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date: 22 November 2019

Katanga guitar stylelocked

  • Gerhard Kubik


Term coined by Gerhard Kubik in 1965 for a type of acoustic guitar music that had developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s along the Copperbelt mining area in Katanga (southern Belgian Congo) and Northern Rhodesia. Its main exponents include the guitar music composers Mwenda Jean Bosco, Losta Abelo, Edouard Masengo and others (Low, 1982). Hugh Tracey's comprehensive coverage of this style cluster (see Guitar 1 and 2, Decca 1170 and 1171) exerted considerable influence on the rise of popular music in Central and East Africa.

The Katanga guitar style embraces a stylistic conglomerate characteristic of a distinctive time period within which the most diverse individual forms and innovations became possible. Between 1946 and 1962 developments and mutations occurred prolifically, and this kind of music reached its peak of popularity. It was performed in a variety of township languages, including Ciluba (Luba), Lunda, Icibemba (e.g. Aushi) and, most important, Kingwana (‘Congo Kiswahili’). The social environment of its exponents was that of mine workers and persons working for the Belgian colonial administration. Beginning in ...

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