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Bata Drums


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 Bataclick here!


This book is by Laurent Lamy
click here

 
 
 

Introduction

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

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.

 

 

Glossary

(Lu) Lucumi term
(Sp) Spanish term


Achere (Lu.) 
A small rattle which is sometimes used to play the standard bell pattern in batà ensembles.

Agbé (Lu.) 
A calabash gourd idiophone strung on the outside with beads. Sometimes called shekere.

Agogo (Lu.) 
Metal bell used to play the standard bell pattern in bembé ensembles.

Afia (Lu.) 
A sacred force believed to reside in the batà drums, considered an oricha by some Santeros.

Batalero (Lu./Sp.) 
A batà drummer.

Bembé (Lu.) 
A religions party held to honor an oricha.

Cabildo (Sp.) 
Mutual aid societies established by slaves in Cuba.

Caminos (Sp.) 
Roads. Diferent avatars of an oricha. Each " standard pattern " or toque signifies a différent camino.

Chacha (Lu.) 
The smaller head of the batà drum.

Chaworo (Lu.) 
Bells wrapped around the shell of the iyà ilù.

Cierre (Sp.) 
Closing. The ritual that closes a bembé.

Conversacion (Sp.) 
A conversation that takes place between the iyà and itotele. Conversations used to render lexical meaning but most of this knowledge has been lost.

Enù (Lu.) 
The larger head of the batà drum.

Fardela (Sp.) 
Also called the idà, it is a ring of clay molded to the iyà ilu'. It is used to dampen the drum's overtones.

Güiro (Sp.) 
Musical gourd. An idiophone, it is also known as agbé or shekere. It is covered with strung beads and played by shaking and striking the bottom.

Ida (Lu.) 
See Fardela.

Itotele (Lu.) 
The middle drum of the batà set.

Iya (Lu.) 
Mother.

Iya Ilu (Lu.) 
Mother drum. The lead drum in the ba
tà ensemble.

Llame (Sp.) The call used in batà drumming to begin a rhythm or initiate a conversation.

Lucumi 
Name used to identify Yoruba slaves and their language in Cuba. Practitioners today sometimes call their religion Lucumi.

Ocha (Lu.) 
A saint/oricha. The religion of Santeria (Regla de Ocha).

Okonkolo (Lu.) 
The smallest drum of the batà set. Also called omelé.

Olori (Lu.) 
The strap used by the batalero to secure the drum during performance.

Olù Bata (Lu.) 
A batalero initiated into Ana.

Omelé (Lu.) 
Another name for okonkolo.

Omo (Lu.) 
Child.

Ori (Lu.) 
The physical head and inner person. The essence of personality.

Oricha (Lu.) 
Sacred head. The nature divinities of traditional Yoruba religion and Santeria.

Oru (Lu.) 
A liturgical sequence of songs or batà rhythms. (Sometimes mistakenly called oro.)

Oru del Igbodu (Lu.) 
" Oru in front of the throne " played on the batà drums without song. Also called oru seco.

Orun (Lu.) 
The heaven world of Yoruba religion.

Santeria (Sp.) 
The Lucumi religion of Cuba.

Santero, Santera (Sp.)
Male and female initiates or priests of Santeria.

Santo (Sp.) 
Saint. The oricha.

Tambor (Sp.) 
Drummer.

Tamabor (Sp.) 
Drum. A liturgical fiesta for the orichas using the batà drums.

Toque (Sp.) 
A bata rhythm. Another name for a liturgical fiesta using batà.

Yesa (Iyesa) (Lu.) 
Single headed drum type found in Cuba. Name of generic rhythms played in " drum and güiro " ensembles. In batà ensembles this rhythm is called rumba yesa.

 

Cuban Bata Discography

1) TRADITIONAL

********
Afromerica
Chants et rythmes afrocubains
Mercedes Lay Bravo
Marisela Trujilo
Florinda Sabido
june 1997
VDE-Gallo VDE CD 959
cd
Tracks Eleggua (3:11), Yemaya (3:40), Chango (2:50) and Obatala (3:15)
are songs with bata.

********
Amira, John
The music of Santeria. The Oru del Igbodu
John Amira (iya)
Orlando Fiol (ito)
Joe DeLeon (oko)
1993?
White Cliffs Media WCM 9346
cd
Oru del Igbodu in New York/Havana style, with alternate versions.

********
Cardona, Milton
Bembe
Hector Flaco Hernandez (iya)
Steve Berrios (ito)
Jose Fernandez (oko)
Milton Cardona (iya)
august 1985 
American Clave AMCL 1004 2
Cd Tracks : Salute to Yemaya, Elegua, Ogun, Ochosi, Babalu Aye,
Obatala, Chango, Yemaya, Ochun, Ododua, Elegua, with voice & batas

********
Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba
Musica Yoruba


Carlos Aldama (iya)
Mario Jauregui (ito)
Ramiro Hernandez (oko)
1970s
Bembe 2010-2
cd
Songs : Eleggua, Obatala, Yemaya, Chango, Oya (a capella), Orula, Oddudua,
Babalu Aye, Eleggua; Reissue of an earlier EGREM record.
Vocalists : Lazaro Ros and Felipe Alfonso.

********
Grupo Oba-Ilu
Santeria. Songs for the orishas
Mario Jauregui Francis (iya)
Pedro Pablo Martinez Campos (ito)
Maximo Duquesnes Martinez (oko)
Rocardo Gomez Rivero (oko)
december 1995
Soul Jazz SJR CD38
cd
Tracks Eleggua, Ogun, Ochosi, Obbatala, Shango, Oya, Oshun, Yemaya voice with batas. + beginnings (6:00) of Oru del Igbodu

********
Munequitos de Matanzas
Cantar maravilloso

 
Jesus Alfonso
Gregorio Diaz
Agustin Diaz
Globestyle Records CDORB 053
cd
Iya mi le (madre mira mi casa) (7:53) (not on lp) with batas; Arague (6:15)
with batas & conga.

********
Munequitos de Matanzas
Ito Iban Echu

 
Qbadisc
QB 9022
cd
Ogun arere; Obatala;Babalu Aye;Ochun;Yeye Ochun;Yemaya;Yemaya Olordo;Agay- u; Chango Eyeleo; Dada; Oya; Eleggua.

********
Valdes, Merceditas
Ache
Los tambores bata de Jesus Perez
Artex cd - 010
cd
Contains tracks Elegua, Oggun, Chango, Ochun, Obatala with voice & batas.

********
Valdes, Merceditas
Ache IV

 
Grupo Yoruba Andabo
1995?
Egrem cd 0160
cd
Elegua, Obatala-Baba Fururu, Yemaya, Ochun, Ibeyi.

********
Valdes, Merceditas
y los tambores bata de Jesus Perez
Jesus Perez
ASPIC X 55512
cd
Reissue of original EGREM recordings. Contains tracks Ellegua, Oggun, Obata-
la, Yemaya, Ochun, Chango, Osain, Ellegua, Chango.

********
various
Afro-Cuba, a musical anthology
Rounder CD 1088
cd
Song for Ododua (2:04), Bata drums for Chango (3:05), Esto no lleva bata
(performed by Los Papines) (3:39)

********
various
Antologia de la Musica Afrocubana Vol II
Oru de Igbodu
Recorded in Matanzas (casa de Ricardo Suarez) 1977
Egrem LD 3995 (Areito)
lp
Toques a Elebwa, Oggun, Ochosi, San Lazaro, Orunla, Aggayu, Chango,
Obba, Oya, Yemaya, Obatala, Ochun, Yegua, Idbeyi. Ayacuta (para Chango).
Cantos a Chango, Oggun.

********
various
Cuba : Les danses des dieux
Lucumies Community of Regla/Havana
1985-88
Ocora C 559051
cd
Contains Songs to Ellegua from the Oru del Eya Aranla (6:49)

********
various
Sacred rhythms of Cuban Santeria
Conjunto de tambores bata de Amado Diaz Alfonso
20. november 1984
Smithsonian/Folkways SF 40419
cd
Oru de Igbodu para Yemaya (25:35) in Matanzas style.

********
various
The Yoruba/Dahomean Collection (Orishas across the ocean)
before 1950; 1957
Library of congress series/Endangered music project. Ryko RCD 10405
cd
Song for Elegua (3:22) recorded by Jean Liscano in Venezuela before 1950,
performed by Conjunto El Nino, led by Guillermo Rigueiro.
Song for Yemaya (3:05), Song for Chango (3:05) recorded by Lydia Cabrera
in 1957, performed by Candido Martinez with an ensemble led by Miguel
Santa Cruz and Juan Gonzalez.

********
various
Vida y muerte del santero
Egrem cd 0191
cd
Has batas on 10 of the 12 tracks. Contains ritual music seldom heard (esp.
the ceremony for Eggun). 
Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba
Areito LDA 3156
lp

********
Conjunto de percusion de Danza Nacional de Cuba
Jesus Perez : In memoriam/Homenaje.
Egrem LD 4246
lp

********
Grupo Folklorico de Justi Barreto
Santeria (Toques y Cantos)
Gema records corp. LPG 1193

********
Grupo Ilu Ana
Sacred rhythms
Fundamento productions
Cd

Ros, Lazaro
Olorun
Xenophile
GLCD 4022
cd

********
Ros, Lazaro
Olorun
Egrem
cd

********
Ros, Lazaro y Olorun
Songs for Elegua
Ashe by Rounder Recs.
cd

********
Santos, John & the coro folklorico Kindembo
Hacia del amor
Xenophile
cd

********
Toques y cantos de santos (2 vols)
Cubilandia C-CD 511

********
Iluyenkori
Percussions Cubaines
Playasound PS 65084
cd

********
Guines, Tata
Aniversario
Maximino Duquesne (iya)
Marco Herminio Diaz (ito)
Grupo Folklorico de Justi Barreto
Santeria (Toques y Cantos)
Gema records corp. LPG 1193

 



2) NON TRADITIONAL


********
Coleman, Steve
The sign and the seal
(with Afrocuba de Matanzas)
1996
BMG
cd

little Coati Mundi
The former 12 year old genius
Hector Hernandez
1983
Virgin
lp
Track Pharaoh

********
Eno, Brian and David Byrne
My life in the bush of ghosts
Mingo Lewis
1981
E.G. EGCD 48
cd
Tracks The Jezebel spirit and The Carrier

********
Estefan, Gloria
Abriendo puertas
Luis Enrique
1995
Sony 480992 2
cd
Track 7 (La parranda)

********
Feliciano, Cheo
Estampas
1979
Vaya JMVS 86
lp
Contains batas at the end of the track Estampa Marina (5:26)

********
Gonzalez, Jerry
Obatala
Milton Cardona
Hector Flaco Hernandez
Steve Berrios
6. november 1988
Enja 5059 2
cd
Intro has some bata drumming (2:27)

********
Grupo Folklorico y Experimental Nuevayorquino
Concepts in Unity
at least Milton Cardona
april 1975 
Salsoul 20-6001-2
cd
Canto Asoyin (4:26)

********
Irakere
Seleccion de exitos (1973-1978) vol. 1
1973-78
Dom (licenced by egrem) CD 1201
cd
Has bata drums on track Iya (5:50).

********
Irakere
Babalu Aye
Alexander Martinez
Rogelio Ruiz
Jose Pablo Hernandez
Bembe 2020-2
Cantata a Babalu Aye (14:01) by Lazaro Ros, his group and Irakere.

********
Lotz of music
Le coq rouge
Javier Martinez Campos (iya)
Jos de Haas (ito)
Frank van Dok (oko);Stefan Kruger (oko)
Sjahin During (ito,oko)
1996
VIA 9920122
cd

********
Lotz of music
Lotz of music in Havana. Blues for Yemaya
Javier Martinez Campos, Jorge Nunez Menocal (iya)
Jose Pilar Suarez (ito)
Sjahin During (oko)
1998
VIA 9920592
cd

********
Nueva Manteca
Bluesongo
Martin Verdonk (iya,oko)
Lucas van Merwijk (ito)
1994
Lucho 7706-2
cd

********
Santamaria, Mongo
Up from the roots
Julito Collazo (ito)
1972?
Atlantic SD 1621
lp

********
Santamaria, Mongo
Red hot
Mongo Santamaria
Steve Berrios
Hector Hernandez
Julio Collazo
1979?
CBS/Tappan-Zee 83340
lp
Afro-Cuban Fantasy (7:36) contains bata drums.

********
Spiro, Michael and Mark Lamson
Bata Ketu
Michael Spiro
Mark Lamson
Kelvin Delgado (oko)
1990s
Bembe 2011-2
cd

********
Afrocuba de Matanzas
Rituales Afrocubanos
Egrem CD 0058
cd

********
Aguabella, Francisco
Santeria Oro Cantado (3 vols)
Francisco Aguabella
Go productions 10032
cassette

********
Anderson, Laurie
Home of the brave
Daniel Ponce (?) (iya, oko)
Bata on Sharky's day.

********
Anderson, Laurie
Mister heartbreak
Daniel Ponce (iya, oko)
1983
Warner Bros.
Batas are used on Sharky's day

********
Batacumbele
(just about anything)

********
Beasley, John
Cauldron
Bill Summers
Munyungo Jackson ?

********
Bunnett, Jane ?
Chamalongo
Pancho Quinto ?

********
Conjunto Cespedes
Vivito y coleando
Jesus Diaz (oko)
John Santos (ito)
Tobaji Stewart (iya)
1995
Xenophile
Bata on Que viva chango

********
Conjunto Cespedes
Flores
Mike Spiro (iya)
Jesus Diaz (ito)
Michael Lennan (oko)
1998
Xenophile
Bata used on El tambor tiene su magia

********
Conjunto Cespedes
Una sola casa
Mike Spiro (iya)
Jesus Diaz (ito)
1993
Green Linnet
Bata on Virgen de la Caridad

********
Estefan, Gloria
Destiny

********
Lazaro Rizo (oko)
Egrem CD 0156
cd
Has batas on the track Con tres tambores bata,
a bata rumba by Ernesto Gatel.

********
Hancock, Herbie
Dis is da drum
Bill Summers
Munyungo Jackson ?

********
Herwig, Conrad
The latin side of John Coltrane
Astor place records

********
Mezcla
(any title)

********
Palmieri, Eddie
Llego la india
Acid jazz
cd

********
Pastorius, Jaco
Jaco Pastorius
Don Alias (oko, iya)
1976
Epic
Bata used on Okonkolo y trompa

********
Pedroso, Cesar
Lo mejor de Cesar Pedroso - Hits of Los Van Van
Qbadisc
Has batas in the track El buena gente.

********
Quinto, Pancho
En el solar la cueva del humo

********
Quinto, Pancho
latest recording

********
Rodriguez, Alfredo
Cuba Linda
Mario Jauregui Aspirina
Justo Pelladito
Amado J. Dedeu
1996
Hannibal
Bata used on Mercedita ya me voy and Drume negrita.

********
Santamaria, Mongo
Our man in Havana (a.k.a. Mongo in Havana ?)
Fantasy 3311

********
Santeria religion afrocubana
OLM Records 10037

********
Sintesis Orishas

********
Sintesis
(other titles)

********
Terry, Los
From Africa to Camaguey

********
Tipica 73
Tipica 73 en Cuba

********
Tipica 73
La candela

********
Tipica 73
Encendida

********
Valdes, Merceditas
Panart LD 3096

********
Valdez, Merceditas
vol. 2
Egrem
cd




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Description
1. Oyelos De Nuevo 2. Lo Que Dice El Abakua 3. Fundamento Dilanga 4. El Marino 5. Llora Como Llore 6. Mi Arere 7. Notas Musicales 8. Iya Mi Le (Madre Mira Mi Casa) 9. Cantar Maravilloso 10. Arague 11. A Los Embales ...


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June 19, 1996 - Bembe Records
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