Africa: Music from Rwanda

    -- Rounder 5106, 1999. CD + 18-page booklet.

One of the milestones in commercial recordings of ethnomusicology material was the “Anthology of Traditional Music of the World,” a 50-album set edited by Alain Daneilou and connected with UNESCO. It was originally released on vinyl from 1968 to 1987 by a German record company. The anthology includes the volume “Africa: Music from Rwanda.”

This volume provides eight samples of Hutsi music, six from Hutu culture, and three Twa songs. There are examples of sacred royal drum ensembles, board zither (inanga), a spirit song, a musical bow, various song types, and more. One interesting instrumental piece is a flute duet, where the two flutes represent a male and female shrew and “enter into a violent dispute. As the two instruments are tuned in different tonalities, the superposition of their melodies produces a real bitonality.”

These selections were originally recorded in 1954-55. As the editor states, “Although their technical quality is not always perfect, we are publishing these recordings since it will never again be possible to record the musical forms they represent.” We are grateful to Rounder Records for reissuing this set of historic recordings.

The notes for each song are good but short. They are written by a European scholar who published an entire book on ‘Musik in Rwanda.’ One wishes more of his knowledge was shared in the original liner notes, since his book was never translated into English. One also wishes that at least an up-to-date bibliography was included, since Tutsi music in particular has been widely studied. For those wanting to know more, look under “Rwanda” in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd edition).

    --reviewed by Paul Neeley

Published in Vol.2, No.1 of

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Artists in Christian Testimony