari Nyabinghi Grounation & CELEBRATION JAMAICA 1994 or 1995

Marleyites, Uploaded on Sep 18, 2009

"Totally "IRIE" vibration. Rastafari sing, dance & give thanks and praises to the Most High. H.I.M. Haile Selassie I the Firs'. King of Kings. Conquering Lion of Ethiopia, 225th in an unbroken line of Kings from Soloman & Sheba. Leader for peace & livity of all the people.

Born Ras Tafari - which means "Prince" Tafari, HIM took the name "Haile Selassie" upon coronation, meaning Power of the Trinity. Yes-I, alot of power from His Majesty. Look at all the inspiration he inspires. Irie! Jah bless one & all.

Bob Marley says that there is only one truth and that truth is the truth of Rastafari. Who feels it knows it."
Click for information about the meaning of the word "grounation".
Here's an excerpt from that page:
"Grounation Day" (April 21) is an important Rastafarian holy day, and second after Coronation Day (November 2). It is celebrated in honor of Haile Selassie's 1966 visit to Jamaica...

When Haile Selassie's Ethiopian Airlines flight landed at the airport at 1:30 PM, the crowd surrounded his plane on the tarmac...

After about half an hour, the door swung open and the emperor appeared at the top of the mobile steps. A deafening tumult was heard from the crowd, who beat calabash drums, lit firecrackers, waved signs, and sounded Abeng horns of the Maroons.....Selassie waved from the top of the steps.... He then returned into the plane, disappearing for several more minutes. Finally Jamaican authorities were obliged to request Ras Mortimer Planno, a well-known Rasta leader, to climb the steps, enter the plane, and negotiate the Emperor's descent... When Planno reemerged, he announced to the crowd: "The Emperor has instructed me to tell you to be calm. Step back and let the Emperor land". After Planno escorted the African monarch down the steps, journalists were puzzled by Selassie's refusal to walk on the red carpet [hence "grounation", dialectal equivalent of "grounding" in the sense of "making contact with the soil"] on the way to his limousine."

Example #2: House of Judah Nyabinghi Rastafarian Grounation

Uploaded on Jul 10, 2009

House of Judah Nyabinghi Rastafarian Grounation in Knysna South Africa

Example #3: Rasta Medley - Nyabinghi Drumming JAFSP 2011

JAFSProject, Uploaded on Apr 30, 2011

Suga and friends performing a medley of traditional Rastafarian songs. FIlmed in St. Elizabeth Jamaica during the March trip of the Jamaica Field Service Project. The JAFSP is a study abroad program which brings university students to volunteer in Jamaica for college credit. To learn more about this service learning abroad program go to

Example #4: Luciano - No Night In Zion (Ras Tafari Nyabingi Prayer)

RootsDaughter41926, Uploaded on Jul 23, 2009

In rememberance and celebration of the earthday of H.I.M Emperor Haile Selassie I - 23rd July 1892.

'No Night In Zion' is one of the earliest and most well-known Ras Tafari Nyabingi prayers/hymns.

Example #5: Nyabinghi drumming with Sizzla at Bob Marley Museum 2012

Jamaicans Music, Uploaded on Feb 6, 2012

Today Sizzla was beating the drums in celebration for Bob Marley's birthday.
I added this video on February 10, 2016 to replace the previous one which is no longer available.]

Here are two comments from this video's discussion thread:
alphaacad1, 2013
"Anyone knows the words??? I'm loving this"

Reply ·
Eric Lamar , 2014
"What a woe inna Babylon What a woe
JAH have the Lightning and Thunder
JAH have the Brimstone and Fire
JAH have the Earthquake Hot Lava
What a woe"

Thanks to all those who composed and performed this music.
Thanks also to the producers and uploaders of these videos.

Finally, thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

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