african origins and acculturation in the new world
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African Origins and Acculturation in the New World. Chapter 3. Slaves and their community. Slaves mainly came from the Western Region of Africa. Village-based culture – individuals work towards a common good. Music is a communal activity and all participate on some level.

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slaves and their community
Slaves and their community
  • Slaves mainly came from the Western Region of Africa
Village-based culture – individuals work towards a common good. Music is a communal activity and all participate on some level.

WORK SONG – music performed while conducting a task

FIELD HOLLERS – related to above, sung solo and echoed by others or passed along; cries for water or food and to explain events, religious devotions, and for motivation.

music for activity
Music for Activity
  • Music is always linked to an activity
    • Births
    • Deaths
    • Weddings
    • Rites of passage
    • Religious Celebration/Agricultural events
    • Music in ceremonies is to invoke Deities – appease spirits to ward off bad luck & illness.
music for dance
Music for Dance
  • West African music is used primarily for dance and/or body movement.
  • Master drummers are also master dancers
  • Drum students take dance lessons
  • Music is seamless and very repetitive
  • It can be hypnotic – creating a trance-like state for medicinal and healing purposes.
  • Non-participants would be bored.
types of drums

*Types of Drums

*DJembe – rope tuned skin-covered goblet drum played with bare hands

*How to play djembe drum.  6 sounds

african drum ensembles
  • 4-6 players
  • The rhythmic concept is very complex
  • There is a steady basic pulse that the other rhythmic elements play off
  • Multilinear rhythm – composite effect of different linear lines
call and response
  • The fundamental form of African music
  • Leader performs a portion of music and the group performs a response
  • Not unique to West African music; it is found in many musical cultures around the world, even today.
  • Beetlejuice dinner scene
  • Zulu Battle chants
  • Whoopin’ Blues
call and response work songs examples from book
Call and Response/Work Songs examples from book
  • Kneebone (from book)
  •  Arwhoolie (from book)
  • Hammer, Ring (from book)
coming to a new world
  • The extent to which African slaves were able to keep their folkways depended on their location and the ethnic background of their owners.
  • African Americans living off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia retained more than those in constant contact with whites and other cultures.
latin catholics french and spanish
LATIN – CATHOLICS (French and Spanish)
  • More tolerant of African traditions. Slaves were allowed to continue as long as their duties were done.
  • Slaves were taken to church. Music was taught by a practice called LINING OUT – a line at a time. Blacks and whites learned hymns together.
  • STROPHIC - music is the same for each verse, ie. hymns
british protestants
  • Felt responsible for slaves body and soul.
  • African traditions were thought of as heathen and savage.
  • Drums were forbidden so the slaves improvised using anything they could find, including stomping, and bearing their thighs and chest
the divide
  • When the sentiment turned against slavery, the south wanted to keep it in place. Blacks were cast out of churches. So they formed their own!
  • African musical practices flowered.
    • Black spirituals
    • Highly rhythmic, repetitive and chant-like music that involved dance or movement. Call and response and the gruffness of the “dirtied” voice remained as in the origins.
African took scales, melodies, harmonies, rhythms, and sounds of European musical practice and later altered them to fall in line with their own musical traditions.

From musical theater to rock and roll, stylistic traits of African-American music have shown an influence.

  • Emphasizes notes that don’t align with the pulse; accenting the weak beats (2and4) instead of the stong beats (1and3)
  • MOTOR RHTHYM –presentation of a steday rhythmic pulseat a consistent tempo, provides the base for syncopation and swing
  • How music works
  • Stomp – brooms
  • Spontaneous creation of a performer by reacting to the musical environment situation of the moment.
  • Paraphrasing – taking an existing meoldy and changing it
  • Mid 1920s – on = creating new melodies based on the chords in the background
  • Mid 1950s – on = creating new melodies NOT based on the chords. Not required to fit the chords.
marsalis on music
Marsalis on Music
  • #2 -
  • #3 -
improv continued
Improv., continued
  • Improvisation existed in European music such as Bach and Mozart.
  • African-American music gave a high priority to improv skills. The musician became the performer and composer at the same time.
  • One improviation is performed, it’s gone, done. It can never be re-created the same so it’s fragile and elusive.
coloring a sound
  • As in the growl of the voice, instrument sounds can be “dirtied” by making them have a rattle or a buzz.
  • MBIRA – handheld box with meatl tines, playd with the thumbs and forefingers. It is usually a clean, clear sound.
  • Can be “dirtied” by adding bottlecaps to produce a buzzing sound.
blue notes
  • In jazz and blues, a blue note is a note sung or played at a slightly lower pitch than that of a major scale for expressive purposes.
  • Country blues, in particular, features wide variations from the pitches with emotive blue-notes. Blue notes are often found in traditional African work songs.
Blue notes (in blue): b3, (♯4)/b5, b7
  • Like the blues in general, the blue notes can mean many things. One quality that they all have in common, however, is that they are flatter than one would expect.
  • African Blues
  • Bending Guitar Notes
  • Tone production
  • Europeans expected pure, clear, and consistent notes
  • African-Americans expected individuality. Nasal sounds, growls, and horseness were encouraged.
  • Relaxed rhythmic feeling imposed over a rhythmic drive.
  • Softer entrances, instead of Ta, use Da
  • Felt in a subdivision of the beat of 3 instead of 2.
  • Soon and Very Soon