Central Africa in the Caribbean, 9.3



Musical Instrumentation


p. 244 "Congo" drums in Trinidad

"In Trinidad "Congo" dances three drums were used ... . ... they were small, headed on two sides with goatskin and slapped with the hand. Two kept rhythm. To keep rhythm was to bula ... or to ful ... . One drum "cut", or provided syncopation."

p. 244 "Congo" drums in Guyana

"In Guyana, the Mungola drum, that is, 'drum from Angola', was ... small, headed on both sides ... . ... The drums could be covered with goat, deer or

crab-dog skin, the latter {last} being the thinnest of the three types."

{named for Crab the hound in Shakespeare's play Two Gentlemen of Verona} {but actually is "the Koupara of Guiana ... identical with the Procyon, or Ursus canevorus, the Raton crabier, or crab-eating Aquaraguaza of the Patagonian coast." (ANDL&DC, pp. 99-100; see also VNCSPhC, p. 86)}

ANDL&DC = Alexander von Humboldt (transl. by Mrs. Sabine) : Aspects of Nature, in Different Lands and Different Climates. Philadelphia : Lea & Blanchard, 1849. http://books.google.com/books?id=Q3IOAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA100&lpg=PA100&dq=

VNCSPhC = Alexander von Humboldt (transl. by Otte' & Bohn) : Views of Nature; or, Contemplations on the Sublime Phenomena of Creation. London : George Bell & Sons, 1902. http://books.google.com/books?id=Xdw-AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA86&lpg=PA86&dq=

p. 244 "Congo" drum in Jamaica

"In Jamaica, the bandu ~ kibandu, or repeater[,] is carved from ... cedar, or trumpet wood. The hollowed wood is then covered at both ends with a stretched ram-goat skin ... . ... The whole instrument is then splashed with sugared water ..., the Kumina "... prayer" [p. 355, n. 9:14 : "from one of the esoteric languages of the Koongo secret religious cults"] is said to sanctify it, and the instrument is then put in the sun to "set". She-goat skin covers the head of the playing cask, which yields a low pulsating rhythm."

p. 245 sat-astride drums : tambu

"In the case of the Jamaican tambu, there are "two drums, one large, with two faces, and another with one face; one man sits astride the larger, and beats it with hands, while another man beats the other side with a stick. The other drum stands on its open end, and is also beaten with hands. ... (Baxter 1970, 195).

The "Congo" dance drum ensemble in Cuba is the yuka, a Vili word meaning 'to beat, strike, hammer'. ... The drummers play the two largest drums by sitting astride the drums, ... leaning the drums on forked poles."

pp. 245-6 clattering of wooden rods beaten together

p. 245

"recordings of Rara {more accurately, /Rada/ < /Arada/, from Dahomey} processional music in southern Haiti ... indicate dominantly an orchestra of stick-on-stick percussion providing the driving rhythm to propell the crowd's forward movement ... . This wood-based percussion

p. 246

is called kwakwa in Trinidad ..., and also in Suriname where, among the Juka Maroons, it is a "flat board of resounding wood ... beaten with a flat wooden paddle" (Kahn 1931, 55)."

Kahn 1931 = Morton Kahn : Djuka : the Bush Negroes of Dutch Guiana. NY : Viking.

pp. 246-7 kalinda-drums

p. 246

"In Martinique kalinda (also spelled caleinda), it [kata] is a drum made of a hollowed-out tree trunk, placed horizontally on a small wooden stand ... .

This recalls the canoi`ta of the Dominican Republic, ... of the "Congo drums" played in the south-east : in Villa Mella, Victoria, Mandinga and San Lorenzo de las Minas. This wooden instrument carries ... a hollowed out longer boat-shaped section. ... (Lizardo 1988, 188-92)"

p. 247

[quoted from Hearn 1890, p. 144 :] "the vibrating string occupies a horizonal position. ... the heel of the naked foot is pressed lightly or vigorously against the skin, so as to produce changes in tone. This is called "giving heel" to the drum. ... The sound of the drum itself, well played, has ... a complicated double roll, with a peculiar billowy rising and falling."

"Elaborating on the vibrating mechanism across the drumhead in Martiniquan kalinda, Hearn explained that "a string is tightly stretched, to which are attached, at intervals of about an inch, ... cut feather stems. These lend a certain vibration to the tones" (p. 143)."

Lizardo 1988 = Fradique Lizardo : Instrumentos musicales folklo`ricos dominicanos. Vol. 1 : "Idio`fonos y membrano`s". Paris : UNESCO; Santo Domingo : Editorial Santo Domingo.

Hearn 1890 = Lafcadio Hearn : Two Years in the French West Indies. NY : Harper & Bro.s.

pp. 248-9 "mounted" (by the player) drums : KUMuNu & KUMiNa

p. 248

"links have been identified between the Kumina rhythms and those of a particular drumming style ... especially common in Kinkenge, in the Manianga [MaNyanga] area" (Bilby and Bunseki 1983, 49) :

[quoted from Bilby & Bunseki 1983, pp. 47-8 :] The Kumunu drumming style very closely parallels Jamaican Kumina drumming. In the Kumunu tradition of the Kongo, two different drums are used, the smaller one called "mwana" ... the larger known as "ngudi" ... the Kongo Kumunu drums are shallow, square frame drums, whereas the Jamaican drums are cylindrical and much deeper; and in Kongo Kumunu the larger drum (ngudi) serves as the leading instrument, in contrast to Jamaican Kumina ... . ... in both traditions the drums are played by being "mounted" --

the players sit down on the drums, which are turned over on their sides ... .

{This ("turned over on their sides") would, however, be hardly possible for "shallow" drums, requiring "much deeper"


And ... the mwana ... of Kongo kumunu and the bandu of Jamaican Kumina -- both function in a similar manner as supporting drums -- always play the same basic pattern (with

p. 249

the pitch altered by the heel on every other group of two beats). Woven on top of this are the complex pattern of the ngudi in Kongo or the playing cas[k] ["kyas ... '... barrel'" (p. 355, n. 9:19)] in Jamaican Kumina."

p. 249 generic terms for 'drum'

"engoma means 'drum' in Cuban Koongo. Ngoma also is 'drum' in Mbundu.

The "Congo" are further credited with bequeathing to Cuba "the conga drum, also known

as mambisa,

tumba, or tumbadora" (Urfe` 1984, 176)."

[p. 355, n. 9:20 "Ortiz ... notes the word [/tumba/] as generic for drum among the Malinke, or Mandinga (1954, 114)."]

Urfe` 1984 = Odilio Urfe` : "Music and Dance in Cuba". In :- Manuel Moreno Fraginals (ed.) (transl. by Leonor Blum) : Africa in Latin America. NY : Holmes & Meier Publ; Paris : UNESCO. pp. 170-88.

Ortiz 1954 = Fernando Ortiz : Los instrumentos de la mu`sica afrocubana. Vol. 4. Havana : Ca`rdenas.

p. 249 bambula-drum

"In the Virgin Islands ..., there also existed the bambula, ... as drum of the "'ka' or 'qua' variety" ... . ... It is laid on the floor to be played, the drummer straddles it; the singer sits

alongside ... . In the Virgin Islands these drums were played by men as well as women.

Bambula referred to "a song and dance festival ...".

[p. 355, n. 9:21 "In Trinidad, during slavery, there was a bambula dance during which, at certain stages, "the dancers stamped, went prostrate and beat the ground ..." (Pearse 1956, 258 fn. 2)."]

The word itself may derive from bambula (Ko) "'to deflect, to transfer in a mysterious way'" (Weeks 1914, 291), suggestive ... of the mystic power of the drum".

Pearse 1956 = Andrew Pearse (ed.) : "Mitto Sampson on Calypso Legends of the Nineteenth Century". CARIBBEAN QUARTERLY 4.3:250-62.

p. 250 bamboo stamping/boom-pipes : dikambo & tambu

"the bamboo stamping tube. In Haiti, it is called ... tikanmbo, ... from Vili dikambo. ... "the closed end is struck sharply upon the ground and the tone comes from the open top. ... Cupped hands are manipulted over the open ends for varying sounds" (Courlander 1960, 196). ... The stamping pipes are called boom-pipes in Jamaica (Lewin 1983, 41-42), quitipas in Venezuela ... .

... the Trinidad tambu bambu ... sections are cut at night, perhaps for spiritual reasons ... .

[quoted from Hill 1976, p. 62 :] The boom or bass bamboo ... was held upright and struck on the ground at an angle to produce a deep, grunting sound".

Lewin 1983 = Olive Lewin : "Traditional Music in Jamaica". CARIBBEAN QUARTERLY 29.1:32-43.

Hill 1976 = Errol Hill : "The Trinidad Carnival". In :- G. S. Me'traux (ed.) : Festival and Carnivals. Paris : UNESCO Pr & la Baconnie`re. pp. 54-86.

p. 252 palm-branches for wake-up call

"In the Kimbisa cult, palm branches ... called matende ... make ... a wake-up call to powers that reside in the earth ... (Leo`n 1974, 70-71)."

{While palm-branches were being waved (Euangelion kata Ioannes 12:13) as wave-offering for Palm Sunday, an ass was being ridden (ibid. 12:14) -- and an ass by braying issued a wake-up call for nymph Lotis (Ovidius : Fasti 1:391 sq).}

Leo`n 1974 = Argeliers Leo`n : Del canto y el tiempo. Havana : Editorial Pueblo y Educacio`n.

pp. 252-5 for funereal rites : friction-drum & glissated zither

p. 252

"the friction drum. Known as the kinfuiti in Cuba, where it is attributed to the Loango, it was once common in the "Congo" cabildos, but it is now limited to some groups in the north of the easterly {read "westerly"} Pin[~]ar del Ri`o province. ... The drum is associated with funeral rites, and

with rites ... in which the spirits of the dead are called forth. ...

[p. 356, n. 9:26 : "Mukana (1979, 144; 1998, 425) indicates that, as "to the kinfwiti, ... the African use of the instrument is for ritual invocations "symbolizing the leopard, the lion, or the mysterious voice from the dead"".]

From inside the drum comes a string, which passes through the

{[myth of the Gogodara in Papua] "Sai`da ... took ... a long string, he hooked it into Darogo's navel. ... .

p. 253

skin, is fastened to a wooden rod, and ...

By ... pulling it towards him,

... Sai`da pulled the string and drew her back to him." ("C-BC-H&HC", p. 378)

he obtains segmented rhythmic combinations ... (Leo`n 1974, 72-73). A comparable drum exists in the Kildonen area of Guyana, in East Coast Essequibo, where

For Sai`da, "Miwasa beat the large spirit-drum dabima." ("C-BC-H&HC", p. 378)

it is called ... "hog" ... on account of the grunt-like resonance it gives. ...

{[myth of the Kiwai in Papua] "Sido transformed himself into a gigantic pig ... so that the pig's backbone and sides formed the house of death, the place where people go when they die." ("MM")}

This type of music is associated with mourning ... .

p. 254

A similar low groaning ... is heard in ... the Conjuncto de San Juan de Curiepe in Venezuela ... from the puya drum ... . The low moan or grunt of the "glissed idiochord zither" is further evidence of Central African presence in Caribbean traditional musics. The zither is called the benta in Jamaica and Curac,ao. ...

p. 255

In today's Jamaica, the benta is used almost exclusively to accompany songs at dinki mini ceremonies in the eastern parishes of St Mary and Portland; these take place in the nights following the death of someone in the community."

Mukana 1979 = Kazadi wa Mukana : Contribuic,ao bantu na mu`sica popular brasileira. Sa~o Paulo : Global Editora.

Mukana 1998 = Kazadi wa Mukana : "... divers elements musicaux africains en Ame`rique Latine". In :- Doudou Die`ne (ed.) : La chai^ne et le lien : une vision de la traite ne'grie`re. Paris : UNESCO. pp. 421-8.

"C-BC-H&HC" = "Culture-Bearers, Culture-Heroes and Hero-Cults". In :- Alfred Cort Haddon : Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Strait. Cambridge Univ Pr, 1935. pp. 374-409. http://books.google.com/books?id=XpMczQt7_BgC&pg=PA378&lpg=PA378&dq=

"MM" = "Melanesian Mythology". http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Le-Me/Melanesian-Mythology.html

{In this myth, the name /MIwASa/ is similar to that of /MInOS/, so that

Darogo (whom Sai`da lent to Miwasa and "gave Miwasa permission to sleep with her" -- "C-BC-H&HC", p. 378) = Prokris (who upon being abandoned by Kephalos cohabited briefly with Minos -- GM 89.e); and

Saider/Sider (who caused Kobai to make his hair "into long ringlets" -- "C-BC-H&HC", p. 376) = Kephalos (who caused that the hair of Pterelaos be plucked -- GM 89.i). The meaning of /kephalos/ is 'head', and "Meuri cut off Sido's head." The decapitated head of Sido "was turned into a deep well which still exists" ("PPTS", p. 196) : cf. the decapitated head of god Mi`mir in (Vo,luspa` 19) the well of Urd.}

GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.

"PPTS" = David Lawrence : "Papuan Perspectives of the Torres Strait". In :- Richard Davis (ed.) : Woven Histories, Dancing Lives: Torres Strait Islander Identity ... . Aboriginal Studies Pr, 2004. pp. 190-206. http://books.google.com/books?id=RpeGAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA196&lpg=PA196&dq=

pp. 256-7 gourd-resonated mouth-bow

p. 256

[quoted from Monteiro 1875, 2:139-40] "made by stretching a thin string to a bent bow, about three feet long, passed through half a gourd".

"This instrument ... appears to be similar to the berimbau, or marimbau used in Brazilian capoeira. In Guyana, it is called ... bilimbo ... which ... derives its name from ... mbirimbau (Mb) (Rego 1968, 73; Medonc,a 1973, 148), and Ovimbundu records ombumbumba (Hambly [1934], 225). ... a comprarble instrument

p. 257

is called in Cuba the burumbumba (Ortiz 1952, 1:21)".

Monteiro 1875 = Joachim John Monteiro : Angola and the River Congo. 2 Voll. London : Macmillan.

Rego 1968 = Waldeloir Rego : Capoeira Angola. Salvador (Brazil) : Edito^ra Itapua:.

Medonc,a 1973 = Renato Medonc,a : A Influe^ncia africana no portugue^s do Brasil. Rio de Janeiro : Civilizac,ao Brasileira.

Hambly 1934 = Wilfrid Dyson Hambly : The Ovimbundu of Angola. Chicago : Field Mus of Natural History. (reprinted 1968 Chicago : FIELD MUS OF NATURAL HISTORY ANTHROPOLOGICAL SER 21, No. 2)

Ortiz 1952 = Fernando Ortiz : Los instrumentos de la mu`sica afrocubana. Voll. 1 & 3. Havana : Publicaciones de la Direccio`n de Culture.

p. 257 conch-trumpet {traditional also to India}

"The fotuta of Cuba ... is a "seashell, carefully perforated at the base of its spiral and blown by a trained player" ... (Urfe` 1984, 172),"

p. 258 thumb-piano at wakes from the dead

"the Koongo call the thumb piano sanza, the Mbundu sansa, the Ovimbundu ocisanji (Hambly [1934], 162, 225. ... .

... an "old Trinidadian, son of a Congo" ... remembered "a group of old Africans who would sit in house of the dead person at wakes, playing the 'banja' (sanza) and singing about the dead while the younger people danced the Bongo outside" (Pearse 1979, 637)."

Hambly 1934 = Wilfrid D. Hambly : The Ovimbundu of Angola : Frederick H. Rawson-Field Museum Ethnological Expedition to West Africa, 1929-1930. Chicago : Field Museum of Natural History. (reprinted 1968)

Pearse 1979 = Andrew Pearse : "Music in Caribbean Popular Culture". REVISTA INTERAMERICANA 8.4:629-39.

pp. 259-60 xylophones

p. 259

"Guyanese ... xylophones ... were constructed of gubi (< Ewe govi), that is, calabashes ... overlaid with bamboo strips. These were tied together, water was

p. 260

poured into the calabashes to different levels to produce varying tonalities, and then the bamboo strips were struck ... .

One type of xylophone in Koongo was called the madiumba. ...

Indeed, xylophones were an established component of the earliest form of the rumba, the yambu`, and gave their name, guagua (xylophone), to the guaguanco`, a later dance development out of the yambu`".

pp. 260-1 popular music

p. 260

"Other types of popular music with close rhythmic links to Central Africa are

the calypso rhythm emanating from the island of Trinidad,

the zouk [p. 356, n. 9:31 : "For data on zouk, see Joycelynne Guilbault et al. 1993; O'Connor 1993/94."] from Guadeloupe, and

kompas from Haiti.

Their rhythms resemble those predominant in the Angolan ... kizomba, ... based on

p. 261

"village music from the Kimbundu and Kikongo areas"".

Joycelynne Guilbault et al. 1993 = Jocelyne [sic] Guilbault (with Gage Averill, E'douard Benoit, & Gregory Rabess) : Zouk. Univ of Chicago Pr.

O'Connor 1993/94 = Lorraine O'Connor : "Doctor Zouk". CARIBBEAN BEAT 8:8-16.

p. 262 calypso genre

"Typical of the calypso genre are sequences of quavers serving as prelude to an accented crochet at the beginning of the following bar ... . ... Also typical of the calypso are syncopated rhythms in which the bar begins with either a quaver or crochet rest".

p. 263 inter-connectivity of musics

"The inter-connectivity of African and southern West Atlantic musics has been the subject of some analysis [p. 356, n. 9:32 : "Among them ... Kubik 1979."] ... . In this context, the overlap in horn shout melodies between Angolan and calypso music ..., as well as similarities in rhythm between kizomba and Caribbean dance tempos all invite further investigation".

Kubik 1979 = Gerhardt Kubik : Angolan Traits in Black Music, Games, and Dances of Brazil. Lisbon : Centro de Estudos de Antropologia Cultural.


Maureen Warner-Lewis : Central Africa in the Caribbean : Transcending Time, Transforming Cultures. Univ of West Indies Pr, Kingston (Jamaica), 2003.