Located at the northern end of the Mozambique channel, and at the eastern edge of the Bantu linguistic area, the Comoros are at a unique cultural and musical crossroads. Involved in the western Indian Ocean trade for over a thousand years, the islands have absorbed cultural and musical influences from East Africa, the Middle East, Madagascar, and southern India. As a result there is a remarkably wide range of musical styles in the Comoros: solo and choral, through composed and stanzaic, improvised and rehearsed, accompanied and acapella.
Contemporary Artists in the Islands and in Europe have been utilizing traditional sounds and themes and putting them in a modern idiom to produce some very interesting music.
Traditional instruments include gongs, drums, tambourines, rattles, oboes, zithers, and five-stringed lutes. The musical example below is a zither-and-rattle selection that was once typical of social events such as womens' wedding dances. It was performed by Shirontro, a fisherman from Domoni who was a well-known singer and instrumentalist.
Music Sample (401K .wav file).
You can hear more traditional music
on the CD, Music of the Comoro Islands: Domoni. Recorded by Harriet and Martin Ottenheimer.
Available from Smithsonian Folkways Records FE 4243. Tel: 1-888-365-5929
Another collection is: Comores: Musiques traditionnelles de l'ile d'Anjouan, a CD from INEDIT, Paris, (1) 45 44 72 30.
Some CDs of contemporary Comorian music are:
Click here to go to a site with Comorian music videos.
Listen to music from the islands on Radio Domoni.