Drumming In Salvador, Bahia
“Life is about rhythm. We vibrate, our hearts are pumping blood, we are a rhythm machine, that’s what we are. “ Mickey Hart
When the 4.5 to 8 million African slaves disembarked from the hell hole of the slave ships, those who lived, brought with them their belief system, their religion and their gods.Their orishas or deities would retain their African names, characteristics, and functions, but assumed new forms in Latin America and the Caribbean. Millions came to Bahia, the center of Brazil’s sugar and slave trades, and today more than 80% of the population has African ancestry. In Brazil, the religion is called Candoble.
African slaves believed in a pantheon of protector gods who not only personify natural forces such as fire, wind and water, but also animals, colors, a day of the week or a certain food group.
Drums are the heart of this religious tradition which now blends African beliefs with Portuguese Catholic influences.
In worship ceremonies, devotees commune with deities known as orixas through dance, chants, offerings and music rituals in which drumming plays a prominent role. The drums speak to the gods.
We were fortunate to spend some time with Maestro Macambira.
He explained the significance of the different drums and drum beats.
Offerings are always around for the deities. Each orixa has its favorite drink or sweet.
The beat of tall, conga-like drums, and atabaques, a conical hand drum that comes in three sizes, calls forth the orixas and creates a trance-like mood for encountering the divine.
He demonstrated some of the beats. It turns out that the Bf is a drummer -who knew? Special thanks to Maestra Macambira for the lesson and the duets.
The music and dance of Candoble have influenced Brazilian musicians and artists and the beats sound familiar. Walking along the streets of Pelourinho (the old city) it is very common to hear the sound of drums in the rhythm of student groups that amazes everyone with its vibrant and lively beat. Sound is everywhere.