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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 March, 2005, 11:02 GMT
House of the Baka Beyond
Baka Beyond
The group combine the Baka's music with strong Celtic influences
An African-Celtic crossover band inspired by the music of a pygmy community in West Africa has celebrated the construction of a special "music house" with their latest album.

The Baka pygmies of southern Cameroon are hunter-gatherers. They lent their name and music to Baka Beyond, a multi-ethnic group founded by guitarist Martin Craddock in 1992.

Their latest project has been to build a "music house" for the Baka, paid for by royalties the band owed the community for their influences and music.

The title of the group's latest album, The Rhythm Tree, refers to this project.

"It was all out of this one tree," Craddock told BBC World Service's Outlook programme.

"They all use these trees - they beat on the buttress roots as the bass drum. So we called the album the Rhythm Tree."

Controversial project

Craddock set up Baka Beyond after hearing their music on a visit to Cameroon in 1992.

He played with them at the time and found he was "very inspired."

The group is now highly multi-cultural - it includes musicians from Sierra Leone, Senegal, the UK and France.

Baka Beyond
The Baka are finding that instead of being hunters, they are now becoming poachers - through absolutely no fault of their own
Martin Craddock
Meanwhile, the Music House has now become a centre for the Baka pygmies - and for people wishing to meet with them.

Journalists, for example, had been able to interview the Baka there to find out about the effect of a controversial World Wildlife Fund project.

"The WWF are working with four governments - Gabon, Congo, and the Central African Republic, as well as Cameroon - and they're trying to set up a big park system," Craddock explained.

"They're having to make the laws the same in all the countries, and it's a bit difficult because the WWF, up to now, haven't accepted that there are people living within the park zone - they have only asked the Bantu population, who are all farmers, so all the boundaries are set up around the farms.

"Now the Baka are finding that instead of being hunters, they are now becoming poachers - through absolutely no fault of their own."

Since forming Baka Beyond, Craddock has returned to Cameroon nine times - several in the last three years.

"The last few times, we've been building quite a lot," he added.

"The last time, I got out and did a lot more recording."

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