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date: 19 November 2019


  • Raymond Ammann


Slit-drum of Ambae (Vanuatu). Ambae slit drums are placed horizontally on the ground, not standing as on the neighbouring islands of Malakula or Ambrym. An ensemble consists of drums of three sizes, each with its own function in polyrhythmic performance. The largest, called ratahigi (‘mother’) is up to 4 m long and 1.5 m in diameter. A wooden ring is left on one end of the log for a rope to pull it to the village during its manufacture. The drummer of the ratahigi holds in his left hand a large soft club (karolouwa) made from a liana, and in his right hand a slender wooden stick (kaiki); these produce different timbres, needed to direct the ensemble according to the movement of dancers.

The middle-size drum, called simbegi (sinbegi), is up to 1.5 m long and 50 cm in diameter. It is struck with two identical wooden sticks. The ...

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