Basic Technique


There are many types of double-headed drums found all over the world, but the bata drum and its music are unique to the Yoruba people of West Africa, and their descendants in Cuba. Bata drums are used in sacred worship of Yoruba deities called Orisha. And although the Cuban form of Orisha worship has evolved separately over the years, it still retains the very old and traditional concepts and rhythms associated with this music.

In fact, due to Cuba's isolation, there are instances where the Cuban interprétation of some Orisha music is closer to its original African form from hundreds of years ago than the current-day African counter-part. In Cuba today, there are two general styles of bata drumming - Havana style, and Matanzas style.

The bata can be played in either a standing or sitting position, depending on the occasion. In either case, the drum is placed sideways across your body, perpendicular to it. If you are sitting, the bata drum is placed in your lap. If you are standing, it is held in place with a neck strap. The drum is played by striking the two heads as you would with any standard hand drum.

In essence, the bata is two différent sized drums or chambers joined together with a shared or common center space. Therefore, it has two heads - one on each end of the body. The smaller of the two heads is called the cha-cha (not to be confused with the son style of music known as Cha-cha-cha), and the larger is called the enu, which means " mouth " in the Yoruba language. The Enu is the side you are considered to " speak " from. If you are right handed, play the enu with your right hand. If you are left handed, play it with your left hand.

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