The soukous guitar tutorial in the above video is kind of a special one. Both parts of this African Congolese piece – including the sebene – are quite close to another music style called son cubano. Son is the Latin American musical genre from where Congolese rumba aka soukous got its main influence. It’s just a funny twist in the story that son cubano’s roots can be traced back to African Bantu peoples that lived in the mountainous regions of South East Cuba, in Oriente Province. We of course have the idiosyncratic soukous elements as well, like the relatively high tempo or the I-ii-V chord progression. Did I mention that our song is in 3/4 time? Well, it is, and it’s in G major. Make sure that you download the tab and the backing track below, so you can study and practice the piece accurately!
Catch the Flow of these Quick Melody Notes
The goal in the first part of the tune is to run through those rapid sixteenth notes seamlessly and without hiccups. No, I didn’t mean the issues caused by your drinking habits. There is a point at where you have to skip the D string and go from the G to the A one. It won’t be much of a problem if you play fingerstyle, either with or without a thumbpick & fingerpicks. I recommend using these, because of the greater definition they give to the attack of each note. You can of course go other routes, like growing your fingernails, or play with a flatpick, among other picking methods. Another pointer for fingerstyle players: in the 2nd phrase of section I, there is a point at where there are three successive notes on the D string. Make sure that you choose a picking pattern that enables you to play through this part without getting your picking finger(s) cramped and compromising the timing of the notes.
Latin Style Sebene
The 2nd section will be a lot of fun to play, and it’s relatively easy to learn both of its phrases. Such melodic motifs are not unheard of in soukous/sebene music, but this chromatic move is a nice hint at salsa. Don’t forget to mute the high E string when going from it to the G string to complete the melody line. Also, as you can see in the tab and hear in the video, the last note of this phrase is a short 16th one. Once you get the feel of this tune, you’ll be able to sort of go in and out of the staccato feel. The whole piece has a certain pulse, if you know what I mean. The final section continues with an arpeggio on the G, B and E strings. After playing through the required repetitions, the song ends on a rhythmically picked & repeated added 6th chord.