Tip! * Comes with a 40 pages booklet with photos. 300 copies * The territory inhabited by the Mbenzélé and Aka Pygmies is situated in the extre-me North of the Democratic Republic of Congo, over the Equator, in the north eastern (Mbenzélé) and north western (Aka) rain forests of Ouésso in the Shan-ga region, near the borders with the Central African Republic and Cameroon. The Pygmies still live according to their hunters-gatherers traditions, even though the ever increasing amount of contact they have with other Congolese ethnic groups and European visitors (like myself) are increasingly threatening their cul-ture and survival. The welcoming I received in these two communities, both made up of approxi-mately a hundred individuals between adults and children (many children), always touched and moved me. I stayed with them for 7 days, and the recordings were carried out over 5 days: on the 18th and 19th February (Mbenzélé) and 23rd, 24th and 25th of February 2014 (Aka).For these people, music is an extraordinary, joyful and everyday experience that they share collectively.It is achieved through very simple instruments (vocals, hand clapping and a few other percussions), and through collective improvisation they manage to create a rhythmic and harmonic complexity which can truly amaze. The Mbenzélé and Aka Pygmy Populations are a truly remarkable culture. May their forest spirit preserve them. I sincerely thank all the Mbenzelé and Aka children, women and men for their great artistic contribution, and the remarkable intelligence and good humour that they generously offered to this project.
Roberto Monari (Vignola, 26th January 2021)
BIRTH & NATURE
When Roberto entrusted me with these recordings I thought back to approximately 40 years earlier, when we first met, like something that comes back.
With him, a fundamental door onto the music realm opened, he passed on to me so much varied music. His home was like a little paradise (of listening) for a very young boy like me who was searching for and researching new worlds, both musical and artistic, and like a medicine music responded and nourished.Together we listened to music of all kinds and provenance: all the music forms we could find (we travelled to buy records and attend concerts), or that just presented themselves, and that had a certain peculiarity and originality provided an excuse for discovery, and ethnic music and Pygmies were also part of these worlds. The list would be longer than 40 years of life, and of listening.His friendship (and all this music) is an integral part of my formation, it is built in my body structure, it was like a natural education, without without formal knowledge and without professors. I am grateful to him for this.Teaching is done in silence, the transmission of knowledge too, and then a gesture and a good word that helps and completes arrives.Within this “ancient” act of sharing this work is like a comeback (eternal?) to the past which carries us beyond, and we hope that this “beyond” can accompany us and others who search for and research not only music but also life, too, like so-mething born out of creativity and that spontaneously grows and grows and grows.
These field recordings that he offered me arrived like a present, a reflection of my youth, but I think also of his, and our shared growth and it seems like centuries ago but it feels like now, and while listening and experiencing the Pygmies this becomes even clearer.After listening and re-listening (and working) so much (on) these recordings it was like being there with them and listening to these sounds, dialogues and music was like continually witnessing the birth of something.
Music is born in that moment, everything and everybody is at work and so-mething lights up: in the overall creativity a construction is created, and its decon-struction switches it off and while it is switching off new music comes by, for a while, for a moment. A person talking sounds like someone playing or singing, as if nothing was more important than searching for (and finding), amongst (everyo-ne’s) surprise, music and sound like materials that naturally make up their own being and what they live.The space resonates and you resonate within it, everything is powerful, the head switches off, the senses respond and resonate (even if you don’t know it).School (of birth) of music (and school of life), the forest speaks a different lan-guage and you cannot do without it, it speaks through you and with you and you transmit a world (as if forgotten and unknown). School of senses, a school for the senses. Disarming simplicity and simultaneously power (of nature).Moods instantly melt and are like carried away by events, and sound and music arrive (and their tradition), which act like a guide and bring joy, and communion.