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Recreational Sphere

Group of Ekurobadze playing instruments out of doors
Bosoe group of Ekurobadze

There exist a cluster of music organizations in Anomabu that are in no way ritually or ceremonially bound to traditional institutions. These recreational groups can gather and perform for no other reason than their members wanting to do so. However, one is most likely to hear such a group in the context of a funeral for a commoner, the group being contracted for the occasion by the family of the deceased. While it is desirable to have a recreational band perform for the wake and funeral of an adult person, the music is not ceremonial in nature nor is the type of music to be performed prescribed–the presence of such a group simply makes the occasion out of the ordinary and allows people in attendance to spontaneously dance their grief. Another context in which recreational bands are heard is the yearly community festival of thanksgiving. For such events these recreational ensembles are just another of many elements contributing to the festive and cacophonous atmosphere of such celebrations.

Recreational groups form around one or a few individuals respected for their musical knowledge. Membership in these groups is open to everyone in the community. While some groups perform styles of music for mixed membership, several styles require either all female or all male singers–drummers, however, are always men, even in otherwise all female groups. Although some groups stay in existence for several generations, most of them have a more transient existence, both because styles of recreational music come into and go out of fashion, and because groups might break up as a result of personality clashes or for lack of funds to repair damaged drums. During my year in Anomabu, there were about a half dozen active recreational bands to be found, another inactive one (due to the disrepair of their drums), and yet another that had recently disbanded. Several of the satellite villages in the Anomabu Traditional Area supported one or a few recreational groups, a few of which are represented below.

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