Mbaqanga is a musical style that emerged in South Africa, in Soweto in Johannesburg in the 1960s. It draws on traditional, jazz, kwela and marabi influences.

The instrumentation is typically drums, amplified guitar and bass, vocal (often a male lead with a female chorus) and sometimes brass. The baseline is emphasised. Typically it is four on the floor dance music, with the melody caried by high-pitched guitar notes.

Because of the amplified nature of these instruments, mbaqanga could not be played on streetcorners like kwela, and instead was found at beer halls, shebeens and parties. And on vinyl. By this time, after the sucessful commercialisation of kwela, it was known that there there was some money to be made in selling music to urban black South Africans (and white ones), and in the process creating black South African celebrities.

During this time the struggle against apartheid rose to the fore, and the music became politicised along with the music. it was refered to as township jive and The indestructable beat of Soweto.

"That was influenced by jazz, by the popular music we were hearing. At that time (1960s), the development of umbaqanga hadn’t even really started. Umbaqanga music was named after thick, doughy bread, which was the staple diet of the working urban class. The bread was used to describe the textural sound of the bass guitar. It was considered "thick and chewy"."
Johnny Clegg

Mbaqanga: South African pop music, an urban style that evolved in the 1960s, with high-pitched, choppy guitar and a powerful bass line; it draws on funk, reggae, and (vocally) on South African choral music

Mbaquanga, a strong and explosive potion of various types of traditional music (Zulu, Sotho, Shangaan, Xhosa) mixed with Marabi and American R&B, soul and gospel.

The word is pronunced roughly ba-kung-ga.

Also spelt Mbaquanga, baquanga, umbaquanga or m'baquanga, though Mbaqanga is the canonical spelling.

As Gritchka notes on the pronounciation and spelling: The -qu- is just wrong; it's not a -kw- sound. It comes from the English idea of automatically adding u after q, whereas you and I know it's a click. It's in Chambers as mbaqanga.

Important groups and artists: First and foremost Mahlathini and the Mahottela Queens, also Soul Brothers, Soul Ryders, Juluka before they turned to rock.

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