Pygmies – What are they?
Pygmie –an outsider term applied to social groups found in the equatorial forest areas.
turi Forest, bordering on Uganda and Sudan, remains a major stronghold for Pygmies (40k).

We will focus on life and music in their forest home.

Pygmies – Life and Music
Cooperation rather than competition
Egalitarianism, consensus, and unity

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Nomadic existence
Ownership of goods and property is minimal

All this influences their musical activities.

Vocal music is at the core of musical life
Most important is singing for collective ceremonies and occasions

Pygmies – Musical Characteristics (1of2)



Hocket techniques – Interlocking pitches between two or more sound sources to create a single melody or part.


Density – created by layered simultaneous singing of individual variations of the basic melodic parts

Pygmies – Musical Characteristics (2of2)
But once a musical performance is in motion, musical roles and leadership may shift, and different voices may move in and out of the background.

Reflects the specific egalitarian nature of social and economic life

Pygmies – Spiritual
Communication with the spirit world.

Pygmies believe they cannot see, truly comprehend, or give a single name to God.

Forest = benevolent provider of their lives and livelihood
However, they associate divinity with the forest
Basically good but that misfortunes caused by the forest sleeping.

Ceremonies for the forest

Communicating with the divine occurs primarily through musical sound – not words. Music provides a more direct mode of relating to and representing God
Song texts are kept to a minimum