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Music of Sub-Saharan Africa MUSI 3721Y University of Lethbridge, Calgary Campus John Anderson.

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Presentation on theme: "Music of Sub-Saharan Africa MUSI 3721Y University of Lethbridge, Calgary Campus John Anderson."— Presentation transcript:

1 Music of Sub-Saharan Africa MUSI 3721Y University of Lethbridge, Calgary Campus John Anderson

2 Interlocking 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

3 Call and Response, and Hockets 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

4 Textures and Timbres Dense, overlapping textures and buzzy timbres 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.

5 Forms and Structures Cyclical and open-ended forms involving one or more repeated melodies/rhythmic patterns These are called ostinatos basic foundation of a performance Ostinato is a repeated melodic or rhythmic pattern that forms the basic foundation of a piece or musical section sometimes called “melorhythm” or “ensemble thematic cycle”

6 Participation Community participation is central The participation of non- specialists is facilitated by long performances with much repetition and by the close association of music with dance

7 Rhythm Rhythmic complexity can occur at many levels Juxtaposition of duple and triple patterns (hemiola) Multiple layering of different rhythmic patterns And interaction between core foundation and improvised parts

8 Interlocking Parts and Hemiola It is easy to demonstrate both very simply Divide into pairs One partner claps eighth notes while the other claps triplets If you watch each others’ hands, you will see visually how the parts interlock

9 Call and Response Choose a phrase for the whole class This will be the response Say this at the end of each sentence I speak

10 Hocket Three volunteers Choose a setting Tell the story one alternating people one word at a time

11 BaMbuti vocal music: Alima Girls’ Initiation Music This recording includes snatches of solo and chorus But mainly demonstrates hocket Each singer is responsible for one note and hoots it at the appropriate moment Ringing rhythm sticks, softer split sticks, and handclaps provide a complex rhythmic accompaniment

12 Kora music “Ala l’a ke” According to Roderic Knight’s liner notes, this is one of the best-known kora songs The title literally means, “God has done it.” It commemorates the settlement of a quarrel between two brothers over the right to the chieftainship of Fuladu after their father died in the early days of colonial rule

13 Kora music “Ala l’a ke” The younger brother usurped the throne and had his brother punished when he thought his life was threatened This brought attention to the usurper and the British governor installed the rightful heir Instead of punishing his younger brother, the new chief only asked for an apology, saying that it was God’s deed Note especially the buzzing metal jangles attached to the instrument

14 Gadzo Again, general African musical principles and aesthetic values are well demonstrated Call-and-response Interlocking parts Ostinato Improvised variations A dense, multi-layered sound

15 Greetings and Praises Performed on the Yoruba Dùndún Drum This excerpt illustrates how the dùndún is used as a “talking drum” The drummer first plays a pattern Then another drummer recites the corresponding verbal phrase Included are common greetings like “Good morning” as well as brief praises that would have been played in honor of a chief

16 Greetings and Praises Performed on the Yoruba Dùndún Drum The dùndún is an hour-glass shaped pressure drum When the player squeezes and pulls the ropes that bind the heads on both ends of the drum, increased tension is created so that the pitch is raised When the cords are relaxed, the tension lessens, and the pitch drops

17 Musical Bow Played by a BaMbuti Pygmy Made from a bent sapling Thin section of vine used for the string The player holds one end with his toe against the ground, and the other against the edge of his mouth, which serves as a sound resonator By flexing the bow, he shortens the string, and raises the pitch So pleased was he with his performance that he shouts “Budah!” in the middle of it, an expression of joy

18 I.K. Dairo and The Blue Spots, “Salome” After an accordion introduction, Dairo sings the text Followed by a brief accordion solo (section A) The accordion then drops out for a new section (B) This section involves a percussion break in which the talking drum takes the lead playing verbal phrases that a unison vocal chorus repeats

19 I.K. Dairo and The Blue Spots, “Salome” At approximately 1:39, the talking drummer plays a short vocal phrase Immediately repeated by the chorus in call-and- response (X2) Makes the melodic quality of the talking drum particularly apparent The B section ends with a bongo solo

20 I.K. Dairo and The Blue Spots, “Salome” Shortened accordion introduction and vocal material from the A section then comes back to conclude the piece creating an overall A B A’ structure In addition to the combination of Yoruba and Cuban instruments, the piece incorporates the “clave” rhythmic pattern of the Cuban son played by the rhythm sticks

21 I.K. Dairo and The Blue Spots, “Salome” The text itself illustrates a combination of Yoruba and cosmopolitan elements Much of the text that Dairo sings falls squarely within the style of pop love songs The texts drummed and sung in Section B, however, include Yoruba proverbs

22 “Chitima Ndikature” (Excerpt) Performed by Thomas Mapfumo and The Blacks Unlimited This track is an example of Mapfumo’s mature style Features electrified mbira (bottle caps removed) Electric guitar, keyboards, bass, drums, hosho, and congas along with two female vocalists This piece is based in the classical mbira repertory 48-beat cycle four 12-beat phrases

23 Mapfumo uses indigenous Shona vocal techniques singing of vocables with the lower lines of the mbira part The allusive imagery of the sung poetry and its mosaic quality are also typical of indigenous Shona songs

24 Discussion Questions Is there an equivalent to African interlocking in Western music, and how might it work? Is there an equivalent to African interlocking in an Asian music studied thus far, and how does it work? Why would Pygmy communal living bear an influence on vocal hocket?

25 Discussion Questions Why would Pygmy nomadic life prevent Pygmies from using many musical instruments? Why do the words of the jali have as much importance as writing? Are there equivalents to the jali in Western music, and what do they say? What semblance to the kora is there among Western string instruments, and is there a common well-spring?

26 Discussion Questions Does anything like African ostinato exist in Western musical performance, and how would it work? Does North American popular music use drumming in the same manner as African drumming, or how is it different? What might befall an African court music tradition in the event of political insurrection, and how could it be guarded? How have traditional African musical instruments and styles survived in the rapidly changing world, and is this a good thing?

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