Airdate: Jul 12, 2018
Scientist: Tom Miller
Mangbetu women use snail shells as percussion instruments. This archival program is part of our 30th anniversary celebration.
Shell MusicMangbetu music Celebrating three decades of Pulse of the Planet, here's a program from our archives.We're listening to music of the Mangbetu people of northeastern Zaire. Mangbetu women use snail shells as percussion instruments. It's symbolic of a culture that derives most of its resources from its surroundings. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Tom Miller is with the American Museum of Natural History's Department of Anthropology. Miller: The peoples of northeastern Zaire maintain a close relationship with their environment, and this is reflected in every aspect of their lives. In the musical instruments they play which are made out of the materials in the forest or the savanna where they live, it's reflected in their ceremonies in which they invoke the healing powers of nature, and in their medicines which are drawn from plants and their medicinal properties. The sounds in the people's music reflect the materials that are available to them in their environment for making instruments. So, the relationship of the people to its environment can actually be heard in the types of materials that they play music on. Miller says that this strong sense of connection with nature may have helped preserve the Mangbetu's cultural identity in the face of contact with the outside world. This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.