Brazzabeat

This is a web site dedicated to promoting traditional Congolese drumming in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. Congolese drumming is similar in style and motifs to West African drumming but the drums most often used – ngomas – are more deep-toned than the djembe. The lead drum parts are usually a little less ornate than in West Africa; the tempo is a little slower and the lead is most often played on the deepest drum. If congas are used instead of ngomas, they are tuned low. Often, rattles called nsakalas are worn on the wrists. What is in the name of the drum? An ancient and deep tradition. In the local language of the Lari people, ngo means “(strength of) the leopard”; ma means “given”. Elsewhere in Africa, ngoma means “drum”. Also, the root *goma dates back to the time of the Bantu expansion around 1500 BC and refers to song-dance ceremonies of trance and healing. A live performance by the virtuosos is compelling. Indoors, you can feel the drum beats go through your chest and then vibrate your hair after rebounding from the wall. The beat is not subtle; the syncopation twists and turns dancers. It is hard to remain indifferent to this music. Faces in an audience reveal a range of reactions from exuberance to self control. It is music of intricate beauty as well as power and funk.

Ngoma and nsakalas.

The Republic of the Congo or Congo-Brazzaville is located on Africa’s west coast, bordering five other nations. More than half of its 3 million inhabitants live in the capital of Brazzaville, making it one of Africa’s most urbanized countries. Though this web site focuses mostly on the music of Congo-Brazzaville, Kinshasa is just across the Congo River from Brazzaville and the music of that region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (former Zaire) is very similar. Today, sounds of many cultural groups – Bateke, Bacongo, Baluba, the Lari people, people of the Eturi Forest region and others – can be heard in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina.

Music on the home page was excerpted from the French record album FWA KONGO, recorded in 1975 by the Ballet Kodia. The group was started by Jean Loulendo and co-founded by Bertrand Nzoutani and Andre Badila. This site was designed by Court Wilson. To contact the administrator, send an email to admin@brazzabeat.org.

Guestbook