“Music in ritual is like the soul which is born from the heavens, and when we call to those they are close and respond because they are alive within us”
When thinking of music in Mayombe many practitioners fail to realize that it has been transformed over time, and has influenced the musical styles of Jazz, Eurpoean classical music, rumba, salsa… Many musical innovations have roots in Bantu liturgical folklore. Its style has made Mayombe very influential throughout the world.
The Bantu are a sub-Saharan people with many different dialects but with the same diffusion of stories and myth with some variance from region to region. They include parables, music for children, local tales, moral stories, and proverbs. The call and response of songs in Bantu liturgy is done by the narrator, and the audience’s participation is key to the call and response in the songs. We need not look far to find this method’s children in Afro-Hispanic and African-American musical art forms.
The Mambos (songs) must be told with considerable skill to keep the flow of these accounts true and accurate, as well as funny and sometimes also tragic. As with any story, good and or bad bring forth a moral understanding of the social norms experienced in Mayombe life. The purpose is to work for the community to understand that everyone in response to their actions deserves a reward and or recompense, depending upon their nature. That everyone is entitled to Justice and that in the end it is all for the benefit of the community. Bantu communities are made up of various tribes, including the Zulu, Shona, Makua, Kikuyu, Tswana, Kongo, Rundi, Mbundu, Bulu and yet many more groups that constitute the Bantu. Mayombe in the new world has not changed its improvisational style of call and response. Even the taunting styles of Mayombe which we call Puya(like a tease) is rooted in the traditional Bantu method of working Mambos. Puya’s are prevalent in Mayombe, but are just one part of a great musical style that is Mayombe. To call the spirit is to be guided by this call and response method which has even penetrated into modern musical styles like dancehall, Soca, Salsa, Rap, Blues and influences the genres of music that liven our community with life and spirit.