The three bata drums and their role in an ensemble:

Okonkolo :
the smallest bata dram, the okonkolo produces the highest pitched tones and is typically used to play a standard set of rhythms in support of the Iya and Itotele. The Okonkolo is considered the metronome and time-keeper of the bata ensemble, hence there is little improvisation (floreos) carried out on this bata drum, especially during the Oru Seco. However the level of improvisation depends on the bata rhythm and the context in which it is played. Some rhythms actually require the okonkolo player to be able to improvise more freely to really swing the music.

Itotele :
the middle bata drums, the Itotele produces the medium pitched tones and is also used to play a standard set of rhythms in support of the Iya. As with the Okonkolo, these rhythms are fairly universel with little variation from one form of bata to another. The itotele, is expected to answer " and " converse with " the Iya.
This usually allows the player a little more improvisational freedom then with the okonkolo. But again, this depends on the rhythm and the context in which it is being played. Itotele rhythms are fairly stock and improvisation-free during the Oru Seco.

Iya :
the largest of the bata drums, the Iya produces the lowest pitched tones. The iya also has stock phrases found universally and played by all Iya players. These should be leamed and mastered first. Once you have a good working knowledge of the iya, you may notice iya players incorporating many variations in their parts, even in the most basic of rhythms. Most of these variations will occur on the cha-cha side of the Iya and will require a well-trained ear to distinguish. The iya " calls out " the changes and conversations for the entire bata ensemble, and usually has the most improvisational freedom of all the bata drums. Most but not all of this improvisational skill lies in the placement of strokes on the larger of the two drumheads, the cha-cha…

Batas trio. A part of Maiseboa:
On the Iya (center): Didier Roch
On the itotele (right): Laurent Lamy
On the okonkolo (left): Fabien Hily

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