National Geographic : 1951 Aug
Prime Minister -> Listens to Earphone Magic Words cannot describe the intensity of African music, but hundreds of rec ords collected by the author are now making its quali ties known. Visiting Ouagadougou, Capital of the Upper Volta, / Mr. Alberts made record ings in the adobe palace of the Moro Naba, emperor of the Mossi tribe. When the magnetized tape played back its frozen music, the court was almost speechless with astonish ment. Even the emperor (right), clad in his state Srobes, was amazed, though he had a Paris education. Here Mrs. Alberts (left) makes the recording. Four violinists play in concert. The Americans felt smothered in the 130 ° tem perature in the palace's shade. Their hosts, wrap ped in layers of wool and silk, seemed comfortable. 270 Drum and Violin Praise the Emperor A Ouagadougou's gourd drums, strong and majestic, were so deeply vibrant they gave the author the sensa tion of a blow in the solar plexus. Using hands as drum sticks, this musician beats out the rhythm on an im perial drum. A goatskin is stretched tightly across the open end. The black circle, a thickened area, provides a second tone. Variable-pitch, hour glass drums fill in with quicker rhythms. - The palace virtuoso bows a kind of single-string rebec directly related to in struments found in Egyp tian tombs. Its music, un like that of other West African instruments, seems Oriental, especially when blended with Arabic songs of the palace vocalists. Orchestra and chorus de vote most of their efforts to booming out praise for their emperor (opposite). The Mossi boast descent from a Nile River people. They are tall, thin, and long-headed; whereas their jungle neighbors are short, stocky, and round-headed.