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AFRICAN MUSIC - PowerPoint Powered By Docstoc
        African Music in Society
• Music plays a very important role in African
  societies and is used to communicate many
  different feelings and emotions.
• Music is always part of any social gathering such
  as celebration festivals (harvest), birthdays,
  weddings or funerals.
• There are over fifty African nations, each with their
  own tradition, and so music in this area of the world
  is extremely rich, colourful and diverse. There are,
  however, some common elements including
  repetition, improvisation, polyphony and call &
       African Drumming
• The drum is one of the most popular and
  highly regarded instruments in Africa.
• There are many different types of drum and
  their names vary from one region to another.
• The drums can be played on their own but are
  more frequently heard in large ensembles, led
  by the master drummer.
• Another prominent instrument in African
  drumming is an Atoke. This is a bell which
  sounds at a much higher pitch than the drums
  and helps to keep the musicians in time. Two-
  toned cowbells (or agogo bells) are also
  occasionally used.
           Playing techniques…
• A range of pitches and timbres can be produced by
  playing the drums in different ways:
• with sticks
• with the hand - to produce slap (the hand strikes
  the edge of the drum with the fingers spread), tone
  (the hand strikes the edge of the drum with the
  fingers together) and bass (the head of the drum is
  hit with the flat of the hand) sounds
• by stretching the skin before hitting it
• leaving the hand or stick on the skin
• striking the wood of the drum
• African Drumming is an oral
  tradition. This means that
  the music is memorised
  and not learnt form
  notation. Students learn by
  listening, observing and
   The Master Drummer…
• Sets the initial speed and mood of the
• Decides when to speed up or slow down
• Decides when rhythms should change and
  individual solos should happen
• Signaling changes in dynamics
• Deciding when the music ends
      Musical characteristics…
• Polyrhythms - many rhythms being played
  at once
• Call and Response - the Master Drummer
  drums a rhythm and the rest of the tribe
• Cueing - The master drummer signals a
  change to the rest of the tribe through a
  drumming pattern of vocal cry
• Cross Rhythms - conflicting rhythms with
  accents in different places
• Syncopation - accenting weaker beats over
  stronger ones
           African Singing
• African music is centred around singing.
  Many Africans believe the music is a link to
  the spiritual world. Everyone takes part,
  whether they have a good singing voice or
• Songs provide a means for communication.
  African languages are tonal – the pitch level
  (high or low) determines the meaning of the
Common features of African Songs…
• Call and response
• Melodies are short and simple, and repeated over and
• Melodies normally use between four and seven notes
• Performers can improvise new melodies while other
  singers sing the original melody. Common to have
  different melodies sounding simultaneously, producing
  a polyhphonic texture.
• Songs are often sung in rounds
• Harmony varies from tribe to tribe. Sometimes, voices
  only sing in unison or octaves. However, other groups
  will freely harmonise and can sing in three or four parts.
              Instrumental Music
•   Membranophones (have a skin - drums)
•   Idiophones (resonant/solid)
•   Aerophones (wind)
•   Chordophones (strings)
•   Body percussion (hand clapping/ foot stamping,
    vocal effects such as shouting and other vocables

• Common features of African instrumental music
  include: Repetition (including ostinato),
  Improvisation, Cyclic structures, Polyphonic
  textures and Intertwining melodies