Instruments, the Rhythms, and the People Who
by Don Skoog and Alejandro Carvajal
200 pages, 8 1⁄2” X 11” $40 (+ $5 S&H)
is the most comprehensive study of this important Cuban musical
and the first to explore the people who created it, how it developed
in Cuba, and where it fits in relation to the other folkloric traditions
Who were the slaves brought to Cuba? What belief systems did they
carry with them? How did the various Afro-Cuban religions grow from
these systems? What
types of music evolved from these religions? What is Santeria, and how do the
batá drums function within it? Part One answers these questions.
Part Two examines the history of the drums: how they are taught, learned, and
played, explaining their role in the ceremony and the structure of the music.
These discussions incorporate the latest scholarship as well as the ideas and
concepts of respected Cuban and North American batá drummers, resulting
in a more well-rounded study of the tradition as it is practiced today.
The center piece of Batá Drumming is the Oru
Seco, a set of playable,
musical transcriptions of twenty-two rhythms dedicated to the Santeria gods.
This transcription set accurately notates the rhythms of the Papo Angarica “school” or
performance style, which is very influential in Havana-style drumming.
Batá Drumming is the first book not only to notate the rhythms, but to
connect them to the people who preserved and recreated them, “in the unrelenting
face of displacement and oppression.”
Don Skoog is an American musician and writer who
has devoted two decades to the study of Cuban music. Alejandro Carvajal
Guerrais a respected Cuban batá drummer, Santeria priest, and educator who traces
his family heritage back to the Yorubas of Nigeria. Their ten-year collaboration
has produced the most comprehensive book to-date on the history, sociology, anthropology,
theology, and musicology of this powerful drumming and the fascinating people
who play it.
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