Music of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Music of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
General topics
Genres
Media and performance
Music festivals
Music media Kinshasa Symphony
Nationalistic and patriotic songs
National anthem"Debout Congolais"
Regional music
Francophone Africa

Music of the Democratic Republic of the Congo varies in its different forms. Outside Africa, most music from the Democratic Republic of Congo is called Soukous , which most accurately refers instead to a dance popular in the late 1960s. The term rumba or rock-rumba is also used generically to refer to Congolese music, though neither is precise nor accurately descriptive.

Democratic Republic of the Congo Country in Central Africa

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, East Congo, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa. It is sometimes anachronistically referred to by its former name of Zaire, which was its official name between 1971 and 1997. It is, by area, the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, the second largest in all of Africa, and the 11th-largest in the world. With a population of over 78 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populous officially Francophone country, the fourth-most-populous country in Africa, and the 16th-most-populous country in the world. Eastern DR Congo has been the scene of ongoing military conflict in Kivu, since 2015.

Soukous is a popular genre of dance music from the Congo Basin. It derived from Congolese rumba in the 1960s and gained popularity in the 1980s in France. Although often used by journalists as a synonym for Congolese rumba, both the music and dance currently associated with soukous differ from more traditional rumba, especially in its higher tempo, longer dance sequences. Notable performers of the genre include African Fiesta, Papa Wemba and Pépé Kallé.

Contents

People from the Congo have no single term for their own music per se, although muziki na biso ("our music") was used until the late 1970s, and now the most common name is ndule, which simply means music in the Lingala language; most songs from the Democratic Republic of the Congo are sung in Lingala.

History

Colonial times (pre-1960)

Since the colonial era, Kinshasa, Congo's capital, has been one of the great centers of musical innovation. The country, however, was carved out from territories controlled by many different ethnic groups, many of which had little in common with each other. Each maintained (and continue to do so) their own folk music traditions, and there was little in the way of a pan-Congolese musical identity until the 1940s.

Kinshasa Capital in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Kinshasa is the capital and the largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city is situated alongside the Congo River.

Ethnic group Socially defined category of people who identify with each other

An ethnic group, or ethnicity, is a category of people who identify with each other, usually on the basis of a presumed common genealogy or ancestry or on similarities such as common language, history, society, culture or nation. Ethnicity is usually an inherited status based on the society in which one lives. Membership of an ethnic group tends to be defined by a shared cultural heritage, ancestry, origin myth, history, homeland, language or dialect, symbolic systems such as religion, mythology and ritual, cuisine, dressing style, art or physical appearance.

Folk music Music of the people

Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be called world music. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, or music performed by custom over a long period of time. It has been contrasted with commercial and classical styles. The term originated in the 19th century, but folk music extends beyond that.

Like much of Africa, Congo was dominated during the World War II-era by rumba, a fusion of Latin and African musical styles that came from the island of Cuba. Congolese musicians appropriated rumba and adapted its characteristics for their own instruments and tastes. In the 1950s, record labels began appearing, including CEFA, Ngoma, Loningisa and Opika, each issuing many 78 rpm records; Radio Congo Belge also began broadcasting during this period. Bill Alexandre, a Belgian working for CEFA, brought electric guitars to the Congo.

Belgian Congo in World War II

The involvement of the Belgian Congo in World War II began with the German invasion of Belgium in May 1940. Despite Belgium's surrender, the Congo remained in the conflict on the Allied side, administered by the Belgian government in exile, and provided much-needed raw materials, most notably gold and uranium, to Britain and the United States.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Cuba Country in the Caribbean

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometers (42,800 sq mi). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometers (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.

Popular early musicians include Feruzi, who is said to have popularized rumba during the 1930s and guitarists like Zachery Elenga, Antoine Wendo Kolosoy and, most influentially, Jean Bosco Mwenda. Alongside rumba, other imported genres like American swing, French cabaret and Ghanaian highlife were also popular.

Wendo Kolosoy Congolese musician

Antoine Wendo Kolosoy, known as Papa Wendo, was a Congolese musician. He is considered the "Father" of Congolese rumba, also known as soukous, a musical style blending son cubano, beguine, waltz, tango and cha-cha.

Jean-Bosco Mwenda, also known as Mwenda wa Bayeke, was a pioneer of Congolese fingerstyle acoustic guitar music. He was also popular in other African countries, particularly in East Africa, and in the late 1950s and early 1960s was briefly based in Nairobi, Kenya, where he had a regular radio show and became a profound influence on a generation of Kenyan guitarists.

Swing music, or simply swing, is a form of popular music developed in the United States that dominated in the 1930s and 1940s. The name swing came from the 'swing feel' where the emphasis is on the off–beat or weaker pulse in the music. Swing bands usually featured soloists who would improvise on the melody over the arrangement. The danceable swing style of big bands and bandleaders such as Benny Goodman was the dominant form of American popular music from 1935 to 1946, a period known as the swing era. The verb "to swing" is also used as a term of praise for playing that has a strong groove or drive. Notable musicians of the swing era include Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima, Larry Clinton, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Woody Herman, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Harry James, Louis Jordan, and Cab Calloway.

In 1953, the Congolese music scene began to differentiate itself with the formation of African Jazz (led by Joseph "Le Grand Kallé" Kabasele), the first full-time orchestra to record and perform, and the debut of fifteen-year-old guitarist François Luambo Makiadi (aka Franco). Both would go on to be some of the earliest Congolese music stars. African Jazz, which included Kabasele, sometimes called the father of modern Congolese music, as well as legendary Cameroonian saxophonist and keyboardist Manu Dibango, has become one of the most well-known groups in Africa, largely due to 1960's "Indépendance Cha Cha", which celebrated Congo's independence and became an anthem for similar movements across the continent.

Cameroon Republic in West Africa

Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon, is a country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west and north; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the Bight of Biafra, part of the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean. Although Cameroon is not an ECOWAS member state, it is geographically and historically in West Africa with the Southern Cameroons which now form her Northwest and Southwest Regions having a strong West African history. The country is sometimes identified as West African and other times as Central African due to its strategic position at the crossroads between West and Central Africa.

Saxophone type of musical instrument of the woodwind family

The saxophone is a family of woodwind instruments. Saxophones are usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of the clarinet. Although most saxophones are made from brass, they are categorized as woodwind instruments, because sound is produced by an oscillating reed, traditionally made out of woody cane, rather than lips vibrating in a mouthpiece cup as with the brass instrument family. As with the other woodwinds, the pitch of the note being played is controlled by covering holes in the body tube to control the resonant frequency of the air column by changing the effective length of the tube. Rudy Wiedoeft became the best known individual saxophone stylist and virtuoso during this period leading into the "saxophone craze" of the 1920s.

Keyboard instrument class of musical instrument which is played using a musical keyboard

A keyboard instrument is a musical instrument played using a keyboard, a row of levers which are pressed by the fingers. The most common of these are the piano, organ, and various electronic keyboards, including synthesizers and digital pianos. Other keyboard instruments include celestas, which are struck idiophones operated by a keyboard, and carillons, which are usually housed in bell towers or belfries of churches or municipal buildings.

Big bands (c. 1930–70)

Into the 1950s, Kinshasa and Brazzaville became culturally linked, and many musicians moved back and forth between them, most importantly Nino Malapet and one of the founders of OK Jazz, Jean Serge Essous. Recording technology had evolved to allow for longer playing times, and the musicians focused on the seben, an instrumental percussion break with a swift tempo that was common in rumba. Both OK Jazz and African Jazz continued performing throughout the decade until African Jazz broke up in the mid-1960s, TPOK Jazz with Franco Luambo Makiadi at the helm dominated soukous music for the next 20 years.

Tabu Ley Rochereau and Dr. Nico then formed African Fiesta, which incorporated new innovations from throughout Africa as well as American and British soul, rock and country. African Fiesta, however, lasted only two years before disintegrating, and Tabu Ley formed Orchestre Afrisa International instead, but this new group was not able to rival OK Jazz in influence for very long.

Many of the most influential musicians of Congo's history emerged from one or more of these big bands, including the colossus Franco Luambo Makiadi usually referred to simply as "Franco", Sam Mangwana, Ndombe Opetum, Vicky Longomba, Dizzy Madjeku and Kiamanguana Verckys. Mangwana was the most popular of these solo performers, keeping a loyal fanbase even while switching from Vox Africa and Festival des Marquisards to Afrisa, followed by OK Jazz and a return to Africa before setting up a West African group called the African All Stars. Mose Fan Fan of OK Jazz also proved influential, bringing Congolese rumba to East Africa, especially Kenya, after moving there in 1974 with Somo Somo. Rumba also spread through the rest of Africa, with Brazzaville's Pamelo Mounk'a and Tchico Thicaya moving to Abidjan and Ryco Jazz taking the Congolese sound to the French Antilles.

In Congo, students at Gombe High School became entranced with American rock and funk, especially after James Brown visited the country in 1969. Los Nickelos and Thu Zahina emerged from Gombe High, with the former moving to Brussels and the latter, though existing only briefly, becoming legendary for their energetic stage shows that included frenetic, funky drums during the seben and an often psychedelic sound. This period in the late 60s is the soukous era, though the term soukous now has a much broader meaning, and refers to all of the subsequent developments in Congolese music as well.

Zaiko and post Zaiko (c. 1970–90)

Stukas and Zaiko Langa Langa were the two most influential bands to emerge from this era, with Zaiko Langa Langa being an important starting ground for musicians like Pepe Feli, Bozi Boziana, Evoloko Jocker and Papa Wemba. A smoother, mellower pop sound developed in the early 1970s, led by Bella Bella, Shama Shama and Lipua Lipua, while Kiamanguana Verckys promoted a rougher garage-like sound that launched the careers of Pepe Kalle and Kanda Bongo Man, among others.

By the beginning of the 1990s, the Congolese popular music scene had declined terribly. Many of the most popular musicians of the classic era had lost their edge or died, and President Mobutu's regime continued to repress indigenous music, reinforcing Paris' status as a center for Congolese music. Pepe Kalle, Kanda Bongo Man and Rigo Starr were all Paris-based and were the most popular Congolese musicians. New genres like madiaba and Tshala Mwana's mutuashi achieved some popularity. Kinshasa still had popular musicians, however, including Bimi Ombale and Dindo Yogo.

In 1993, many of the biggest individuals and bands in Congo's history were brought together for an event that helped to revitalize Congolese music, and also jumpstarted the careers of popular bands like Swede Swede. Another notable feature in Congo culture is its sui generis music. The DRC has blended its ethnic musical sources with Cuban rumba and merengue to give birth to Soukous. [1]

Influential figures of Soukous and its offshoots (N'dombolo, Rumba Rock) are Franco Luambo, Tabu Ley, Simaro Lutumba, Papa Wemba, Koffi Olomide, Kanda Bongo Man, Ray Lema, Mpongo Love, Abeti Masikini, Reddy Amisi, Pepe Kalle, and Nyoka Longo. One of the most talented and respected pioneers of African rhumba - Tabu Ley Pascal Rochereau.

Congolese modern music is also influenced in part by its politics. Zaire, then in 1965, Mobutu Sese Seko took over, and despite massive corruption, desperate economic failure, and the attempted military uprising of 1991, he held on until the eve of his death in 1997, when the president, Laurent Kabila. Kabila inherited a nearly ungovernable shell of a nation. He renamed it the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Kabila could not erase the ruinous effects of the Belgian and Mobutu legacies, and the country is now in a state of chronic civil war. Mobutu instilled a deep fear of dissent and failed to develop his country's vast resources. But the walls he built around his people and his attempts to boost cultural and national pride certainly contributed to the environment that bred Africa's most influential pop music. Call it soukous, rumba, Zairois, Congo music, or kwassa-kwassa, the pop sound emanating from Congo's capital, Kinshasa has shaped modern African culture more profoundly than any other.

Africa produces music genres that are direct derivatives of Congolese Soukous. Some of the African bands sing in Lingala, the main language in the DRC. The same Congolese Soukous, under the guidance of "le sapeur" Papa Wemba, has set the tone for a generation of young guys who dress in expensive designer clothing.The numerous singers and instrumentalists who passed through Zaiko Langa Langa went on to rule Kinshasa's bustling music scene in the '80s with such bands as Choc Stars and Papa Wemba's Viva la Musica.

One erstwhile member of Viva la Musica, Koffi Olomidé, has been indisputably the biggest Zairean/Congolese star since the early '90s. His chief rivals are two veterans of the band Wenge Musica, J.B. Mpiana and Werrason. Mpiana and Werrason each claims to be the originator of ndombolo, a style that intersperses shouts with bursts of vocal melody and harmony over a frenetic din of electric guitars, synthesizers and drums. So pervasive is this style today that even Koffi Olomidé's current repertory is mostly ndombolo.

Present day (1990-present)

Currently the Democratic Republic of Congo's music is dominated by the "ndombolo" dance and well represented by the newest congolese superstar:Fally Ipupa is a strong performer from the Democratic Republic of Congo who worked with the legendary Koffi Olomide in his group, Quartier Latin, before branching out on his own. His performances are energetic, his delivery unsurpassable. Female fans love to watch as he whips his songs to new heights in time to his swiveling hips (part of the reason he made the top ten sexiest men list). The mix of rhumba, reggae, soul and ndombolo have proven to be his magical elixir. He has performed to sold out audiences in Paris and New York and continues to gain recognition internationally for his music.

His awards include the Césaire de la Musique award for best male artist of the year (October 2007); he received a gold disc for his album, Droit Chemin, and has been nominated for best music clip, and best artist in the Black Music Awards to be held in Coutonou, Benin on January 12, 2008. Droit Chemin, produced by Maïka Munan (who has worked with famous Congolese musicians such as Tabu Ley Rochereau, M’Bilia Bel, Papa Wemba, Afia Mala), has been received with accolades and is extremely popular with his fans. There other talented artist musicians who emerged after the spit of Wenge Musica known as Ferre Gola, Fabrigas le Mis noir, Awilo Longomba, Cindy le Coeur and more.

There has been a massive movement or a rise of Congolese gospel artists coming out of nowhere. One of them is known as the pioneer of Congolese gospel music, Charles Mombaya who died in May 2007, he had a lot of influences over Congolese gospel music. He managed a small studio " Asifiwe Studio" where he was able to recruit new Congolese talented artists and record them. He recruited hundreds of Congolese singers who became famous including Runo M'vumbi Dembe Moyo, Marie Misamu, Thomas Lokofe, Carlito Lassa, Patrice Ngoy Musoko, Matou Samuel, Lifoko du Ciel, Kool Matope, Couple Buloba, Pepe Kibala, Mopero wa Maloba, Rene Lokua, Mbuta Kamoka, Mimi Mavatiku, Aime Nkanu, Jose Nzita, L'Or Mbongo, Denis Ngonde and more.

Another pillar of Congolese gospel artist whose music revamped worship in the sanctuary in D.R. Congo and worldwide is known as Alain Moloto. His music rich in depth reflective message, poetic and spiritual still impacting the lives of Christian Congolese in Europe, America and African's mostly French-speaking countries. Before his death, his group GAEL split and some of the group members formed a band known as l'Echos d'Adoration with the band leader Franck Mulaja, Henry Papa Mulaja and more. Another family group of Hip pop gospel artist arose from nowhere in the 1990s known as Makoma. Their music influenced a lot of young Africans and impacted lives worldwide.

Now a new generation of gospel artists are taking over Congolese music with amazing talent, sound quality and video clips including; Mike Kalambay, Moise Mbiye, Audit Kabangu and Moise Matuta. A vague of Congolese gospel artist musician are taking over diaspora mostly in the U.S, Canada and Europe. Serayaz is one the group who released their first album in 2017 " Shout of Praise" which can be found on iTunes and other social media platforms. Some of the most famous artists are Melanie Seraya, Steve Mwanza, Kristaal, Dena Mwana and more...

See also

Related Research Articles

Le Grand Kallé et lAfrican Jazz Congolese band often referred to as "African Jazz"

Le Grand Kallé et l'African Jazz, often simply referred to as African Jazz, was a popular and extremely influential Congolese rumba (soukous) band from the modern-day Democratic Republic of the Congo. Founded in 1953 in Léopoldville under Belgian colonial rule, the band was led by Joseph Kabasele Tshamala, popularly known by his stage name Le Grand Kallé. The group saw its heyday between 1958 and 1962, after which it was hit by defections by its members in 1963. It was briefly revived after 1966.

Papa Wemba Congolese musician

Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, known professionally as Papa Wemba, was a Congolese singer and musician who played Congolese rumba, soukous, and ndombolo. Sometimes dubbed the "King of Rumba Rock", he was one of the most popular musicians of his time in Africa and played an important role in world music. He was also a fashion icon who popularized the Sape look and style through his musical group Viva la Musica, with whom he performed on stages throughout the world.

Zaiko Langa Langa is a popular Contemporary band from DR Congo. Their music and creativity has greatly influenced Congolese and African popular culture like no other band has done. Voted and crowned band of the century in DR Congo " Zaiko remain the most influential band ever in the history of African music. The word "Zaiko" is a portmanteau for the lingala phrase Zaire ya bankoko, meaning "Zaire of our ancestors", where "Zaire" must be read as a reference to the river by that name, now called Congo. The meaning of the phrase "Langa Langa" is controversial; according to the band's website, it means "marvelous" or "almighty".

Koffi Olomide Congolese musician

Antoine Christophe Agbepa Mumba, known professionally as Koffi Olomide, is a Congolese Soukus singer, dancer, producer, and composer. He has had several gold records in his career. He is the founder of the Quartier Latin International orchestra with many notable artists, including Fally Ipupa and Ferré Gola.

Kwassa kwassa is a dance created by Jeannora, a mechanic in Kinshasa from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that started in the 1980s where the hips move back and forth while the hands move to follow the hips. It was very popular in Africa.

Tabu Ley Rochereau Congolese singer and songwriter

Pascal-Emmanuel Sinamoyi Tabu, better known as Tabu Ley Rochereau, was a leading African rumba singer-songwriter from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was the leader of Orchestre Afrisa International, as well as one of Africa's most influential vocalists and prolific songwriters. Along with guitarist Dr Nico Kasanda, Tabu Ley pioneered soukous and internationalised his music by fusing elements of Congolese folk music with Cuban, Caribbean and Latin American rumba. He has been described as "the Congolese personality who, along with Mobutu, marked Africa's 20th century history." He was dubbed "the African Elvis" by the Los Angeles Times. After the fall of the Mobutu regime, Tabu Ley also pursued a political career. His musical career ran parallel to the other great Congolese rhumba bandleader and rival Franco Luambo Makiadi who ran the band TPOK Jazz throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 80s.

Le Grand Kallé Congolese musician and founder of African Jazz

Joseph Athanase Tshamala Kabasele, popularly known as Le Grand Kallé, was a Congolese singer and bandleader, considered the father of modern Congolese music. He is best known for his role as leader of the band, Le Grand Kallé et l'African Jazz, in which capacity he was involved in a number of noted songs, including Indépendance Cha Cha.

Congolese rumba, also known as Rumba Lingala after its predominant language, is a popular genre of dance music which originated in the Congo basin during the 1940s, with strong similarities to Cuban son. The style gained popularity throughout Africa during the 1960s and 1970s.

Mbenzu Ngamboni Boskill, better known as Bozi Boziana, is congolese guitarist and singer. He has been in several major soukous bands, including Bamboula de Papa Noel, Minzoto Sangela, Zaiko Langa Langa, Isifi Lokole, Yoka Lokole, Langa Langa Stars and Choc Stars, and founded his own band, Orchestre Anti-Choc, which is considered among the most influential of the genre.

Félix Manuaku Waku Congolese musician

Pépé Felly Manuaku, also known as Pépé Fely is a Congolese Rumba guitarist, songwriter, producer, arranger, Bandleader and lyricist from the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has been described as the foremost Congolese solo guitarist of his generation. He is a founding member of the iconic groups Zaïko Langa Langa, Les Ya Toupas and Grand Zaïko Wawa. His style of guitar is the last style officially credited as a "School" or Genre of guitar following the styles "Fiesta" created by "Le Docteur" Nico Kassanda and "Odemba" created by "Le Sorcier" Franco Luambo Makiadi. He is credited with establishing the guitar as the lead instrument in contemporary Congolese music introducing Synthesiser, Bouzouki, Advanced Guitar effect pedal techniques, new arrangement and recording techniques.

N'Yoka Longo Mvula, also known as Jossart, alias Vieux Mbombas, is a DR Congo soukous singer, historical member and current leader of the popular soukous band Zaiko Langa Langa. He is most long serving member and one of it prolific songwriter and dancer. He is a second generation born Congolese, his family is originally from Angola. One of Africa's most prolific live band performers, N'Yoka Longo has toured several countries in Africa, America, and Europe.

Empire Bakuba is an influential soukous band that formed in Zaire in 1972. The name of the band refers to the Bakuba Kingdom; it is sometimes reported as Empire Bakuba du Grand Kalle, in honor of Grand Kalle, the "father of Congolese music", who was also bandleader Pepe Kalle's mentor. The band has never formally disbanded, although its activity has been scarce since Pepe Kalle's death.

Viva La Musica is a popular band from Zaire founded by singer Papa Wemba in 1977. While Viva La Musica started out as a soukous band, it eventually grew into a world music act, reaching some popularity and success in the European, American, and even Asian markets, as well as in most of Africa. The band is still active today, although it is just one of a number of musical ensembles used by Papa Wemba as a backup for his essentially soloist production.

Simaro Massiya Lutumba Ndomanueno, popularly known as Simaro, was a Congo music rhythm guitarist, songwriter and bandleader in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He was a member of the seminal Congo music band TPOK Jazz which dominated the Congolese music scene from the 1960s through the 1980s.

Malage de Lugendo, is a DR Congolese soukous recording artist, composer and vocalist. He was a member of François Luambo Makiadi's seminal band TPOK Jazz, and Tabu Ley Rochereau's band Afrisa International.

Empompo "Deyesse" Loway, was a soukous recording artist, composer and saxophonist, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He was a member of the soukous band TPOK Jazz, led by François Luambo Makiadi, which dominated the Congolese music scene from the 1950s through the 1980s.

Marie Solo, also known as Soleil Diva is a DR Congolese soukous singer, dancer, producer and composer.

This article is the discography of Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, commonly known as Papa Wemba who was a Congolese singer and musician who played Congolese rumba, soukous and ndombolo. Sometimes dubbed the King of Rumba Rock, he was one of the most popular musicians of his time in Africa and played an important role in world music.

References

  1. Stone, Ruth M. The Garland Handbook of African Music. p. 133. Retrieved 24 August 2014.

Bibliography