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Music of Africa. With Guest Lecturer Performer: Derrick Spiva. Music and Culture. Sub-Saharan Africa maintains enormous linguistic, cultural, and musical diversity, where oral traditions are the means of passing culture rather than literary traditions.

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Music of Africa

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music of africa
Music of Africa
  • With Guest Lecturer Performer: Derrick Spiva
music and culture
Music and Culture
  • Sub-Saharan Africa maintains enormous linguistic, cultural, and musical diversity, where oral traditions are the means of passing culture rather than literary traditions.
  • Today we will approach the music of Africa from an anthropological perspective, from which we explore the relationship between music and the kinds of culture that produce it.
colonialism in africa
Colonialism in Africa
results of colonialism
Results of Colonialism
  • Tribes divided into colonialist regions and not by tribal or ethnic boundaries.
  • Suppression of religion and its music.
  • Ongoing ethnic conflicts that have caused great harm both to human life and to culture.
key concepts
Key Concepts
  • Despite the diversity, a few underlying principles characterize the music of the whole region.
Interlocking is the practice of fitting pitches into spaces between other parts, alternating pitches or phrases of one part with those of another to create a whole part. An example is the whole melody created by a mbira player’’s two hands.
Call and response is the alternation or interlocking of leader and chorus, or of a vocal and instrumental part. Hocket is the interlocking pitches between two or more sound sources to create a single melody or part. An example is Pygmy vocal music.
Dense, overlapping textures and buzzy timbres manifested in a preference for overlapping drum and percussion rhythms. An example is Ewe drumming. Wind and string instruments incorporate percussive elements: strings are more often plucked than bowed and wind instruments are often played with a breathy sound quality. An example of a percussive string sound is the kora.
Cyclical and open-ended forms involving one or more repeated melodies/rhythmic patterns (ostinatos) as the basic foundation of a performance.
Ostinato is a repeated melodic or rhythmic pattern that forms the basic foundation of a piece or musical section
Community participation. The participation of non-specialists is facilitated by long performances with much repetition and by the close association of music with dance.
Importance of rhythmic complexity. This can occur at many levels: juxtaposition of duple and triple patterns (hemiola), multiple layering of different rhythmic patterns, and interaction between core foundation and varied/improvised elaboration parts.
anlo ewe agahu
Anlo-Ewe Agahu
  • -Ewe people of Eastern Ghana, Western/Southern Togo (Eweland)

-Agahu is a social dance

-Created in the beginning of the 20th century

-Performed in Anyako, a fishing village in the Volta region

-Agahu (meaning air ship) originated in Benin from a piece called Gumbe. Visiting Ewe fisherman from the Volta region of Ghana took Agahu back to their homeland where it spread to other towns and villages.

The name originated from an event in which the first performance of the piece was also the first time people in the area had seen an airplane. Due to the practice of music and dance often serving as a source of local oral history, the event became the name of the piece.
Agahu is a social dance in which all can participate. It’s often danced in a circle with special clothing (like church clothing). There may also be a form of identification kept with each dancer. The ID card, or paper, would be used during a certain portion of the dance meant to reenact a period under British rule in which officials repeatedly asked residents to “show their papers.”
a specific set of instruments
A specific set of instruments
  • The ensemble includes:
  • atsimevu and agboba, which are both lead drums.
  • The sogo, kidi, and kaganu are supporting drums
  • gankogui (bell) is the center and timekeeper of the ensemble.
  • axatse (shaker) and clapping are used depending on the style of music being played.
the shona
The Shona
the pygmies bambuti
The Pygmies, BaMbuti
  • Semiautonomous hunting and gathering existence.
  • There is little specialization of social and economic roles within age and gender. There is no formalized hierarchical system of leadership
instruments of the bambuti
Instruments of the BaMbuti
  • Only what you can carry in a nomadic lifestyle.
  • Whistles, end-blown flutes, rhythm sticks and rattles, molimo trumpets
  • Voice is most important
molimo and elima
Molimo and Elima
  • Molimo - BaMbuti ceremony for the forest; a straight valveless trumpet often used in the ceremony. Vocal (Darkness is good)
  • Elima - Ceremony to celebrate puberty for women.
the mande
The Mande
  • West African Mande society is characterized by an elaborate social hierarchy in which occupational specialization is determined by heredity. The two main social categories are sula (“ordinary people”: farmers, merchants, etc.) and nyamalo (professional craft specialists).
  • The Jali “Wordsmith, professional musician/verbal artist.
instruments of the mande
Instruments of the Mande
  • balo - a xylophone
  • kora - a bridge harp
ala l a ke http www youtube com watch v 9lekjmhkzli
Ala L’a Ke
  • Kora, balo, voice.
  • donkilo - basic vocal melody
  • sataro - declamatory singing style
  • kumbengo - the basic instrumental ostinato, foundation of the performance.
  • birimintingo - instrumental interlude, when the kumbengo is changed.
urban popular musical traditions
Urban popular musical traditions
  • Urban popular music traditions have sprung up all over Africa. Local input mixed with Western elements (brass instruments, electric guitars, basic harmony, etc.) and Latin American rhythms give each style a unique sound.
west africa highlife
West AfricaHighlife
  • A form of brass band music originating in Ghana that developed from the local Akan people performing local music on brass instruments with traditional percussion instruments. It further developed into dance band music with a Cuban rumba style. Key performer: E.T. Mensah.
  • ♣ Sub-Saharan Africa is a huge area with many different societies, each with their own distinctive music; however, there are some common general musical characteristics and approaches that we can identify that pertain to many African societies
♣ African music favors ostinatos (repeated rhythmic and melodic cycles), polyphony (multiple melodic parts performing at once), and interlocking parts.
♣ Musical performance is often a communal participatory activity, and pieces often comprise a collection of melodic or rhythmic formulas that are subject to group variation and thus differ from one performance to another.
♣ Social structure and conditions influences music and performance; for example, the nomadic BaMbuti pygmies use fewer instruments and favor vocal performance. Those instruments that they do use tend to be smaller and lighter, fitting their traveling lifestyle. On the other hand, the Buganda kingdom, with a highly organized, centralized government, developed elaborate court music ensembles.
♣ Key instruments include lamellaphones (for example, the mbira), strings (the kora), xylophones, trumpets, flutes, musical bows, and drums.
  • Does anything like African ostinato exist in Western musical performance, and how would it work?
Does American popular music use drumming in the same manner as African drumming, or how is it different?