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Rhythm-A-Day Blog for January 4, 2020: Martyrs Day of Independence (DRC)

Posted by Wolf Murphy on

Martyrs Day of Independence (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

This national holiday celebrates the lives of hundreds of Congolese who were murdered as a peaceful march against Belgian Colonialism in 1959 turned into a defiant uprising. This event and its repercussions in world media later resulted in the Belgian government granting full independence to the DRC. The DRC had its first provincial elections in 1960 and 1961. The Martyr's Day of Independence thus was one of the DRC’s first steps towards becoming a democratic state and the bravery of these Martyrs is remembered and celebrated on this day.

As of this writing, the DRC continues to endure increasing turmoil and violence and Martyr's Day remains poignant for the Congolese people.

The rhythm Tschatscho is played for parties, for comfort after returning home from the cemetery after funerals, and is a very popular rhythm for all celebrations, the model for Soukous music, a source for Rhumba and Bomba rhythms, and is thought to be related to the West African Kuku rhythm. I learned this rhythm from Meistre Thobos Lubamba, THE Master Drummer from the Congo, and it is one of my favorite orchestrations. Here is a group he founded in the DRC decades ago playing this rhythm:

The Congolese Slit Drum used is called a Lokoli; if Bells are used for this part they are Ngongi bells. However, please play all rhythms on whatever instrumentation you possess! 

The High Drum is a smaller Ngoma drum called a Polo or Polo-Polo, which means "Talk Talk." The Polo parts tend to be simple and very repetitive parts and are very important to the polyrhythmic structure of the rhythms. 

Here is our video lesson for today's rhythm:

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