Carlos Aldama's Life in Batá: Cuba, Diaspora, and the Drum

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Indiana University Press, 2012 - Music - 179 pages
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Bat identifies both the two-headed, hourglass-shaped drum of the Yoruba people and the culture and style of drumming, singing, and dancing associated with it. This book recounts the life story of Carlos Aldama, one of the masters of the bat drum, and through that story traces the history of bat culture as it traveled from Africa to Cuba and then to the United States. For the enslaved Yoruba, bat rhythms helped sustain the religious and cultural practices of a people that had been torn from its roots. Aldama, as guardian of Afro-Cuban music and as a Santer a priest, maintains the link with this tradition forged through his mentor Jesus P rez (Oba Ilu), who was himself the connection to the preserved oral heritage of the older generation. By sharing his stories, Aldama and his student Umi Vaughan bring to light the techniques and principles of bat in all its aspects and document the tensions of maintaining a tradition between generations and worlds, old and new. The book includes rare photographs and access to downloadable audio tracks.


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The Drum Speaks
1 Fundamento
2 Learning My Trade
3 Batá in the Revolution
4 Diaspora
5 Drum Lesson
6 The Future What Comes Next?
The Drum Speaks Again
Track List

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About the author (2012)

Carlos Aldama is omo A (sworn to the drum) and a priest of Chang in the Santer a religion. Born in Havana, he was a founding member of Conjunto Folkl rico Nacional de Cuba, studying under its original musical director, Jesus P rez (Oba Ilu), and later serving as musical director himself. He has worked with the National Symphony of Cuba, playwright Roberto Blanco, and Karl Marx Theatre director Alex Valdez, and has performed with Adalberto Alvarez y su Son, Lazaro Ros and Olor n, and Gonzalo Rubalcaba.

Umi Vaughan is also omo A and is a priest of Ochun in the Santer a religion. He is an artist and anthropologist who explores dance, creates photographs and performances, and publishes about African Diaspora culture. He is Associate Professor of Africana Studies at California State University, Monterey Bay, and author of Rebel Dance, Renegade Stance: Timba Music and Black Identity in Cuba. To learn more visit

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