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National Drummers of Burundi(Burundi)

The all-conquering rhythms of The Drummers of Burundi have been cited as inspirational to many celebrated musicians and bands including The Clash, Echo &The Bunnymen, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez & Malcolm McLaren. Yet, these master drummers, from the tiny country of Burundi almost at the very heart of Africa, rarely travel abroad or tour and the making and playing of these drums remains a privilege that can only be handed down from father to son.

In ancient Burundi the drums were far more than musical instruments. They were sacred objects reserved for ceremonial use, and were only used in exceptional circumstances and always according to specific rituals.
Their beat proclaimed the major events of the country – enthronements and funerals of rulers, for example – as well as celebrating the regular cycle of the seasons. The drums would signal the beginning of the agricultural year and the sowing of the Soughum seeds that go to make Soughum beer.

Live in concert the Drummers of Burundi are a spectacle of music and dance. Full of energy, grace and pure athleticism, the 12-strong troupe, traditionally dressed in colorful robes, hammer out compelling rhythms and complex syncopations whilst leaping, dancing, singing, or even fighting imaginary foes over their drums.

The drums have lost none of their revered significance over the centuries. An ancient network of drum sanctuaries still exists in Burundi where the drums have been stored over the years until such time as they are brought out to be played. These sanctuaries are in places of importance, such as royal residences ruled over by a queen, sacred groves, or in forests marking the tombs of kings or princes. In the sanctuaries the main drum (the Inkiranya) is laid on a trestle of branches and surrounded, as though a king, by subsidiary drums (the Ingendanyi).

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