Science: Drum Telegraphy

Any pulp writer worth his salt knows that when his locale is darkest Africa he can't use too many drums. In a good standard plot, talking drums warn fierce natives of the unsuspecting white man's approach while the reader shudders. Last week in Natural History Dr. Albert Irwin Good, who understands Bulu and related African dialects, published the first popular article on the linguistics of drums, the complicated telegraphy whereby African drummers talk across the jungle.

Dr. Good lived for many years in South Cameroons, West Africa as a Presbyterian missionary. Drum thumping...

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