Tuesday, November 11, 2014

(Letter B) Videos of Traditional Music Instruments

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is the second of a series on seven posts on traditional music instruments throughout the world. This post features one or two videos of and information about various traditional instruments whose names begins with the letter "B".

In the context of this series, with a few exceptions such as pan ("steel drums"), and vuvuzelas, my definition of "traditional music instruments" are those instruments that were created prior to 20th century and which are largely unfamiliar to people in the general public (including me).

To access other posts in this series, click the "traditional music instruments" tag below.

My thanks to the musicians and vocalists featured on these videos and to all the publishers of these videos.

This series does not purport to include examples of all "traditional music instruments" worldwide.

Also, I'm not an expert on the subject of traditional music instruments.

Bimli (Australian clap sticks)

These featured instruments are presented in alphabetical order, with their geographical places of origin given in brackets.

Other featured traditional musical instruments may be shown in the video for the instrument that is showcased in this post. Some viewer comments may be included along with quoted information about the showcased instrument.

BAGPIPES [Scotland]


1runrig, Uploaded on Oct 4, 2011

Pipebands on The Isle of Skye!

"Bagpipes are a class of musical instrument, aerophones, using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. Though the Scottish and Irish Great Highland bagpipe (known in Ireland as the War pipes) and Irish Uilleann Pipes have the greatest international visibility, bagpipes have been played for centuries throughout large parts of Europe, the Caucasus, around the Persian Gulf and in Northern Africa."

BALAFON [West Africa

Orodara Sidiki [Burkina Faso]

fabien ben, March 25, 2009

orodara sidiki joué pour un mariage à bobo dioulasso par seydou dembélé et une des team de bolomakoté


Video Description: A roadside musical performance in Burkina Faso.
Information about Balafon
"The Balafon (Balafong, Balaphone) is a kind of wooden xylophone or percussion idiophone which plays melodic tunes and usually has between 16 to 27 keys which has been played in the region since the 1300s and originated in Mali according to the Manding history narrated by the griots.

They call it "a gift from the devil" to the Kuyateh families. This was the period under the Manding Empire's founder Sunjata Keita and his Sosso rival Soumaoro Kante who was said to have been given by Balafon by spirits. The instrument as well as the Karanyango (bell) was incorporated into the musical ensemble of the griots to accompany the Kora."...

BANJO [United States / African Americans]

Carolina Chocolate Drops performing "Cornbread and Butterbeans"

knoxnews | May 12, 2008

Some information about the early history of the Banjo
"If the fiddle was the primary contribution to American music from northern Europe, the banjo was the primary contribution from Africa. The banjo has been called "the outstanding American contribution to the music of folklore," and can be traced back in some form to sub-Saharan cultures of the 13th century. It was almost certainly brought to the New World by slaves, and as early as 1781 Thomas Jefferson, writing about slaves on his own plantation, said, "the instrument proper to them is the Banjar, which they brought hither from Africa." Many of these early "banjars" were made from gourds and played with a fretless neck. We have no idea how these sounded, but surviving illustrations suggest they used heavy strings and probably had a deep, mellow sound. By 1847 we have eyewitness accounts of the fiddle and banjo being played together in the South - the origin of the modern string band or bluegrass band.

This early black folk tradition eventually transferred the banjo to whites, especially in the Appalachians. Here, musicians made banjo heads out of groundhog skins and adapted their songs to the instrument's harmonics. A parallel tradition began to develop in the 1840's, with the popularity of minstrel shows, in which professional entertainers performed songs and dances derived from what they interpreted to be black culture. The banjo became the central instrument of these "plantation melodies" and songs like "Old Dan Tucker" entered the pantheon of vernacular music"...

BATA [Nigeria, Cuba]

Yoruba Bata: A Living Drum and Dance Tradition from Nigeria

debraklein | August 29, 2007

Introduction to Yoruba Bata Performance as practiced in Erin-Osun, Nigeria. Featuring Lamidi Ayankunle, master Bata drummer from Erin-Osun.

La Fuerza del Tambor (The Power of the Drum) (Cuba)

Posted by tinamatanzas /June 06, 2007

"The Power of the Drum" offers 8 examples of live drumming ceremonies in the home of Alfredo Calvo (Matanzas, Cuba) featuring bata, güiro, and the Bembe Macagua drums. The DVD also includes interviews and drumming demonstrations. 90 minutes, all regions.

Information about Batá drums
"A Batá drum is a double-headed drum shaped like an hourglass with one cone larger than the other. The percussion instrument is used primarily 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, and in the United States. The Batá drum's popular functions are entertainment and to convey messages. 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."

BEGENA [Ethiopa]

Zerfu Demissie (Ethiopia)

terprecords | July 23, 2007 Begena Music + singing from Ethiopia
Traditional 10-string harp, the harp of King David
Very old religious music played during Lent.

Here are several viewers' comments about this instrument:
"This sounds the same as the Sumerian lyre. There are some videos here on YouTube where the reconstructed Sumerian lyre is being played. The two instruments look different but they sound the same. In Ethiopia, they just never stopped playing it."

"I am increasingly fascinated by the similarilty between the Begena, and the replica ancient Jewish Kinnor Lyre which I play!Does anyone out there know if is there also a TENOR version of the begena, which would be more similar in pitch to the ancient Jewish Kinnor; the orginal "Harp of David"?"

"But Kirar and Begena are complitily diffrent when you play kirar you get exiteing music but when you play begen the sound is very depressing .that is why it is used mainly on the fasting season of HUDADE which lasts for two months and ends on Easter day ,the music they play with begena is always about the suffering of Christ."

Information about Begena
"The begena (or bèguèna, as in French) is an Eritrean and Ethiopian string instrument with ten strings belonging to the family of the lyre. According to oral tradition, Menelik I brought the instrument to the region from Israel, where David played on it to soothe King Saul's nerves and heal him of insomnia. Its actual origin remains in doubt, though local manuscripts depict the instrument at the beginning of the 15th century (Kimberlin 1978: 13)."


Berimbau Solo Instrutor Bae 2

baeoficina | September 13, 2007

Instrutor Bae breaking on the berimbau at Grupo Internacional Oficina da Capoeira's 2nd "Festival Axe e Felicidade" in Bogota Columbia

Information about Berimbaus
From "Berimbau" By N. Scott Robinson and Richard P. Graham
"The Brazilian berimbau de barriga, or simply berimbau, is a gourd-resonated, braced musical bow of African origin...

The berimbau originated in an early nineteenth-century Brazilian slave culture. Several historical notices and depictions from this period demonstrate the continued presence of a variety of central African musical bows (Koster 1816, 122; Graham 1824, 199; Walsh 1830, 175-176; Debret 1834, 39; Wetherell 1860, 106-107). Popular among African-Brazilian vendors and street musicians, these musical bows were known by African names such as urucungu, madimba lungungo, mbulumbumba, and hungu (Shaffer 1976, 14; Kubik 1979, 30). As a result of pan-African technology-sharing, organological traits of these various musical bows were fused to create a single African-Brazilian instrument (Graham 1991, 6).

Sometime in the late nineteenth century, this new musical bow received a Lusophone name—berimbau de barriga, or "jaw harp of the stomach"—and entered a new cultural context, the African-Brazilian martial art form known as capoeira (Kubik 1979, 30-33). Beginning at least as early as the eighteenth century, capoeira was fought to the music of an African-derived hand drum or to simple handclapping. Capoeira is now fought to the toques (rhythms) of the berimbau, which accompany the songs known in Brazil as cantigas de capoeira.

The musical ensemble employed in contemporary capoeira features one to three berimbaus, an atabaque (conical hand drum), a pandeiro (tambourine) and an agogô (double bell). Where multiple berimbaus are employed in an ensemble, they are often tuned to separate pitches. In Salvador de Bahia, the cultural epicenter of capoeira, different names are used for berimbaus of various sizes, including viola (small), medio (medium) and gunga (large) (Lewis 1992, 137). From the 1940s, a number of capoeira schools in Bahia began to paint their berimbaus with colorful stripes and other decorations, reflecting their pride in their individual academias (traditional capoeira schools) (Shaffer 1976, 26)."...

BIMLI [Australian clap sticks]

Australia Didjeridu and Clap Sticks

Tiffany Nicely, Published on Oct 14, 2012

Dance during Aboriginal Initiation Ceremony, northern Australia (1)

Ludo Kuipers, Uploaded on Apr 18, 2010

A boy, painted up for his "Djapi" initiation ceremony sits between men who sing, play clapsticks and didjeridu while young men and women dance on the sandy ground in Numbulwar, in eastern Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.

Information on Australian clap sticks:
"Clapsticks or clappers are a type of drumstick, percussion mallet or claves that are used to serve the purpose of maintaining rhythm with Aboriginal voice chants. Unlike drumsticks, which are generally used to strike a drum, clapsticks are intended for striking one stick on another.

As an ancestral instrument that may traditionally accompany the didgeridoo, it is sometimes referred to as musicstick or just Stick. In the language of the Yolngu Aborigines of Northeast Arnhem Land, Australia these clapsticks are called bimli."

BODHRAN [Ireland]

Bodhran Demonstration

exit8babe | February 21, 2007

The bodhran is the traditional Celtic frame drum. The cross braces and laminated rosewood strengthen the shell of this goatskin-covered drum. With a rich deep sound, these drums are great fun even if you have not mastered the traditional playing.

Here's information about the history of Bodhrans
"The bodhrán is one of the most basic of drums and as such it is similar to the frame drums distributed widely across northern Africa from the Middle East, and has cognates in instruments used for Arabic music and the musical traditions of the Mediterranean region (see Music of North Africa, Music of Greece etc.). A larger form is found in the Iranian daff, which is played with the fingers in an upright position, without a stick. Traditional skin drums made by some Native Americans are very close in design to the bodhrán as well.[8]

Bottom view of a bodhrán-like frame drum made in the 1960s or earlier; note scarf-joined frame.
It has also been suggested that the origin of the instrument may be the skin trays used in Ireland for carrying peat; the earliest bodhrán may have simply been a skin stretched across a wood frame without any means of attachment.[8] The Cornish frame drum crowdy-crawn, which was also used for harvesting grain, was known as early as 1880"...

BOMBA[Puerto Rico]

Bomba in Loiza, Puerto Rico #1

gyenyamesankofa | August 09, 2008

This is one of several videos that I will be posting from my trip to Puerto Rico in July 2008.

This clip features Bomba drummers and dancers at Raul Ayala's house in Loiza, during La Fiesta de Santiago Apostol.


"Bomba is one of the folk musical styles of Puerto Rico. it is a largely African-derived music. The rhythm and beat are played by a set of hand drums and a maraca. Dance is an integral part of the music...Bomba is described to be a challenge between the drummer and the dancer. The dancer produces a series of gestures to which the primo drummer provides a synchronized beat. Thus, it is the drummer who attempts to follow the dancer and not the other way around...

The traditional drums used in bomba are called barriles, since they have long been built from the wood of barrels. The high pitch drum is called "subidor" or "primo", and the low pitch drums are called "buleador" and "segundo"."

BONES [world wide]

How to Play Bones with Dom Flemons

Uploaded by musicmakerfoundation on Sep 5, 2010

Dom Flemons of the Carolina Chocolate Drops shows us how to play the bones!


Armando Peraza solos on congas and bongos

martincongahead | January 29, 2007

Legendary Cuban percussionist, Armando Peraza performs solos on congas and bongos.


Ithikon Akmeotaton- Pente Ellines ston Adi (live)

ithikonakmeotaton | October 22, 2006

Acoustic Session. Recorded 16.10.2006 live at at Octalogic Studio (GER)


Here's a viewer's comment from that video's thread:
...."This is Greek tradition and heritage to the entire world. You must be Greek to understand the depth of this song.
This is a Bacchic Zeus dance for life. Zeimpekikos.
Bravo an excellent performance of Giannis Papaioannou's original song."

"The bouzouki... (plural sometimes transliterated as bouzoukia) is the mainstay of modern Greek music. It is a stringed instrument with a pear-shaped body and a very long neck. The bouzouki is a member of the 'long neck lute' family and is similar to a mandolin. The front of the body is flat and is usually heavily inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The instrument is played with a plectrum and has a sharp metallic sound."...

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Cocojams2 showcases examples of English language playground rhymes, cheers, and singing games, with special emphasis given to African American examples.

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