Re: Pygmy Flute ensembles
- Dear Friends,
I am an ethnomusicologist living in Mississippi, and I actually
learned to play the "hindewhu" Pygmy whistle from Leon Thomas, a
famous Jazz singer who lived in my native NYC in the 1970's. I make
these one note whistles from a strong bamboo joints, tuned to a
specific pitch. Bill Summers, the percussionist who played on the
Herbie Hancock track which you mentioned, currently resides in New
Orleans where he co-leads "Los Hombres Calientes," a Latin/Jazz/World
The Babenzele' Pygmies instrumental technique which you are
referring to is called hindewhu. This is realized by a type of
hocketing between the singing voice and blowing across the opening of
a hollow paw paw stem. Although some in the West call the stem itself
"hindewhu," I'm not sure taht's accurate. This hocketing technique is
also used by non-Pygmy groups in Cameroon on single note whistles as
well as in panpipe ensembles in the Zambezi Valley of Mozambique,
where the technique is highly developed. Apparently similar techniques
are applied to the Alghaita, a double reed instrument in Niger. I
would caution anyone who wants to conclude that it is somehow a Pygmy
musical practice that radiated far outside of the Ituri Forest. Of
course this IS possible as pygmies were the object of curiousity for
polities as far away as ancient Egypt, but again I would advise caution.
African-Americans in the Southern US also use the "hindewhu"
technique. This technique of "blowing and hooting" has also been
extended by Sonny Terry and other traditional Blues harmonica players.
A number of examples are found in Mississippi folk music, including
the use of cane panpipes or by using a small glass bottle to obtain
the same effect. A number of recordings of both the African and the
African-American traditions are available on disc.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "cstaroperator"
> Greetings, i'm new to this sight. I'm a musician, I play Flute, Sax,
> I wish to know more about the Pygmy one not flute ensembles. This is
> the stuff that inspired Herby Hancock on the song Watermellon man.
> The technique involves alternating singing and blowing.