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Rhythm A Day Blog for March 7, 2020: Alexander Graham Bell Granted Telephone Patent

Posted by Wolf Murphy on

 Alexander Graham Bell Granted Telephone Patent

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell (Public Domain)

On this day in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was granted a patent for the "telephone"—but Africa had its own telecommunications solution in place long before that! I am of course referring to the various styles of Talking Drum, where the tones of the drum could imitate the inflected African languages, and recognizable phrases could actually be communicated by playing a drum.

The Congolese are known for their large slit drums that can project for a great distance.

Tambour à fente conservé congolais

We are going to play one 4-bar phrase from Ngando, a Congolese rhythm. Ngando means "crocodile" and this extremely musical and recognizable phrase communicated to those who heard it that there was something wrong, and everyone should return to the village and see who needed help.

Today's Video Lesson:

Landing page image:
Mangbetu, Congolese Slit Drum, from author's collection.


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