Bákini En El Nuevo Mundo: Drumming to Honor the Divine

in Music/The Café by

Drumming is the heartbeat of God. Since ancient times, people from all over the world and from many cultures have used drumming to heal themselves, to meditate, to celebrate life, and to become one with the divine. To highlight this spiritual connection, Bákini, an ongoing project led by masterful musicians Michael Spiro and Joe Galvin, use this tie as a basis for complex suites based on a range of Afro-Cuban rhythms, expanding the rich colors of traditional drums and percussion with everything from cello to marimba.

The masterful work honors the spiritual forces and artful technique of Cuba’s Afro-diasporic heritage. Spiro and Galvin have worked closely with Arará practitioners, and the album features some rhythms that have only been taught to new students in recent years, originally kept secret among spiritual leaders. Primarily featuring Afro-Cuban instruments, familiar voices such as marimba and cello also appear – and Jesus Díaz leads a select group of singers through it all. Beginning with traditional sounds wrapping up with a strong contemporary suite, Bakini is sure to take you on a journey. Enclave talked briefly about Bákini and its meaning with Spiro and Galvin.


Marlena Fitzpatrick: What does Bákini mean?

Michael Spiro: Bákini basically means “the act of playing drums” in the Lucumi tradition.

Marlena Fitzpatrick: Why is this considered an experiment for the elders and how does it relate to the divine/ spiritual world?

Joe Galvin: Bákini: En El Nuevo Mundo takes both sacred and secular folkloric music from several cultures and recombines them in innovative ways while still honoring the elder drummers and singers of those traditions. The sacred elements refers to the music that acts as the foundation for these new arrangements. The songs and rhythms come from many faiths and religions found throughout the Americas, including Afo-Cuban Lucumi, Arará, and Bantú, all combined and presented in new ways.

Marlena Fitzpatrick: Can you explain the religion(s) depicted in “Los Muñequitos”?

Michael Spiro: The coro of the song “Los Munequitos” is a religious song from the Arará tradition in Cuba that comes from Benin, Africa ( but I’m confused how a song title “describes” something as religious). In any case–the religions that the music on this record represents are all African based theologies that were to brought to Cuba during the slave trade of the 19th century. They are all polytheistic religions, and music (drumming and singing) and dance are an essential component of them, as each deity has his or her own specific rhythms, songs, and dance movements.

Marlena Fitzpatrick: Aside of Spanish, what other languages the album cover?

Michael Spiro: Lukumi (the Cuban version of the Yoruba language), Bantu, Arará, and Portuguese.

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