Since ancient times, human beings have used music to express themselves, its melody seduces man, drives away sadness, attracts good luck and is capable of calming the most bloodthirsty of beasts.
So much so that Greek mythology relates that only musical instruments could defeat Cancerbero, the three-headed dog that guarded the gates of the underworld.
Our African ancestors used different rhythms in religious rituals, through this act they venerated their gods who, as a reward, allowed them the fortune of having good harvests, winning battles and the happiness of being unharmed before the arrival of the disease.
Since ancient times, a group of drums were responsible for communicating the Africans with the Orishas, which we know today under the name of Batá drums, these had their origins in the Nigerian land.
What is a Batá Drum?
Curiously, the name Batá translates into Spanish as drum. This is a means of communication between man and saint.
As it is sacred within the religion, it must then be made with a natural material, in other words, with elements that have had vital energy, because in this way the wood has the touch of the Orisha Ozain, owner of all herbs and mother nature.
Synthetic raw materials should not be used in its manufacture.
It is a wooden drum that has two cones made of goatskin or another type of leather, these membranes have different diameters, which is why it is considered a bimembranophone instrument.
The parts by themselves have no value, together they are a strong musical dumbbell that makes the senses vibrate, allowing the santeros to enter a trance and lower the Orisha through them.
The Batá It has an hourglass design, being thicker at its ends and tuned in the center, this shape not only allows a better grip for the percussionist, since it also favors sonic acoustics.
The Batá are three sister instruments
The Batá drums They are the members of a family of three consecrated instruments that differ in size: Iyá is the biggest and biggest of all, followed by Itótele the medium and finally Okónkolo, the small drum.
These are añaGive bells, ribbons, beads and shells elements that personalize the instrument and its musician.
What does this musical instrument represent in Santeria?
The drum represents unity and family, so much so that drummers refer to feeling these as part of their own body.
They owe them respect and dedication, once a man is consecrated in this doctrine he acquires an unbreakable commitment to the ancestors and the Orishas.
Who play the Batá?
To play a Batá drum you have to be worthy of it. It is necessary to have knowledge about the Yoruba Religion, it is necessary to have been initiated in the Osha rule and later consecrated for this activity. This privilege is fundamentally masculine.
The secret of the Drum
The Batá family is also called Omóaña, the drums that have been consecrated are named Añá, while those that have not yet been blessed are known as Ilú.
The larger drums are in charge of establishing the conversation with the Orisha while the smaller one is responsible for setting the pace of the conversation.
The religious in charge of playing the Iyá is called Olubatá, he must have experience since this is the main Batá.
The bataleros and their sacred mission
The bataleros, the name by which its percussionists are known, owe to the drums great devotion and respect, the blow on the membrane of the hourglass must come from the heart and be transmitted through the palm of the hand, since they have the bring the Orishas down to earth.
As the Bata means union, each drum must be made with a single piece of wood, an essential requirement that guarantees its later usefulness.
The Batá drums in the Rule of Osha
When an iyawó is going to be presented to the drum, it must be inside the enclosure where the ceremony is going to be held before the Omó arrives.aña otherwise you will not be able to participate in it.
The iyawoses They offer a game of drums to the guardian angel of their godmother and their Oyugbona as a symbol of respect for their elders.
The Omoañas are considered inseparable since to be effective they must be played in unison, together they pay tribute to the favorite melodies of the Orishas in search of obtaining their pleasure, health and development.