THE BAYAKA – A Moment in Sound

There are some moments in life which are truly magical. They can never be recreated or recaptured, but a recording of that moment can sometimes give a feeling of what it was like. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History. This year we’re celebrating ten years of broadcasts and 2,000 programs.

ambience: Bayaka women singing in the forest

Imagine yourself in the rainforest of central Africa. It’s the home of the Bayaka people. Early in the morning, the Bayaka women head away from their camp into the depths of the forest.

“As soon as they enter the forest for a day of gathering, they start to sing like this.”

For the past ten years, ethnomusicologist Louis Sarno has lived among the Bayaka.

“In this recording you hear the women off in a large primary forest gathering cocoa, which is an edible leaf of a vine. It’s the only leafy, green vegetable in fact that the Bayaka gather from the forest. And this is the typical sound of the women in the forest. They are often singing like this. This is a very common sound to hear.”

“They definitely are aware of the acoustic properties of the forest, and they use those properties. That’s why whenever they go into the forest, they start to sing.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for the series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

THE BAYAKA - A Moment in Sound

The voices of women from the Bayaka tribe create cathedral-like acoustics in a rainforest in central Africa.
Air Date:11/29/1999
Scientist:
Transcript:

There are some moments in life which are truly magical. They can never be recreated or recaptured, but a recording of that moment can sometimes give a feeling of what it was like. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History. This year we're celebrating ten years of broadcasts and 2,000 programs.

ambience: Bayaka women singing in the forest

Imagine yourself in the rainforest of central Africa. It's the home of the Bayaka people. Early in the morning, the Bayaka women head away from their camp into the depths of the forest.

"As soon as they enter the forest for a day of gathering, they start to sing like this."

For the past ten years, ethnomusicologist Louis Sarno has lived among the Bayaka.

"In this recording you hear the women off in a large primary forest gathering cocoa, which is an edible leaf of a vine. It's the only leafy, green vegetable in fact that the Bayaka gather from the forest. And this is the typical sound of the women in the forest. They are often singing like this. This is a very common sound to hear."

"They definitely are aware of the acoustic properties of the forest, and they use those properties. That's why whenever they go into the forest, they start to sing."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. Additional funding for the series has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.