Music Research Institute



Yoruba Drumming:  The Dùndún Tradition
Bayreuth:  Bayreuth African Studies Series, 1990

by Akin Euba

1991, 563 pp., paperback. ISBN 3-927510-11-4. 

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Yoruba Drumming: The Dundun Tradition by Akin Euba

Dundun is the most characteristic type of Yoruba traditional drumming and features in a wide variety of social context, both religious and secular.

Hourglass tension drums, which form the basis of dundun, are found all over West Africa and are believed to have entered the region from the north. Their spread over Yorubaland was coincident with the rise of the Oyo Empire and the chief exponents of dundun are located in central and northern Yorubaland.

The use of musical instruments as speech surrogates is a major aspect of Yoruba culture and the preeminence of dundun in the culture is directly related to the value and versatility of tension drums as talking instruments.

Dundun is practised extensively among the Yoruba and is the best- known type of traditional drumming. Consequently, a study of its theory and practise gives an overview of the style of Yoruba drumming in general. Dr. Euba’s authoritative study of Yoruba tension drums provides a comprehensive analysis of one of Africa’s major drumming traditions. Its 14 chapters are presented in four parts: (1) The Social Background (ii) The Ensemble (iii) The Poetry and the music (iv) Related Musical Types and other Art Forms. There are musical and textual transcriptions (with parallel translation in English) of 14 pieces, classified under (I) Religious Drumming (ii) Gbedu: Drumming for Kingship (iii) Secular Drumming. The book is copiously illustrated with musical and textual examples and includes tables, figures, graphs, tuning chart, maps, photos, appendices, bibliography and index. 

 

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