Saturday, January 6, 2024

The Yoruba Gangan Drum; More Than Just A Drum!!!

The Yoruba Gangan Drum; More Than Just A Drum!!!

Historically the Yoruba people of Southwestern Nigeria are not only fond of celebrating great occurrences in the course of their lifetime but also they have always maintained their awareness as to what the dichotomy should be in the celebration of different events!!!

As such the Yoruba people since time in memorial have always paid much attention and luxuries into the celebration of life than death. Although, this is not the same thing for the contemporary Yoruba society. However historically, in other to add great flavour into the celebration of life the people invented a unique classification of drum!!!

The people during the earliest times invented the renowned Gangan Drum alongside other musical instruments, but what makes this particular drum spectacular is that it was actually fashioned to mimic human speech, this which is quite rare for most types of drums!!!

The invention of this particular drum undoubtedly is a pointer to the fact that during the pre-colonial times this people had no problem in perceiving the nexus between arts and cultures. Mimicking is done by varying the tension on the cords that connect the opposing drumheads!!! 

It was designed to have a pitch resonating chamber inside. The waist of the drum is held between the drummer's arm and ribs, so that when squeezed, the drumhead is tightened, giving out a higher note than when in its relaxed state. The pitch can be changed during a single beat, producing a melodic note and the drum can thus capture the pitch, volume, and rhythm of human speech!!!

Because of the spectacular look of this drum, Gangan is used for various purposes in different ceremonies today, like festivals, praise singing, proverbial sayings, keeping of historical records, memories, communication and also as signs and secret communications during hostilities!!!

Gangan is mostly handled by an old experienced drummer as it is believed that the drummer dictates the tempo and direction of the general beat. He also has the obligation to remind the singer of certain things and in many cases, it communicates with the dancers as well!!! 

Therefore, anytime Gangan is involved, people are not only charged by the beat but also emotionally carried away by the messages it passes. Basically, the invention of this drum gave a rise to the occupation of drumming in pre-colonial Yoruba society!!!

Drumming became a profession, as Gangan drummers or expertise (Ayan) began to move from one place to the other recruiting new drummers. As such today, several Gangan drummers can be found in some families going by their heritage. Some Yoruba names today still suggest their roots are from drumming family, such as Ayangalu, Ayansola, Ayandiran to mention a few!!!

To understand the historical antecedents of any pre-colonial African society is to understand the nexus between arts, cultures and spirituality!!!    
By Black Revolutionaries Movement

Source: Omoba Twitter 

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