rachelnguyen wrote:I don't know anything about the so called 'bush telegraph' but I do know that drums are used as a sort of communication. We all know there are certain rhythms for particular purposes. For example, Madan is a wedding song. My teacher has told me that back before cell phones, if you heard Madan being played, you knew there was a wedding going on and you would go.
Yes, I agree, that's a form of communication, albeit a very simple one, and not like spoken language. The information content of the signal is too low to convey information of the complexity (or anywhere near it) that can be conveyed by speaking.
As to djembes having their own language... I know there are certain phrases that are used as insults, for example. Drummers raz one another by playing them. I can never remember what they are, though.... which might be a good thing, LOL.
I've come across that too, as well as "calling" another drummer by playing a certain phrase. However, that's not a language (in the sense of a spoken language or even morse code) because the signal is highly context-dependent. In effect, the drummer being called knows that a session is scheduled round about now anyway, he's been called with that signal before, he knows that he is late, and he probably expects to hear it
(I've witnessed this several times in the past, specifically when Bangourake was calling Sibo at the start of a session…)
I think that it is particularly common for folks to impose their own interpretations on other cultures.
Yes. Perception bias, and preconceived notions can seriously get in the way. Your propaganda example is an excellent one!
At any rate, talk of the djembe being used a communication device along the lines of a telephone is nonsense. There is no such thing in Malinke tradition for as least as far back as we have records. It also seems unlikely that any such thing existed prior to colonialisation. That's based on the assumption that, once people have a means of instant and remote communication, it is so useful they are highly unlikely to stop using it. (Speculation on my part, yes, I know…)