Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Drum (communication)

Drum (communication)

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Drum (communication)'
Start a new discussion about 'Drum (communication)'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Developed from hollow tree trunks, and used by culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

s living in deforest
DeForest
DeForest, also spelled De Forest and deForest, may refer to:*Calvert DeForest , a United States actor and comedian, best known for his appearances on David Letterman's shows...

ed areas, drums served as an early form of long distance communication
Communication
Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast...

, and were used during ceremonial
Ceremony
A ceremony is an event of ritual significance, performed on a special occasion. The word may be of Etruscan origin.-Ceremonial occasions:A ceremony may mark a rite of passage in a human life, marking the significance of, for example:* birth...

 and religious functions.

Pressure drum


While this type of instrument can be modulate
Modulate
Modulate is Bob Mould's fifth solo album, released in 2002. Although a few tracks on his previous release, The Last Dog and Pony Show, had featured tape loops and samples, Mould shocked his fans with such a dramatic embrace of electronica...

d quite closely, its range is limited to a gathering or market-place, and it is primarily used in ceremonial settings. Ceremonial functions could include dance, rituals, story-telling and communication of points of order.

Some of the groups of variations of the talking drum among West African ethnic groups:
  • Tama (Wolof
    Wolof people
    The Wolof are an ethnic group found in Senegal, The Gambia, and Mauritania.In Senegal, the Wolof form an ethnic plurality with about 43.3% of the population are Wolofs...

     of Senegal
    Senegal
    Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...

    )
  • Gan gan, Dun Dun (Yoruba
    Yoruba people
    The Yoruba people are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. The majority of the Yoruba speak the Yoruba language...

     of Nigeria
    Nigeria
    Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

    )
  • Dondo (Ashanti of central Ghana)
  • Lunna (Dagomba
    Dagomba
    The Dagomba are an ethnic group of Northern Ghana. They inhabit the sparse savanna region below the sahelian belt, known as the Sudan. They speak the Dagbani language which belongs to the More-Dagbani sub-group of Gur languages...

     of northern Ghana
    Ghana
    Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

    )
  • Kalangu (Hausa
    Hausa people
    The Hausa are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. They are a Sahelian people chiefly located in northern Nigeria and southeastern Niger, but having significant numbers living in regions of Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Chad and Sudan...

     of northern Nigeria
    Nigeria
    Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

     and Niger
    Niger
    Niger , officially named the Republic of Niger, is a landlocked country in Western Africa, named after the Niger River. It borders Nigeria and Benin to the south, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, Algeria and Libya to the north and Chad to the east...

    )


In the 20th century the talking drums have become a part of popular music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

 in West Africa, especially in the music genres of Jùjú
Jùjú music
Jùjú is a style of Nigerian popular music, derived from traditional Yoruba percussion. The name comes from a Yoruba word "juju" or "jiju" meaning "throwing" or "something being thrown." Juju music did not derive its name from juju, which "is a form of magic and the use of magic objects or...

 (Nigeria) and Mbalax
Mbalax
Mbalax is the national popular dance music of Senegal and The Gambia. Mbalax is a fusion of popular Western music and dance such as jazz, soul, Latin, and rock blended with sabar, the traditional drumming and dance music of Senegal...

 (Senegal).

Slit gongs


Message drums, or more properly slit gongs, with hollow chambers and long narrow openings that resonate
Resonance
In physics, resonance is the tendency of a system to oscillate at a greater amplitude at some frequencies than at others. These are known as the system's resonant frequencies...

 when struck, are larger all-wood instruments hollowed out from a single log. Variations in the thickness of the walls would vary the tones when struck by heavy wooden drum sticks. While some were simple utilitarian pieces they could also be highly elaborate works of sculpture while still retaining their function. Often there are small stands under each end of the drum to keep it off of the ground and let it vibrate more freely.

These drums were made out of hollowed logs. The bigger the log, the louder sound
Sound
Sound is a mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies within the range of hearing and of a level sufficiently strong to be heard, or the sensation stimulated in organs of hearing by such vibrations.-Propagation of...

 would be made and thus the farther it could be heard. A long slit would be cut in one side of the tree trunk. Next, the log would be hollowed out through the slit, leaving lips (wooden ledges) on each side of the opening. A drum could be tune
Musical tuning
In music, there are two common meanings for tuning:* Tuning practice, the act of tuning an instrument or voice.* Tuning systems, the various systems of pitches used to tune an instrument, and their theoretical bases.-Tuning practice:...

d to produce a lower note
Note
In music, the term note has two primary meanings:#A sign used in musical notation to represent the relative duration and pitch of a sound;#A pitched sound itself....

 and a higher note. For that it would need to be hollowed out more under one lip than under the other. The drum's lips are hit with sticks, beating out rhythm
Rhythm
Rhythm may be generally defined as a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions." This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time may be applied to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or...

s of high and low notes.

Under ideal conditions, the sound can be understood at 8 km (5 mi), but interesting messages usually get relayed on by the next village. "The talking drums" or "jungle drums" is also a euphemism
Euphemism
A euphemism is the substitution of a mild, inoffensive, relatively uncontroversial phrase for another more frank expression that might offend or otherwise suggest something unpleasant to the audience...

 for gossip
Gossip
Gossip is idle talk or rumour, especially about the personal or private affairs of others, It is one of the oldest and most common means of sharing facts and views, but also has a reputation for the introduction of errors and variations into the information transmitted...

 - similar to "the grapevine
Grapevine (gossip)
To hear something through the grapevine is to learn of something informally and unofficially by means of gossip and rumor.The usual implication is that the information was passed person to person by word of mouth, perhaps in a confidential manner among friends or colleagues. It can also imply an...

".

Africa



In Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

 and the tropical America, people have used drum telegraphy to communicate with each other from far away for centuries. When European expeditions came into the jungles to explore the primeval forest, they were surprised to find that the message of their coming and their intention was carried through the woods a step in advance of their arrival. An African message can be transmitted at the speed of 100 miles in an hour .

Among the famous communication drums are the drums of West Africa
West Africa
West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of the African continent. Geopolitically, the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries and an area of approximately 5 million square km:-Flags of West Africa:...

 (see talking drum). From regions known today as Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 and Ghana
Ghana
Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

 they spread across West Africa and to America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 during the slave trade. There they were banned because they were being used by the slaves to communicate over long distances in a code unknown to their enslavers.

Talking drums were also used in East Africa and are described by Andreus Bauer in the 'Street of Caravans' while acting as security guard in the Wissmann Truppe for the caravan of Charles Stokes.

African drum language


The traditional drumming found in Africa is actually of three different types. Firstly, a rhythm can represent an idea (or signal). Secondly it can repeat the profile of a spoken utterance or thirdly it can simply be subject to musical laws.

Drum communication methods are not languages in their own right; they are based on actual natural languages. The sounds produced are conventionalized or idiomatic signals based on speech patterns. The messages are normally very stereotyped and context-dependent. They lack the ability to form new combinations and expressions.

In central and east Africa, drum patterns represent the stress
Stress (linguistics)
In linguistics, stress is the relative emphasis that may be given to certain syllables in a word, or to certain words in a phrase or sentence. The term is also used for similar patterns of phonetic prominence inside syllables. The word accent is sometimes also used with this sense.The stress placed...

es, syllable
Syllable
A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. For example, the word water is composed of two syllables: wa and ter. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus with optional initial and final margins .Syllables are often considered the phonological "building...

 lengths and
tone
Tone (linguistics)
Tone is the use of pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning—that is, to distinguish or inflect words. All verbal languages use pitch to express emotional and other paralinguistic information, and to convey emphasis, contrast, and other such features in what is called...

 of the particular African language. In tone languages, where syllables are associated with a certain tone, some words are only distinguished only by their suprasegmental profile
Prosody (linguistics)
In linguistics, prosody is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance ; the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of...

. Therefore, syllable drum languages can often communicate a message using the tonal phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

s alone.

In certain languages, the pitch of each syllable is uniquely determined in relation to each adjacent syllable. In these cases, messages can be transmitted as rapid beats at the same speed as speech as the rhythm
Rhythm
Rhythm may be generally defined as a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions." This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time may be applied to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or...

 and melody
Melody
A melody , also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones which is perceived as a single entity...

 both match the equivalent spoken utterance.

Misinterpretations can occur due to the highly ambiguous nature of the communication. This is reduced by context effects and the use of stock phrases. For example, in Jabo, most stems are monosyllabic. By using a proverb or honorary title to create expanded versions of an animal, person's name or object, the corresponding single beat can be replaced with a rhythmic and melodic motif
Motif (music)
In music, a motif or motive is a short musical idea, a salient recurring figure, musical fragment or succession of notes that has some special importance in or is characteristic of a composition....

 representing the subject. In practice not all listeners understand all of the stock phrases; the drum language is understood only to the level of their immediate concern.

Some people such as the Melanesians extend this idea further by freely inventing signs to make up their drum signals. This is in sharp contrast to the Efik tribe of Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 who use notes which exactly correspond to the tones of their morpheme
Morpheme
In linguistics, a morpheme is the smallest semantically meaningful unit in a language. The field of study dedicated to morphemes is called morphology. A morpheme is not identical to a word, and the principal difference between the two is that a morpheme may or may not stand alone, whereas a word,...

s. Different still is the Ewe language
Ewe language
Ewe is a Niger–Congo language spoken in Ghana, Togo and Benin by approximately six million people. Ewe is part of a cluster of related languages commonly called Gbe, spoken in southeastern Ghana, Togo, and parts of Benin. Other Gbe languages include Fon, Gen, Phla Phera, and Aja...

 found in Togo
Togo
Togo, officially the Togolese Republic , is a country in West Africa bordered by Ghana to the west, Benin to the east and Burkina Faso to the north. It extends south to the Gulf of Guinea, on which the capital Lomé is located. Togo covers an area of approximately with a population of approximately...

, where only full sentences and their combinations are translated into the drum language. No smaller units are used; a sound picture represents a whole thought. This is similar to the Tangu tribe of New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

, where signals represent phrases, the mnemonic
Mnemonic
A mnemonic , or mnemonic device, is any learning technique that aids memory. To improve long term memory, mnemonic systems are used to make memorization easier. Commonly encountered mnemonics are often verbal, such as a very short poem or a special word used to help a person remember something,...

s of which are parts of song melodies, quasi-poetic rhythms or purely personal rhythms.

When a drum is used in speech mode, it is culturally defined and depends on the linguistic/cultural boundaries. Therefore, communication suffers from translation problems as in vocal communication. There is no international drum language.

See also


  • Talking drum
  • Drum
    Drum
    The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments, which is technically classified as the membranophones. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with the player's hands, or with a...

  • Gong
    Gong
    A gong is an East and South East Asian musical percussion instrument that takes the form of a flat metal disc which is hit with a mallet....

  • Whistled language
    Whistled language
    Whistled languages use whistling to emulate speech and facilitate communication. A whistled language is a system of whistled communication which allows fluent whistlers to transmit and comprehend a potentially unlimited number of messages over long distances...

  • Communication
    Communication
    Communication is the activity of conveying meaningful information. Communication requires a sender, a message, and an intended recipient, although the receiver need not be present or aware of the sender's intent to communicate at the time of communication; thus communication can occur across vast...



External links