Bata music is complex and ideally should be learned under the guidance and tutelage of a master drummer. The rise of the Internet and the increased interest in Afro-Cuban and African music have given many people much easier access to information on these topics. Many of these sources, provide valuable study resources, and can help you establish a good working knowledge of bata. However bata is really still an oral tradition.

There are certain aspects of the music that can only be taught through study with an expert. If you would like to grasp bata music in its entirety, including all the traditional and cultural aspects that accompany it, you are strongly urged to seek the talents of such an expert to make the learning expérience truly fulfilling. In the interim, we will endeavor to provide you with at least a basic introduction to this beautiful form of musical expression.

Traditional bata music is played in a religions function called a bembe, in honor and in worship of Yoruba deities called Orisha. Although there are many différent ways to perform a bembe, the most formal always involve the use of sacred bata drums played by drummers who have been initiated for such roles. When played with bata drums, a bembe is usually broken down into three parts:

* Oru Seco : the first part of a bembe and a series of bata salutes called toques played for each of the Orisha. The term seco actually means "dry" in Spanish and, in this case, refers to the absence of singing.

* Oru Cantando : the second part of a bembe consisting of a series of songs sung for each of the Orisha. The songs are accompanied by bata drums, and may employ many of the same toques used during the Oru Seco portion. (Or entirely new toques may be played.)

* Wemelere : the last part of a bembe, the wemelere expands on the music played in the prior sections and includes dancing and singing, in hopes that the Orisha will come down and "visit" the participants.

When learning bata music, the first step is to master the salutes played in the Oru Seco.


Guaguanco on Bata: click here! (by Laurent Lamy)

 

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