Музыка Африки.

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Национальная Африканская и Афро-Американская музыка.

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African Music

For each of the African songs below, I have pointed out some of the characteristics which we will see in the later music. Far from being comprehensive, my descriptions are meant as a starting point. As you become familiar with the music (repeated listening has increased my appreciation of the African music) you may come to feel that no description could adaquately describe all the nuances of this music which have passed into the modern American context.


01-(UGANDA,_Ganda)_Jakaliya_or_Zakaria_Kasasa_&_group_-_Ab.mp3 - From the Secret Museum of Mankind

This song illustrates for us the use of an unusual four-note scale by a singer. Accompanied by a plucked string and a bowed string instrument and drum, the singer is joined briefly in the last verse by another voice which both harmonizes with his voice, and performs a short call and response segment with him. The rhythm produced by the drum and stringed instruments is a complex poly-rhythm very alien to western conditioned ears. In spite of the limited ranges of the instruments and the singers melody, the overall impression is one of energy and motion


02_-_(UGANDA,_Lango-Acholi)_Private_Christopher,_et_al_Lawino.mp3 - From the Secret Museum of Mankind

This song presents us with a good example of the use of "call and response" in the African tradition. In this song it is voice which performs the call and response, but this technique is also used in instrumental music [Nketia. 53.] The only instrument which accompanies the voices in this song is a flute which plays only two notes. These notes are played only during certain parts of the song, with the flute playing triplets (high-low-high) in a counter-rhythm to the punctuated four beat rhythm of the voices.


03_-_(KENYA,_Luo)_Opondo_Mugoye_-_Odhiambo_Otieno.mp3 - From the Secret Museum of Mankind

Here we find an example of a strong and steady four beat rhythm (drum and bells) played as a plucked string instrument provides a counter rhythm in three notes for a vocalist. At times the vocasounds almost as though he were speaking instead of singing, but always his words are rhythmically accented. The vocaprovides all the motion in the song, while the drum and bells never waver from their four beat, nor the stringed instrument from its counter-rhythm.


05_-_(KENYA,_Luo)_Opondo_Songa_-_Athieno_Omolo.mp3 - From the Secret Museum of Mankind

This song also has its base in a strong steady beat, and derives most of its movement from the singer, who alternately sings and rhythmically speaks, using his voice to impart a strong sense of emotion. If one listens closely, the instrumentalists can be heard moaning and making other such sounds, a method used at other times as the basis of musical composition [Young. 191 - 192.].


06_-_(KENYA,_Kipsigis)_Bekyibei_Arap_Mosonik_-_Haiya_Haiya_Ee.mp3 - From the Secret Museum of Mankind

Here a tambourine and banjo provide a steady rhythm over which a female vocaand her accompaniment perform a call and response arrangement. The response does not vary throughout the song, and at the end the vocajoins in the final repetition. The vocal part of this performance is remarkably similar to that described by Mungo Park of a song sung by a woman and her family in the year 1800 [Southern. Readings. 5 - 6.].


07_-_(TANGANYIKA,_Arusha)_Baiyani_Medureki_-_Osingolio_Londoi.mp3 - From the Secret Museum of Mankind

Here again we have an example of a women's song. Call and response defines the form of this entirely vocal performance. The rhythm is accented by soft counter-rhythms produced by a portion of the singers who blend their voices in monotonal polyrhythms throughout the piece. The notes used seem to be in a minor key, and the scale used is somewhat different from the western scale with some notes consistently sung more flat than is typical in western music.


08_-_(SOMALILAND)_Anon._Dankeles_-_Kasso.mp3 - From the Secret Museum of Mankind

In this track, we hear a group of women singing in a call and response arrangement, accompanied only by the polyrhythmic clapping of their hands, as had been described by Mungo Park in 1800 and before him by Richard Jobson in 1623 [Southern. Readings. 3, 7.].


African-American Music of the First Half of the Twentieth Century


While listening to the following tracks on the Library of Congress website, you will hear many aspects of African music which are present in the songs above. Beyond the technical aspects which I have attempted to describe above, the songs below share many aesthetic characteristics with their African cousins. It is also recommended that you peruse the Library of Congress American Folk Life Center website and listen to the wealth of other music presented there.

Gus Gibson - Railroad Song - at the Library of Congress American Folk Life Center

Unknown Artist - I Can't Even Give it Away - at the Library of Congress American Folk Life Center

Sac Harp Singers - Newman - at the Library of Congress American Folk Life Center

Middle Georgia Four - Lead Me to That Rock - at the Library of Congress American Folk Life Center

Buster Brown - War Song - at the Library of Congress American Folk Life Center

Buster Ezell - Joe Louis - at the Library of Congress American Folk Life Center


Twenty-first Century Music with African-American Influences


There are many other more or less quantifiable aspects of African music, sometimes called "Africanisms," which have remained alive in the music of African-Americans and passed into the vocabulary of other contemporary American musicians.

The sound produced by any instrument can be classified as being either of definite or indefinite pitch, and African musicians have long given equal prominence to these two types of sound [Nketia. 111 - 112.] Three types of instrumental arrangements typify African music, according to Nketia; those which are composed entirely of pitched instruments, those made up exclusively of instruments capable only of indefinite pitches, and those which use both types of instruments. [Nketia. 112 -113.] This division of arrangements is closely paralleled in emerging and existing musical forms of the twenty-first century.

As in the African arrangements of pitched instruments, which tend to not have an articulated timeline unless tuned idiophones are used [Ibid.], the so called "Zero-beat" genre of ambient electronic music displays this lack of a definite pulse structure while the style being called "IDM" or "Intelligent Dance Music" includes tuned samples to enforce the feeling of structu rhythm.

"Drum and Bass" closely parallels the African arrangements composed entirely of non-pitched instruments. Although "Drum and Bass" occasionally incorporates tuned instruments and samples, its primary focus is on the rhythms of percussion and drum loops. As the use of instruments of indefinite pitch as a basis of music lead to the use of objects other than instruments to produce music [Nketia. 112.], so there has emerged a style of music called "Noise" which uses pominantly non-musical sounds in the production of rhythmic soundscapes.

The third of Nketia's categories occurs when the musicians of Africa combine instruments of both definite and indefinite pitch; the arrangements produced give voice to both the melodic and rhythmic functions of music [Nketia. 113.]. This is the most common type of arrangement in African music. A new musical genre, "Deep House," combines the rhythmic elements of "Drum and Bass" with the melodic elements of other electronic music. Unlike the other electronic forms discussed above, "Deep House" includes the use of the human voice on a much more frequent basis.

These examples serve to illustrate the strong and continuing influence of Africanisms in the music of today. This threefold division of African music is but one small aspect of the many African influences at play in these and other genres of contemporary music.

Due to current copyright laws it would be extraordinarily difficult to place music by modern electronic artists on my website. Fortunately there are streaming internet "radio" stations where you can listen to music by those artists, so here I will direct you to a few which I have found to be reliable, and some which I listen to every day. In each place you find it, you will hear the African tradition bringing energy, motion, spontaneity, and raw emotion into creation of new forms of music.

Spurge Radio Hip Hop, Rap, Blues, and Jazz. This station plays a variety of the more popular forms of African-American music. While the electronic music of the streams below do not emphasize lyrical accompaniment, this station plays a lot of music which demonstrates the story-telling aspect of African music. Through their lyrics the artists often weave stories which describe their lives and the world in which they live.

Spurge Radio - Listen now:

128 kbit mp3 - for faster connections

56 kbit mp3 - try this if 128 kbit skips a lot.

32 kbit mp3 - for slower connections

http://www.monkeyradio.org/ - Monkey radio plays a wide variety of music; triphop, ambient, and acid jazz being only a few of the many genres they might play in a typical hour. The challenge while listening to this stream will be in finding a song which does not have at least a trace of Africanisms. This is one station which I listen to on a daily basis.

Monkey Radio - Listen now:

128 kbit mp3 - for faster connections

24 kbit mp3 - for slower connections

http://www.somafm.com/ - SomaFM is not one but eight different audio streams. Six of the streams feature specific genres of electronic music, one features jazz, lounge, and rock music in the spirit of spy movies, and the last features independent pop artists. I have selected six of their streams to feature here, the others may be accessed through their website. In all of the streams you will find the African influence strongly present in these pominantly rhythm based musical styles

Groove Salad - Ambient beats and grooves - Listen now:

128 kbit mp3 - for faster connections

56 kbit mp3 - try if 128 kbit stream skips a lot

24 kbit mp3 - for slower connections

Secret Agent - Music for Spies and P.I.'s too! - Listen now:

128 kbit mp3 - for faster connections

56 kbit mp3 - try if 128 kbit stream skips a lot

24 kbit mp3 - for slower connections

Squidradio downtempo - Listen now:

128 kbit mp3 - for faster connections

56 kbit mp3 - try if 128 kbit stream skips a lot

24 kbit mp3 - for slower connections

I highly recommend this station. This is another stream which I have come to love. It's jazzy beats keep me coming back for more.

Squidradio drum'n'bass - Listen now:

128 kbit mp3 - for faster connections

24 kbit mp3 - for slower connections

Soma House Party - Listen now:

128 kbit mp3 - for faster connections

24 kbit mp3 - for slower connections

Cliqhop idm - "Blips'n'bleeps backed mostly w/beats"- Listen now:

128 kbit mp3 - for faster connections

24 kbit mp3 - for slower connections

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