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Boucarabou (musical instrument)

The 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 cow hide.

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 drum configurations.

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 group.

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