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Nyabinghi Drumming


Definition: Nyabinghi drumming is a style of ritual drumming performed as a communal meditative practice in the Rastafarian religion in Jamaica. Like many facets of Rastafarianism, it takes its name from an Eastern African root; in this case, the name of a goddess, and also the cult that worshiped her. A strict sect of Rastafarianism took the name Nyabinghi, and the name of the drumming style came from that, though not all Nyabinghi drummers are members of the Nyabinghi sect.

Nyabinghi drumming is performed on three main drums, the bass (the lowest drum), the funde (a middle-pitched drum), and the akete (the highest-pitched drum). The bass strikes the first and third beats, the funde plays a one-two beat, and the akete plays syncopated, improvised rhythms, generally with multiple drummers playing "conversationally" between themselves. These rhythms match up with the basic rhythms of ska and reggae music, and not by coincidence - early ska visionaries, such as The Skatalites, were influenced by the sounds of nyabinghi drumming.
Pronunciation: NYE-uh-BIN-gee (with a hard "g")
Alternate Spellings: nyabingi, nyahbingi
View a short documentary featuring Nyabinghi drumming on YouTube (warning: the clip features contextual discussion of marijuana, as it pertains to Rastafarianism, in which it is a sacrament)
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