‘Liquindi‘ is from the Baka Forest People in Central Africa, who live near the Cameroon and Congo border. It’s a type of Pygmy music in Africa that is also referred to as ‘Yelli‘. The Baka women perform yelli, a traditional song, only early in the morning before a hunt. They perform the pre-hunt song in the dawn hours so as to enchant the rain forest and also attract animals leading to a successful hunt.
Normally, Pygmic music in central Africa comprises of choruses and harmony accompanied sometimes by a percussion instrument. The Liquindi however derives its melody and harmony from nature. The Baka people use the river as a drum when creating these beautiful sounds. In the Western World, Liquindi is commonly known as ‘Water Drumming‘.
Water Drumming is not in any way the hydraulophonic style of making music. In the hydraulophonic style, a percussive sound is produced during direct physical contact with water. It’s different since sound is produced by the fluid in contact with the fingers of the player. In Liquindi on the other hand, sound is produced when a person standing in water hits the surface of water using their hands, in a way that air is trapped in the hands to produce a percussive effect which arises due to the sudden change in air pressure of the air trapped. The sound does not exist in water entirely since the air-water boundary is needed as a surface to be struck.
In the Liquindi piece, one voice starts, another follows, then another…Each voice has its own repeating melody. Every singer has their own rhythm and cycle but the voices culminate eventually to form one song. It’s like each sound is reacting to the others to make the intonations of the voices in sync with the rhythm. Every clap is in sync with the tone and this complex polyphonic style of music is rich and characteristic of Western African music.