Boucarabou (alternative spelling bougarabou) is a set
of 3 to 4 drums commonly used in Gambia as well as the
rest of West Africa. The drums are single headed with
an elongated goblet shape, usually placed on a single
stand and the end is covered in
Traditionally only one Boucarabou was played at
a time, but in more modern times, possibly influenced
by modern western music, players now perform on multiple
The drum is originally from the Jola people in Casamance,
Senegal as well as the Gambia, and is normally played
solo, by a single drummer. The drummer also wears a
series of metal bracelets that contribute to the sound,
and the dancers often clap and sing with the music,
but it is unique in that a single drummer traditionally
provides the drumming. One of the most eminent performers
of this instrument is Saikouba Badjie.
They are normally played with only the hands in a standing
position. They have a full, deep, rich sound which can
be heard for miles and is effective at all dynamic levels.
They produce a kind of bass melody in the total rhythm.
In other modern drumming configurations, they are often
used to back up the djembe and tama in a percussion
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