The songs known by this name are sung by a single man or by a small group. Ururirimbo singing is that which best translates calm, subtle feelings. Its themes are prolific and its text is always constructed in poetic form. Ntahokaja observes a resemblance between ururirimbo singing and plainchant: clarity of melody and absence of chromaticism.
Within this category of indirimbo singing, the following classification may be proposed:
* kwishongora singing : recitative lyrical declamation, with long phrases: traditionally, songs in praise of the king, princes and other important people of the country. Never danced since the rhythm is free, it concentrates on the quality of the text, presented as a lyrical poem. In general, the song is sung by one person but there may be occasions when some parts of the song are sung in chorus;
several other types, including:
* igitito (ibitito) singing: sung legend or story;
* ikilito (ibilito) singing: evening song, type of elegy interspersed here and there with a highly sentimental lament. A song for young girls during family evenings;
* pastoral singing: pastoral songs can be placed in the category of pastoral eulogies alongside recited poetry (ibicuba, imivovoto, amazina y'inka ). Among these we note: odes sung in honour of herds and rondos sung on returning from transhumance (some of these rondos can be danced). The main themes of these songs are: the breeder and his wealth, happiness and prestige, the usefulness and beauty of his cows, their origin, their fertility, satire directed at apprentice shepherds, etc.;
* war songs: war songs are related to war poetry (amazina y'ubuhizi , amazina hy'urugamba or amatazirano y'ibyivugo), recited in the form of autopanegyric odes;
hunting songs: gukokeza or rousing the hunting dog;
* lullabies: icugumbiro, igihozo ;
* epithalamia or wedding songs;
* chantefables or sung short stories (in prose): sung historical accounts and legends;
* laments and other songs: songs for two alternating choirs, ikimpwiri; post-drinking songs, amayaya, milling songs, indengo;
* modulated greetings: akazihi , agocoya, agahibongozo, akayego;
* incantations: genre associated with the incantatory magic of the past, now sung purely for evening entertainment. The genre may be based on incantatory recitation or declamation, uniquely vocal singing or accompanied by a musical instrument (zither, musical bow). Contexts:
*) pastoral: to beseech the cow to mate, to beg her to give milk, in the Kiranga cult;
for the soothsayer: to beseech fate to give clients or to heal his patient;
*) other songs, not mentioned here, vocal or accompanied by musical instruments.
3) Instrumental music
Among the types described above, some are accompanied by a musical instrument, whether this be the dance song or the type known as ururirimbo. Some instruments may produce instrumental music, not accompanied by voice, while others may be played in a group or as solo instruments.
The main musical instruments are:
a) ingoma drums:
The Burundian drum is made from a piece of tree trunk cut from certain forest species. An adult ox's or cow's skin is stretched over this hollowed-out section of trunk and secured to the wood using wooden pegs. In general, the drum is played with sticks. The drummed rhythms of Burundi differ from those of Rwanda in terms of their rhythms and their more spectacular staging than that of the drums of Rwanda, with a more melodic and generally rigid technique. As in Rwanda, the term ingoma in Burundi has a very wide semantic field; it can refer to percussion drum, ritual drum, dynastic drum, power (royalty or otherwise), reign (or equivalent), government, era, particular country (kingdom). Equally, as in Rwanda, nobody in Burundi could manufacture a drum or have a drum manufactured without a formal order from the king, who alone held the privilege of owning the drums and having them played for himself.
In ancient Burundi, drums were much more than simple musical instruments. As sacred objects, reserved solely for ritualists, they were only played under exceptional circumstances and then always for ritual purposes: the major events of the country were heralded by their beating - coronations, sovereigns' funerals - and, in the joy and fervour of all Burundians, they kept rhythm with the regular cycle of the seasons which ensured the prosperity of the herds and fields.
Nowadays, the drum remains an instrument that is both revered and popular, reserved for national celebrations and distinguished guests. The ancient lineages of drummers have kept their art alive and, in some cases, have had great success in popularizing it around the world (L. Ndoricimpa and C. Guillet, Les tambours du Burundi (The drums of Burundi) 1983: 4).
Royal drums: the palladium karyenda drum, which was only brought from its sanctuary on very rare occasions, particularly during the rites associated with the umuganuro - celebrating the sowing of the sorghum - and its secondant, rukinzo. Some of the tasks of the latter are reminiscent of the indamutsa drum of Rwanda: taking part in the ceremony of the king going to bed and getting up and, generally, marking out the rhythm of the life of the court; also the fact that it was renewed with each change of reign. Note that the rukinzo drum accompanied the king everywhere he went.
The drum sanctuaries
A tight network of mythical high places formed the political, religious and mythical framework of precolonial Burundi. Among these high places we can include the drum sanctuaries. These were properties owned by the mainly Hutu lineages and they alone, with the king's consent, held the privilege of manufacturing, playing and keeping drums and of bringing a certain number to the court on the occasion of the ritual of the umuganuro. These Abatimbo drummers, "those who hit hard", are probably a remnant of the ancient organization of Hutu principalities before the Tutsi conquest of the country. A sacred drum was enthroned in each sanctuary, surrounded by its attendants, the ingendanyi drums, and a set of drums that played for them.
Four examples of sanctuaries:
* Gishora (hill), not far from Gitega: sacred drums kept there: ruciteme (for whom one clears brush) and murimirwa (for whom one ploughs) + maintenance of sacred python in a nearby copse. Lineage of Abanyakisaka drummers;
* the Higiro hill, also not far from Gitega: the sacred inakigabiro (lady of the land) drum. Lineage of the Abashaka drummers;
* Magamba hill: the lineage of the Abazimbura of this sanctuary was responsible for renewing the rukinzo drum with each change of reign;
* Banga: lineage of the Abanyuka and the Abashubi in the service of the nyabuhoro drum (the dispenser of peace).
b) The inanga zither:
The Burundian zither player produces his piece in a low, whispering voice, so as not to mask the tone of his instrument. Apart from the pieces for the inanga, the instrument can accompany indirimbo songs and imvyino dance songs.
c) Other instruments:
the flute: umwironge
calling horns (trumpet, ivory horn, cornet: ikihuha, indoromyi, inzamba
whistle: ifirimbi, ishoro, irango
mouth whistling: kuvuza uruhwa
rectangular rattle: urukayamba
gourd rattle with several acoustic elements: ikinyege (ibinyege)
the iyebe (amayebe) rattle
the inzogera and iyugi (amayugi) bells
the small bell: umudende
the lamellophone: ikembe
hand-clapping: gukoma amashyi
* chordophone with bowed string:
the monochord fiddle: indigiti
the musical bow: idono (indono)