Air Force band adds Maldivian folk to their mix


Royal Australian Air Force Band members have added Maldivian folk music to their repertoire following a week-long collaboration with their counterparts from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

The two bands combined musical talents to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Maldives at a reception in the capital city, Malé.

The unique sound blend was further enriched by RAAF didgeridoo player Flight Lieutenant James Evans, who played along to the beat of traditional Maldivian Bodu Beru drumming.

The seven members of the RAAF Band and Flight Lieutenant Evans were in a contingent visiting the archipelago nation for Australia’s flagship regional engagement activity, Indo-Pacific Endeavour (IPE).

IPE activities during the week also included meetings, workshops and religious engagements with Maldivian counterparts and colleagues.

RAAF Band group leader Corporal Andrew Hammon said the collaboration between the two bands had been both fun and productive.

“This is the first time we’ve played in Maldives so it’s been great learning about their music and instruments,” he said.

“We’ve collaborated with other bands before, but this has been more challenging because it’s a culturally different music tradition.”

One of the unique aspects of Maldivian music is the traditional Bodu Beru drum, known colloquially as ‘the big drum’, used in most festive occasions in the country.

RAAF drummer Corporal Naomi Tan was given the task of learning the instrument and playing it alongside MNDF musicians during the 50-year celebrations.

She said it was a challenging but rewarding experience.

“There is a rhythmic sophistication to their music that marks it from other styles, but the two bands have been collaborating well,” Corporal Tan said.

“It’s something that’s been enjoyable to be a part of.”

Australia’s flagship regional engagement activity returned to the Maldives in January for only the second time, with the archipelago nation also part of the program for IPE 24 later in the year.

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