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Gourd Drums or Water Drum

Similar to the jicara de agua from Mexico, the Na’vi gourd drum is created by filling a gourd bowl with water and placing an inverted half gourd in the water. The inverted gourd is struck with one wooden drum stick. (Read more)
A unique element of this drum is an additional smaller drum inserted into a hole cut in the side of the large gourd bowl. This drum is covered with a sturmbeest bladder, a material known for its strength and elasticity. While tapping on the inverted gourd, the player pushes on the bladder, which causes the water level in the gourd bowl to rise, causing the pitch of the drum to change subtly.

When played for social dances and songs, the small gourd drum plays typical Na’vi dance rhythms. Pitch changes are optional.

The playing style for the gourd drum in the context of the Dream Hunt is entirely different. A constant rapid tapping of the drum (a sound reminiscent of the ancient peyote songs of Native Americans in the southwest) while simultaneously pushing the bladder in and out creates a drone-like sound with microtonal fluctuations in pitch. This is related to the microtonal drone heard in the men’s part of Na’vi banquet songs, thought to represents the spirit of Eywa, and enhances the connection of the Dream Hunters to Eywa. (See related article on Na’vi social songs.)

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