Burru is an Ashanti-Jamaican style of drumming. This style of drumming originated in West Africa, and later moved to the Caribbean as a result of the slave trade. On the slave plantations, the slave masters permitted its continuance as it provided a rhythm for the slaves to work by. "Burru" originates from the Twi word "Bru" meaning to "ravage"; "strike" or "destroy", "burru" in Jamaican patois also refers to an individual that is a "ruffian". This was possibly an insult from one Twi speaking slave or Coromantee (an archaic British term to refer to Twi speaking Akan slaves from the inland above the Gold Coast) to another. This derived from an Ashanti style drum called Aburukuwa that is cylindrical in shape, also called "burru" drum in Jamaica.[1] It has been used in reggae music, popularised by Count Ossie and also used by artists such as Bob Marley.[2]

How Burru is used

This style of drumming has been used in many ways over the years. Burru drumming was known as a more aggressive form of drumming, due to the loud and hard beats. However, In West Africa Burru was used more as a form of expression, and would frequently be used in arrangements called, talking drums . On beat one drummer would, "call" and one would, "answer" similar to a conversation between two or more people.[3] Call and response can be observed in almost all African rooted music. Three types of drums were used in most arrangements. They consisted of funde, repeater, and bass drum.[4] All three drums had very important roles. The bass drum carried the rhythm, the fundeh added syncopation, and the repeater brought in the melody. Occasionally, lyrics would be incorporated as well into songs. They would still follow the "call" and "response" format.[5]


  1. ^ Murrell, Nathaniel Samuel (1998). Chanting Down Babylon: The Rastafari Reader. Temple University Press.
  2. ^ Moskowitz, David (2006). Caribbean Popular Music. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 46.
  3. ^ "Burru". www.springvillage.org. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  4. ^ "douglasewart.com - Nyahbingi Drum". douglasewart.com. Retrieved 2020-10-29.
  5. ^ Author, Guest (2019-02-11). "Burru, Afro-Jamaican Djembe Rhythm with Joakim Lartey @ Tribal Rhyhtm Gathering 2018". Didge Project. Retrieved 2020-10-29.