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Generally, African societies do not use music notation.
Often associated with
there is a directrelationship between
music and dance
is an important (sometimes the most important, or most central) activityin African cultures
are numerous and diverse in Africa, but not distributed evenly across all cultures.
Africans in a community use __________ in their lives as an opportunity to share in music-making, making it a social event.
In what ways do the settings of performances in Africa differ from those of performances here? In what ways are they similar?
- • First, music most often takes place outdoors, in the open air. There may be certain places in a village or town set aside for performance, but performance can also simply take place anywhere.
- • Performances are often informal. (see Music in Community Life, p. 34: “the atmosphere…is usually informal, and spectators are free to move about or leave any time they wish.”)
- • MOST IMPORTANTLY: Audience members are attracted to the performance for different reasons, and also: the “rules” of observation are much looser than those of a typical performance in the West. The line between performers and spectatorsis blurred, first of all. The spectators of a musical performance in Africa may often become participants in some way.
- • Is the performance always “for” the audience? Not necessarily. The spectatorsmay just be there, but not the focus of the performance (i.e., if the music is for areligious purpose; for contacting ancestral sprits, etc.)
is a tuned idiophone.
There are many types of xylophones, and difference can occur in many areas:
- • no. of keys/size of the instrument
- • size of the actual keys
- • “loose-key” vs. “fixed-key” design
- • scales/tuning
- • beaters
- • playing style
In general, xylophones found in West Africa tend to be _______ instruments,whereas in East Africa _______ instruments predominate.
1. range = almost three octaves; # of keys = 14. Pentatonic (5-tone) scale.
a. keys: wood
b. resonators = gourds. Buzzing timbre is created by cutting holes in gourds and placing thin tissue paper over the holes.
c. fixed-key design: frame to hold keys/resonators
• played by one player, seated, usually with two beaters, ‘soft’ ends. Some use of multiple beaters in one hand has been documented.
• bars struck in center
- 1. range = 2 octaves + 2 keys; no. of keys = 12. Pentatonic (5-tone) scale
- 2. design
- a. keys: wood
- b. no resonators!
- c. loose-key design: bars are not permanently affixed to a frame. Rather,when played, a frame is constructed ad hoc.
- 3. performance
- • played by three people with hard sticks. Interlocking technique employed.
- • bars struck on edges
cultures are located in the forest regions of equatorial Africa. They are primarily organized as hunter-gatherer societies, and as such are nomadic. this group groups do, however, visit and stay in villages (permanent settlements) occasionally. these groups are highly cooperative, and have egalitarian social structures.
- Vocal music is the core of Pygmy musical culture:
- • Instruments are few and simple
- • This is due to the environment, and to the nomadic lifestyle; instruments are made of simple materials that occur in the forest, and sometimes can even be discarded after use.
Features of Pygmy vocal music
- • Ostinato and hocket technique
- • Call & response
- • Yodeling
- • Dense, layered sound of many people/musical lines at once; “leadership”constantly shifting
In Pygmy cultures, music is an ______. Music-making generally is notrestricted; in other words, any member of society is welcome to participate.
There are cases in which restrictions or limitations exist in terms of music-making. The reading mentions for example the ______, used to“wake up the forest.” Here the primary singers are men.
is an artisan; specifically, a “shaper of sound (words and music).”
The jeli, jobs
as a musician, public speaker,oral historian, praiser, advisor, chronicler of events, is an important figure inMande culture
jeli can be either
male or female
The Mande broadly recognize two social classes:
specialized skill workers (craftspeople)
“ordinary” people – formers, merchants, those who work in cities, and alsothe aristocracy in past eras
designates those who rely on a specialized craft as a profession. In Mande culture this means metal smiths, wood and leather workers, andmusicians, known by the term jeli. The ‘material’ that the musician works with is not the musical instrument, but the word, whether spoken or sung.”
including the jeli, are low in the social hierarchy, but atthe same time regarded with awe and respect due to the power of their specializedknowledge
There are three areas of specialization for jeli
- speech, song, and instrumental playing.
- typical a jeli picks one
- All aspiring jelis learn the three areas at first, but as they mature they select their area of specialization
A jeli receives training from the
the parent first, but then is also expected to study with other masters.
certain musical instruments are reserved for the jeli. Only a jeli is permitted toplay the
balafon (xylophone), the kora (21-stringed harp-lute), and the koni (small chordophone, similar to a banjo)
s regarded as an authoritative source of knowledge for the culture.
a jeli who specializes in speech (kuma)
Who may become a jeli?
one must be born into a jeli family.
Jeli families control entrance intothe profession by strict rules of intermarriage (a practice known as
The vocalist in Ala L’a Ke alternates between two styles of vocal delivery:
melody. This style sounds like melodic singing
“declamatory style”. Sataro sounds more like regular speech. Pitches maystill be sung, but the delivery is more rapid and less lyrical.
The kora player keeps a groove – an ostinato pattern – under the singing most of the time.This is called
But during breaks in the singing, the kora player may perform.
These often sound like rapid, cascading flurries of notes.
birimintingo – breaks
are located in West Africa, primarily in the coastal regions of Ghana and Togo.
is an important musical activity among the Ewe, and indeed throughout the West African region.
can be understood simply as dance or movement that is accompanied by percussion music.
Often, there is a __________ between the drumming rhythms and the dance movements for Dance-drumming; that is, the dancers and musicians may influence each other, or may need to react to one another, during the performance.
Among the Ewe, dance-drumming repertoire is preserved and perpetuated by:
- • clubs
- • mutual aid societies
- • school groups
- • professional, state-sponsored troupes
Most music and dance is learned through the process of ________, as opposed toformal lessons
is learning through slow absorption without formal teaching.
The name Agbekor translates to
Agbekor is called
The prefix “atsia” means
War was the original impetus for Agbekor performances. It had two functions in thiscapacity:
- 1. If performed prior to war, it would fill the hearts of warriors with bravery
- 2. If performed after battles, it served as a means of communication. Warriors coulddescribe through the music great deeds, or perhaps the details of the death of aleader or chief.
A performance of agbekor typically involves many elements:
- • the drumming
- • costumes
- • choreography. Agbekor is a strict dance that is rehearsed meticulously untilperfected. Dance movements are reminiscent of war activities.
- • singing. Numerous, different songs may be sung during a performance, whichmay last two to three hours.
It is very common for instruments in an Ewe percussion ensemble to correspond to one off our functions. The four functions are:
- A. timekeeper
- B. emphasis of the timekeeper
- C. supporting drums
- D. lead drum
provides the timeline structure for agbekor. The rhythmic patternprovides the unifying structure for all elements of the performance—music, singingand dance. The pattern will cycle continuously, never changing. It cannot change,because it provides the fundamental structure of the music.
Other instruments in the ensemble will sometimes directly emphasize the bell rhythm;also sometimes these instruments will merely assist in the creation of the music-temporal experience (what we might call the ‘groove’).
Emphasis of the timekeeper
typically play an ostinato pattern, but they may have specificvariations that are possible
supporting drums Some comments on these variations:
- 1) variations are learned or known in advance by the performers
- 2) they may be used spontaneously, or in response to cues from the lead drum
- 3) they typically retain the character of the original rhythmic pattern
is the most important drum in the ensemble. Its function is to provideaural cues/signals to the musicians/dancers, leading the performance. In essence, the lead drummer is the leader of the ensemble. Any improvisation in the drummingmusic that occurs is the purview
is evident in Agbekor
occurs when listeners can perceive two,unrelated metric structures in a single piece of music.