Sudan: Music of the Blue Nile Province: The Gumuz Tribe

LABELS: Unesco
ALBUM TITLE: Unesco Collection


The rest of the issues here sample a series of UNESCO collections made over several decades. They are scrupulously chosen and explained, some pretty specialist, but all abounding in the real thing. Widest in their appeal will be the African issues.

As you follow the different sizes and shapes of lyre around Ethiopia and Sudan, their tone running from sombre, reflective buzz to energetic strumming, there’s hardly a drum in earshot. The two-disc Sudanese tribal mini-tour features astonishing ensembles of gourd trumpets and flutes with rather unvaried textures from the Ingessana and Berta.


It’s the Gumuz who were persuaded to share the most varied and exciting performances, with blown gourds, Indian-style double-ended drums and gleefully ululating women. They climax with songs and dances from one of those occasions where the entire population joins in. Really you get only the half of it if you can’t see as well as hear. But for anybody who has had the luck to encounter a real village celebration, this will conjure up the missing sensory input: the smiles, the smells, the full, irresistible works.