GRUPO LOKITO: a practice-based investigation into contemporary links between Congolese and Cuban popular music
music | T | Performing-arts | arts
There is a longstanding historical and cultural relationship between Congo and Cuba via the slave trade and the ‘return’ of Cuban music to Africa, a relationship that has apparently been very scantily documented. It is acknowledged that Congolese roots are present in Cuban music but there is little musical analysis of the actual elements concerned. \ud This thesis addresses this imbalance. Using a performance-as-research methodology, it charts the formation and experience of the fusion band Grupo Lokito. Through bringing Congolese and Latin musicians together in a performance situation, I explore the ways in which musicians from the two traditions recognise and assimilate each other’s groove. This dissertation investigates whether the historic connections enable contemporary musicians from both worlds to recognise similarities in each other’s music.\ud Also included is a historical overview of the Congolese arrival on Cuba, how Congolese musical practices were preserved and assimilated into Cuban music as well as an overview of the evolution of twentieth-century Congolese music.\ud Existing research has focused on issues such as the return of Cuban music to Congo (Topp Fargion 2004), the emergence of rumba Lingala in the 1950s and 1960s (Kazadi 1970; Stewart 2000), and the subsequent development in the 1970s and 1980s of Congolese music away from the Cuban era (Stewart 2000; Ewens 1994). \ud However, this thesis argues that, rather than diverging from the 1970s onwards as is frequently thought, Congolese and Cuban music retained commonalities that can be recognised by musicians immersed in the two styles. \ud An analysis of the musical structure and instrumentation of well-known Cuban and Congolese songs is included, as well as original compositions by Grupo Lokito, with further audio and video available on the separate CD and video. The accompanying CD Rom details the process of creation of material and outlines relevant musical structures.