Music of Burundi

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Burundi is a Central African nation that is closely linked with Rwanda, geographically, historically and culturally. The drum such as the karyenda is one of central importance. Internationally, the country has produced the music group Royal Drummers of Burundi.

Burundi country in Africa

Burundi, officially the Republic of Burundi, is a landlocked country amid the African Great Lakes region where East and Central Africa converge. The capital is Gitega, having moved from Bujumbura in February 2019. The southwestern border is adjacent to Lake Tanganyika.

Rwanda Country in Africa

Rwanda, officially the Republic of Rwanda, is a country in Central and East Africa and one of the smallest countries on the African mainland. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Rwanda is in the African Great Lakes region and is highly elevated; its geography is dominated by mountains in the west and savanna to the east, with numerous lakes throughout the country. The climate is temperate to subtropical, with two rainy seasons and two dry seasons each year.


The karyenda is a traditional African drum. It was the main symbol of Burundi and its mwami (kings) and had semi-divine status. The mwami was said to interpret the beatings of the karyenda into rules for the kingdom.


Burundian-Belgian musicians like Éric Baranyanka from the Burundese royal family, Ciza Muhirwa and, especially, Khadja Nin, have more recently gained prominence. Since the music is from the mind and soul, it mainly expresses what the people in Burundi feel and what they think when they beat the drums.

Khadja Nin Burundian musician

Khadja Nin is a Burundian singer and musician.

One feature of Burundian men's folk songs is the presence of an inanga , a type of stringed zither. [1]

Inanga (instrument) Traditional musical instrument

Inānga is a traditional musical instrument of Burundi that is also played in Rwanda and Uganda. In Burundi, it is considered to be the first instrument to be invented in the country.

Other instruments include: [2]

A lamella is a small plate or flake, from the Latin, and may also be used to refer to collections of fine sheets of material held adjacent to one another, in a gill-shaped structure, often with fluid in between though sometimes simply a set of 'welded' plates. The term is used in biological and engineering contexts, such as filters and heat exchangers. The microscopic structures in bone and nacre are lamellae in the materials science sense of the word.

Burundi beat

The so-called Burundi beat, distinctive drumming created by Burundi's tribal musicians, and recorded by French anthropologists, was used to create music by English pop bands Adam and the Ants and Bow Wow Wow. [3]

Adam and the Ants English rock band

Adam and the Ants were an English rock band active during the late 1970s and early 1980s. The group, which lasted from 1977 to 1982, existed in two incarnations, both fronted by Adam Ant. The first, founded in May 1977 and known simply as The Ants until November that year, achieved considerable cult popularity during the transition from the punk rock era to the post-punk and new wave era, and were noted for their high camp and overtly sexualised stage performances and songs. The final line-up of this first incarnation – Dave Barbarossa, Matthew Ashman and Leigh Gorman – left the band in January 1980 at the suggestion of then-de facto manager Malcolm McLaren, to form the instrumentalist personnel of the controversial Bow Wow Wow.

Bow Wow Wow English new wave band

Bow Wow Wow are an English new wave band, created by manager Malcolm McLaren in 1980. McLaren recruited members of Adam and the Ants to form the band behind 13-year-old Annabella Lwin on vocals. They released their debut EP Your Cassette Pet in 1980, and had their first UK top 10 hit with "Go Wild in the Country" in 1982. The band's music was characterized by a danceable new wave sound that drew on a Burundi beat provided by Dave Barbarossa on drums, as well as the suggestive lyrics squealed into the mic by their teenage lead vocalist.

Further reading

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

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  1. "World Instrument Gallery". 2002-05-01. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  2. "Traditional Music Instruments in Burundi". Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  3. "THE POP LIFE; LATEST BRITISH INVASION: 'THE NEW TRIBALISM'". 1981-11-25. Retrieved 2015-11-09.