Konono No.1’s “Paradiso”

Finding a musical genre that is all it’s own with no influence from musical forms before it is impossible. No style of music that exists today appeared totally out of the blue. Speaking of blue, the blues came from a combination of English ballads and African shouts and spirituals. Early blues consisted of a 3-line structure like a traditional shout and contained mostly English words. Therefore, although blues was a unique new style of music, it clearly came from styles before it. This combination of musical styles in order to create a new one is known as musical fusion. Today, I’ve been listening to the song “Paradiso” by Konono No.1 from their popular album, Congometrics. Konono No.1 is a musical group from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since their formation in the 1970s, they have created music that is a fusion of various genres, from traditional music of the Bazombo ethnic group to trance music and electronic rock. Konono No.1 combines these various, very different genres in their song, “Paradiso.” “Paradiso” features an electric likembe (an electric version of a traditional instrument) and a variety of different drums, including a drum set. The traditional drums setting the song’s groove are traditional to Bazombo music, but the electronic instruments and the drum set are not. This inclusion of elements that generally belong elsewhere is called syncretism. Since their initial formation, Konono No.1 has toured all over the world with acts like Bjork and Dutch band, The Ex. Since their cross-cultural interactions, they have continued to add more elements from other cultures into their music. For instance, the word “Paradiso” is Italian. Due to all of these characteristics, Konono No.1 and, specifically, the song “Paradiso” highlight fusion, hybridity, and syncretism- concepts of a cultural, musical exchange. 

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