From the court of the Kingdom of Rwanda — abolished nine years later when the Republic was formed: the royal drums and courtly music disappeared along with the Mwami, or ‘king-shepherd’, after five centuries.
In front, trumpet and tenor saxophone, dominated by a wailing alto sound you can trace through to Dudu Pukwana; the bottom end, trombone or tuba or double bass; banjos strumming away; military-style drumming.
1950 and 1952. A variety of dance-band styles, nostalgic, exotic and pioneering all at the same time: pros playing to Europeans in hotels; or enthusiasts, copying the radio, to African audiences.
Two Mangbetu communities from the rainforest, the Mayogo and the Meje: drum ensembles, mass singing, likembe. Also the xylophone and kundi harp of the Azande people; more harp songs by the Balendu.
The roots of marrabenta — compelling guitar-playing, and gritty songs about everyday issues, like having kids, sleeping around, snobbery and the supernatural.
The kalimba is part of the mbira family, a ‘thumb-piano’; the kalumbu is a one-string gourd bow related to the Brazilian berimbau.
Two-thirds from the townships of the copper mines of Katanga Province, showing the early urbanisation of traditional sounds, the guitar taking over the thumb-piano parts.
Luo, Luhya, Kipsigis, Kikuyu, Nandi, Swahili, Wanga and Giriama tribes. Choirs and songs with string accompaniment on guitar, oud, mostly lyres — like the thum, with eight strings, made of cow-tendons.
The bangwe zither, the one-stringed karigo lute, the kubu bow, the kalimba, malipenga gourd-kazoo marching music, choral and polyphonic singing.
Musical interaction between the Mbuti pygmies and the Nande, Bira, Mangbele and Budu peoples living on the edge of the Ituri rainforest in the northeastern Belgian Congo.
From the copper mining towns of Katanga province, within the likembe tradition of the Luba peoples; and from the Zambian Copperbelt, diversely influenced by tradition or by American music from the radio.
Assorted mbira, mouth bows, karimba, story-songs, mulanji flutes, panpipes, drums.
The royal music of the Ganda, Nyoro and Ankole peoples, lost when the palaces were burned down in 1966, and many of the musicians killed, and their instruments (some of them over four hundred years old) destroyed.
Likembe thumb-piano get-togethers, yodels and ekidongo harps, leg-rattles, vocal knees-ups, magwala horn groups, flutes, xylophones and drums.
His fine guitar-picking and upbeat, carefree songs brought George Sibanda from Bulawayo the fame throughout southern Africa — and he was versioned in the US — which drove him to drink and an early grave.
The bangwe board zither, gourd kazoo big bands, tuned likhuba drum ensembles, virtuoso xylophone, a capella singing.
Sena and Ndau mbiras; Shangaan singing, drumming and xylophones; Chopi reedpipes and timbila xylophone orchestras, little girls playing ocarinas; Gitonga drums and singing horns.
Ligombo and nanga trough zithers, lamellophones, drumming, a flute requiem, Zanzibar grooves, a panpipe ensemble, a makondere horn band.
Six hundred Chagga singing on the slopes of Mt. Meru; one hundred Gogo on the plains near Dodoma. Funny songs by the Nyamwezi in Dar-es-Salaam; wigasha dance songs by the Sukuma near Lake Victoria; Masai chants.
Mostly unaccompanied singing; also with musical bows — just knockout, some of the most beautiful music there is — flutes, and guitars and concertinas.
A sampler of the series, with six bonus tracks from a 1952 session by Jean Bosco Mwenda.
Singing, amongst ditlhaka reedpipes, and the lesiba mouth bow.