Press play then return to read on…
A voice; far off and tight…
“A rasta man…”
Others join in.
Shaky voice; full of years…
People singing together,
They sing pain…
I feel it.
They sing family…
I feel it.
They sing home…
I feel it.
“They (Wingless Angels) play deliberately at just slightly under heart rate. The drumming goes deeper than your bones. It’s marrow music.”
– Keith Richards; producer for Mindless Records.
The music you’re listening to is called Niyabinghi (also binghi). It’s a style of chant that sprang from the Rastafarian resistance celebrations and went on to inspire popular ska, rocksteady, and reggae music. Comprised of three kinds of drums called “harps”; a single akete or “repeater”, a middle-pitched funde, and a bass striking loudly on the first beat and softly on the third of four counts, they create a smooth, comforting rhythm that is nearly hypnotic. The funde and bass keep regular rhythms, while the akete player improvises a conversation with his beats. Words, spoken or sung, during the chant are taken directly from Bible verses or well-known Christian hymns.
The African influence is easily heard in Niyabinghi but the style is considered to be a new sound that combines Jamaican traditions with a rediscovery of African drumming, rather than a direct continuation on traditional African rhythms. It is the religious music of Rasta followers and has been used by reggae’s legendary musician, Bob Marley.
I was introduced to Niyabinghi music through Keith Richards. Not in person–although that would be in the top five dream moments of my life–but rather through his promotion of a group called The Wingless Angels (that’s who you’re listening to now). He met them while living in Jamaica during the early 1970s and found the rhythms of the drumming to be a calming influence as he recuperated from a tour with the Rolling Stones. For me, this meditative music helps me to reach the place where I can connect with the words that need to come out in a story. It slows me down and allows me to enter a world where I am free with the music of the Rastaman.
The Wingless Angels website: http://www.winglessangels.com/