Zambia, Southern Africa
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of music to Southern African life. African villagers sing and dance at every occasion. The musical experience is a unifying one; there are songs for work, drinking, and love which not only entertain but also bind the village together. While the subjects of songs may come from the distant past, most songs are fairly new, and improvisation is common. Drums, which establish the polyrhythmic complexity of the music, occur in different shapes and sizes to produce a range of “voices.” Drummers play alone or in ensemble, generally accompanied by the audience in complex hand clapping or complex call and response. Ngoma is the name for “drum” in the Bantu language. When associated with festivities this drum becomes a dance instrument, but in ceremonies it is linked to royal or magical powers. An antique and well used Ngoma like this one is rare. Most stay within the village.