Africa’s Music

The music and dance forms of the African diaspora include African-American music and many Caribbean genres, such as soca, calypso and zouk. Latin American music genres such as the flamenco, samba, rumba, salsa, and other clave (rhythm)-based genres, were founded to varying degrees on the music of enslaved Africans, and have in turn influenced African popular music.

African traditional music is frequently functional in nature. Performances may be long and often involve the participation of the audience. There are, for example, little different kinds of work songs, songs accompanying childbirth, marriage, hunting and political activities, music to ward off evil spirits and to pay respects to good spirits, the dead and the ancestors. None of this is performed outside its intended social context and much of it is associated with a particular dance. Some of it, performed by professional musicians, is sacral music or ceremonial and courtly music performed at royal courts.

Egypt has long been a cultural focus of the Arab world, while remembrance of the rhythms of sub-Saharan Africa, in particular West Africa, was transmitted through the Atlantic slave trade to modern samba, blues, jazz, reggae, hip hop, and rock.The 1950s through the 1970s saw a conglomeration of these various styles with the popularization of Afrobeat and Highlife music.

Modern music of the continent includes the highly complex choral singing of southern Africa and the dance rhythms of the musical genre of soukous, dominated by the music of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Indigenous musical and dance traditions of Africa are maintained by oral traditions, and they are distinct from the music and dance styles of North Africa and Southern Africa. Arab influences are visible in North African music and dance and, in Southern Africa, Western influences are apparent due to colonisation.

International Library of African Music, Rhodes University, South Africa

Founded in 1954, ILAM is the greatest repository of African music in the world. A research institution devoted to the study of music and oral arts in Africa, it preserves thousands of historical recordings going back to 1929 and supports contemporary fieldwork.

African popular music, like African traditional music, is vast and varied. Most contemporary genres of African popular music build on cross-pollination with western popular music. Many genres of popular music, including blues, jazz and rumba, derive to varying degrees from musical traditions from Africa, taken to the Americas by enslaved Africans. These rhythms and sounds have subsequently been adapted by newer genres like rock and rhythm and blues. Similarly, African popular music has adopted elements, particularly the musical instruments and recording studio techniques of western music.

The Afro-Euro hybrid style, the Cuban son, has had an influence on certain popular music in Africa. Some of the first guitar bands on the continent played covers of Cuban songs. The early guitar-based bands from the Congo called their music rumba (although it was son rather than rumba-based). The Congolese style eventually evolved into what became known as soukous

African_Music_Wall_Carving-MYS

African Music Styles

African Musical Instruments

Time to Listen – check out these great performers

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