Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Peter Manuel

Committee Members

Benjamin Lapidus

Janette Tilley

David Font-Navarrete

Subject Categories

Ethnomusicology | Music Performance | Music Practice | Music Theory | Other Music


Batá Drumming, Afro-Cuban Music, Music Analysis, Rhythm, Santería, Orichas


This dissertation consists of a musical analysis of Afro-Cuban batá drumming. Current scholarship focuses on ethnographic research, descriptive analysis, transcriptions, and studies on the language encoding capabilities of batá. However, this artistically sophisticated tradition demands a more in-depth study of its musical manufacture. Drawing from experience as a ritual batá player and as an oricha priest, I have completed the current study by following three primary analytical modalities: (1) sonic landscape, which encompasses: sound vocabulary, form, individual drum parts, and balance of musical elements; (2) timbral design, how the different batá sounds articulate meaningful and functionally distinguishable structures; (3) the rhythmic construction of batá music. For my research, I have surveyed professional, educational, and field recordings for transcriptions and aural analysis. Besides, I have looked at existing transcriptions and incorporated theoretical models for how this music unfolds through time and space. This paper emphasizes the importance of musical processes as a crucial element in the articulation of meaningful structures in Afro-Cuban batá. Furthermore, it situates its findings within the broader field of theoretical analysis of Sub-Saharan African drum ensemble music.