Originating in Africa, the bamboula dance appears in a Haitian song in 1757 and bamboula became a dance syncopation performed to the rhythm of the bamboula drum during festivals and ceremonies in what is now Haiti. It was exported to the United States through Louisiana by the Africans that were deported to New Orleans during the 18th century after the Haitian Revolution. Congo Square (shown in the cover image) was designated in 1817 by the New Orleans’ City Council as an “official site for slave dances.” Hundreds of slaves gathered on a weekly basis to sing and dance. It was said that the atmosphere resembled West African marketplaces.
Louis Gottschalk would have witnessed the dancing in Congo Square as a youth, and the Creole music inspired him to write music with similar rhythms, which helped pave the way for later syncopated music such as ragtime and jazz.
James L. King III’s arrangement of Gottschalk’s popular work reduces it to its most simple form: the bamboula rhythm of dotted quarter-eighth-quarter-quarter.
Key: F major
Mood: joyful, toe-tapping
Pedagogy: bamboula rhythm, accents, staccato, bass clef reading