Congo – Honey Song

music: Mbuti honey song


In the Ituri rainforest of central Africa, there’s a certain magical time of the year when the trees flower all at once. It’s not a season that happens every year, and it can’t be predicted. But when it comes, you can hear the forest break out into song. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. John Hart is a senior scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society. Over the past twenty years, he has studied and lived among the Mbuti pygmies in the Ituri rainforest.

“Much of their social life is oriented around music and they have a very distinctive style of singing that sets them apart and in fact is one of the most remarkable features of their whole society and their culture. And at the time when the honey is abundant, there are special honey songs. These are songs which both men and women are singing and even a time when certain instruments, particularly clapping sticks, are brought out that otherwise are not used. And especially spectacular is the dancing, the fire dancing, where the young men, with their honey axes, and sometimes carrying honey, baskets will dance in and out of the fire, balancing on large logs while the women around them are singing and, buzzing like bees, will fan up the sparks and covering them with sparks, and whoever can dance the longest in the flames is widely acclaimed. All the time singing, everyone singing. So as part of the great joy at the honey season is the fire dancing and the honey songs, where you can sometimes even hear the buzzing of the bees, especially the women imitating the buzzing of the bees in the chorus.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

Congo - Honey Song

When the trees burst into bloom in Africa's Ituri rainforest, the pygmies celebrate with a special syncopated song.
Air Date:10/19/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:

music: Mbuti honey song


In the Ituri rainforest of central Africa, there's a certain magical time of the year when the trees flower all at once. It's not a season that happens every year, and it can't be predicted. But when it comes, you can hear the forest break out into song. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont. John Hart is a senior scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society. Over the past twenty years, he has studied and lived among the Mbuti pygmies in the Ituri rainforest.

"Much of their social life is oriented around music and they have a very distinctive style of singing that sets them apart and in fact is one of the most remarkable features of their whole society and their culture. And at the time when the honey is abundant, there are special honey songs. These are songs which both men and women are singing and even a time when certain instruments, particularly clapping sticks, are brought out that otherwise are not used. And especially spectacular is the dancing, the fire dancing, where the young men, with their honey axes, and sometimes carrying honey, baskets will dance in and out of the fire, balancing on large logs while the women around them are singing and, buzzing like bees, will fan up the sparks and covering them with sparks, and whoever can dance the longest in the flames is widely acclaimed. All the time singing, everyone singing. So as part of the great joy at the honey season is the fire dancing and the honey songs, where you can sometimes even hear the buzzing of the bees, especially the women imitating the buzzing of the bees in the chorus."

Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.