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Drum Languages Project

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Welcome to the website of the Drum Languages Project at Utrecht University!

In some African cultures, drumming is used for expressing linguistic meanings. Our researchfocuses on the Senegalese drum language — Sabar, and on the speech surrogacy of the bàtá and dùndún drums of the Yoruba people of Nigeria. The project combines a systematic grammatical study and a series of extensive linguistic and musicological tests, examining drummers’ merged language-music competence. 

Our research is expected to lead to a better understanding of the drum languages and contribute to the under-studied linguistic-musical heritage in general. Moreover, our project aims at giving African drummers and their art international visibility and recognition. We also work on providing an Yoruba drum language educational program in Nigerian primary schools, helping to promote endangered cultural heritage.

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This work is a part of the NWO-project no. 360-89-060 “When language has a beat”