Amazonian Tribe Use Drumming Language to Communicate Long Distances

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Amazonian tribe use drumming language to communicate long distances up to 20km away, according to a report published on April 24, 2018.

Researchers, who conducted this study analyzed the unusual mode of communication and found that it bears many of the hallmarks of spoken language, imitating the melody and rhythm of words and sentences. The Boras are an indigenous group occupying the Peruvian and Colombian Amazon and presently comprises of around 1,500 people.

Manguare drums are a key element of Bora culture used for communication both within and between communities. According to their tradition, every household would have owned a set, and every community member would have understood messages sent via the drums without explicit training. However, researchers found that the Bora language’s days may be numbered in both its spoken and drummed forms.

Currently, there are only around 20 manguare drums in existence, which are also falling out of use. Also, spoken Bora is slowly being replaced by Spanish. The instrument can be used in musical mode, as part of rituals or festivals or talking mode to transmit informal messages and public announcements.

Dr. Frank Seifart, a linguist at the University of Amsterdam said, “In this model, only two pitches are used, and each beat corresponds to a syllable of a corresponding phrase of spoken Bora. The announcements contain on average 15 words and 60 drum beats.” Spoken and drummed messages were then compared by the researchers to understand the linguistic structure of drummed Bora and how it related to the spoken version. Furthermore, the analysis conducted by the researchers confirmed that drumming mimicked the tone and rhythm of Bora speech.

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