Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Rundi Wake

Rundi women performing "Ubuhuha"
12" x 16". oil on wood, 2013
So my friend from the Netherlands came to visit for the holidays. He brought with him, as a gift, from his own collection, a fantastic set of records. My favorite so far from the set is a volume of traditional music from Burundi recorded in 1967. I've played the whole record several times already and it contains, perhaps the biggest bonus of all, an example of a lamentation that were traditionally performed during a wake. Once upon a time the lamenting of the dead was an almost universal practice but has since disappeared. About a year ago I compiled all examples I collected of recordings of such practices on a CD that I called Keening Songs and Death Wails. I am thrilled that I can add yet another one. Ubuhuha as these lamentations are called in Burundi is maybe my favorite of them all. (From the liner notes by Michel Vuylsteke:) "The women use their lips like reeds to set in motion the volume of air contained in the cavity formed by cupping both hands against their mouths. The resultant sounds vary in pitch, timbre and volume according to the postion of their hands and the  tension of their lips."

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