Water Drumming

Water Drumming ambience: Mangbetu water drummingCelebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here’s a program from our archives.When the Mangbetu people of northeastern Zaire play music, they might use of elaborately carved and decorated instruments — or they might take advantage of what ever is at hand. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Miller: What we’re hearing is a group of women and young girls playing the water in the river with their arms and elbows. Tom Miller is with the American Museum of Natural History’s Department of Anthropology.Miller: This technique of water drumming is very developed so that they actually play melodies and create different sounds out of the water. The reason they do this is that in this part of central Africa, musical instruments are the prerogative of males, and while women may sing and dance the same songs as men, they are not permitted to play instruments. One of the ways that women have circumvented this prohibition is to use the river and their own bodies as musical instruments.People in this region have many inventive ways of adapting their environment to their particular uses, and using the river as a drum is an example of this. The women are standing in the water and when they push their arm or hand down into it, they displace the water, which gives that characteristic sound.This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Water Drumming

If your society forbids you to use musical instruments, play the river! This archival program is part of Pulse of the Planet's 30th anniversary celebration.
Air Date:07/04/2018
Scientist:
Transcript:

Water Drumming ambience: Mangbetu water drummingCelebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here's a program from our archives.When the Mangbetu people of northeastern Zaire play music, they might use of elaborately carved and decorated instruments -- or they might take advantage of what ever is at hand. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Miller: What we're hearing is a group of women and young girls playing the water in the river with their arms and elbows. Tom Miller is with the American Museum of Natural History's Department of Anthropology.Miller: This technique of water drumming is very developed so that they actually play melodies and create different sounds out of the water. The reason they do this is that in this part of central Africa, musical instruments are the prerogative of males, and while women may sing and dance the same songs as men, they are not permitted to play instruments. One of the ways that women have circumvented this prohibition is to use the river and their own bodies as musical instruments.People in this region have many inventive ways of adapting their environment to their particular uses, and using the river as a drum is an example of this. The women are standing in the water and when they push their arm or hand down into it, they displace the water, which gives that characteristic sound.This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.