The Death of the King of Bandjoun is a 40‑minute long madrigal comedy for three percussionists, speakers, recorded material and projection.
The form is borrowed from Orazio Vecchi's 1597 madrigal comedy L'Amfiparnaso, but the musical material recalls the sounds of rural Cameroon.
The Death of the King of Bandjoun was premiered in April 2006 at the Kees van Baarenzaal in The Hague by the Mexican percussion ensemble Ear Massage.
The king of Bandjoun, a city-state in Cameroon, has died of a mysterious illness away from his country. This is a disgrace for the city. The explanation might lie in Cameroon's unique mix of local politics and witchcraft.
There is no linear plot: the story is delivered in 18 short episodes consisting of ambiguous omens and rumors.
The piece requires an anvil, wood blocks, a temple block, a conga, a plastic bag, castanets, claves, a thunder sheet, crash cymbals, maracas, a xylophone, a timpani, a bass drum, a ratchet, a Jew's harp, a glass filled with eight AA batteries, a snare drum, a flexatone, a suspended cymbal, a thumb piano on a shoebox full of bottle caps and an amplified bucket filled with water.