1-20 of 59 items

  • Abbreviation: "AfM" x
Clear all

Article

Anthony King

revised by Roger Blench

Because of its great tonal flexibility, the hourglass pressure drum is sometimes referred to as ‘the talking drum’, but in many parts of Africa not only do all kinds of drum ‘talk’, but so also do various wind instruments, string instruments and certain rattles and other idiophones. See also Hourglass drum.

In general the term includes any drum (including the Slit-drum) that is beaten in such a way that certain features of an unvocalized text can be recognized by a listener, these features acting as clues to the meaning of the words being drummed. The two main instances in which a drum is used in this way are in signalling and in musical performances especially in part of Africa (for illustration, see Ghana, Republic of). The textual features most commonly reproduced on a drum are syllabic tone, stress and quantity, and phrase or sentence intonation and rhythm, but not all of these are used in any one culture or on any one occasion....

Article

Kora  

Roderic C. Knight

[korro, cora]

A large 21-string bridge-harp played by the male jali or jeli, professional musician of the Mande people of The Gambia, Senegal, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Mali (fig.1). The profession, called jaliyaa, also encompasses verbal arts such as oratory, genealogy and historical narrative, and women performers (sing. jali muso) excel as singers (see also Gambia, Republic of The).

The kora is similar in size and range to the guitar, but in sound it resembles the Egyptian plucked zither qanun. In appearance, it is unique. The body is made of a large half-calabash, about 40–50 cm in diameter, covered with cowhide to form the soundtable. The body is ‘spiked’ or pierced by a stout wooden pole, about 120–30 cm long, which forms both the neck and tailpiece. The player may sit or stand, but optimum resonance is achieved when the tailpiece rests on the floor. The player holds the instrument with the soundtable facing him, the calabash dome facing the listeners, and the neck towering above him. The cowhide forming the soundtable also extends part way over the gourd, and this portion is studded with decorative chrome tacks and cut with a soundhole to one side of the neck. The strings, extending downwards from collars along the neck, diverge into two planes and pass over notches on either side of a tall bridge mounted on the soundtable. Below the bridge the strings are knotted to anchor strings with a weaver’s knot, and the anchors in turn are looped around an iron ring in the tailpiece. From a frontal aspect, the player’s hands are barely visible as he holds lightly the dowel-like handgrips parallel to the neck and plucks the strings with forefingers and thumbs....

Article

J.H. Kwabena Nketia

[formerly Gold Coast]

Coastal West African country. It has 19·93 million people (2000 estimate) and an area of 238,540 km². Its musical traditions reflect the variety of musical styles found in West Africa, for, although Ghana is a comparatively small country, it is made up of several ethnic groups that have historical, cultural or linguistic affinities with societies beyond its borders (fig.1). The Northern and Upper regions of the country, which are occupied by about two and a quarter million people, form part of the savanna belt of West Africa and belong to the Sudanic cultural area. The rest of the country, consisting of the rain-forest belt and the coastal plains, belongs to the so-called Guinea Coast area.

About 36 different languages are spoken in Ghana, although only six of these are cultivated officially as written languages. Of these, Akan, in the form of its Twi and Fante dialects, is the most widely spoken. It is also the language whose cultural expressions, including music, have had the greatest impact on other Ghanaian societies....

Article

Rüdiger Schumacher

(b Grieskirchen, Sept 13, 1933). Austrian musicologist. He studied musicology (with Erich Schenk and Walter Graf) and anthropology at the University of Vienna from 1953, and took the doctorate with Graf in 1964. After completing the Habilitation in 1972 at Vienna he succeeded Graf in 1973 as professor of comparative musicology, a post he held until his retirement in 1999. From 1983 he was a corresponding member of the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften and he was president of the Österreichische Gesellschaft für Musikwissenschaft, 1986–90. His scholarship is based on the traditions of the Viennese school of comparative musicology, including its celebrated techniques for sound analyses of vocal styles, and the fundamental questions concerning the relationship between psychology, acoustics and music. He has also examined Country and Western music. The Festschrift Vergleichend-systematische Musikwissenschaft: Beiträge zu Methode und Problematik der systematischen, ethnologischen und historischen Musikwissenschaft (ed. E.T. Hilscher and T. Antonicek, Tutzing, ...

Article

Roger L. Hewitt

The music of the Khoisan-speaking people of southern Africa, a semi-nomadic people with a tradition of hunting and gathering. They were historically referred to as ‘Bushmen’, a name that many still prefer. To avoid negative connotations associated with this term, the Nama name ‘San’ has also been used, though this is now considered by some to be even more derogatory. The primary social unit of the people is a band usually consisting of between 20 and 50 members related either by blood or by marriage. They have no leaders or formal legal institutions, and their mode of social organization is among the most simple and egalitarian known.

The most common musical instrument used by the Bushmen is the (goma g!oma) or (nao n!ao) mouth-resonated musical bow, which is usually a hunting bow: the string is stopped by the left hand while the right hand strikes the string with a small stick. Another instrument, the ...

Article

Cootje Van Oven

Country in West Africa. It has an area of 73,326 km² and a population of 4·87 millon (2000 estimate). Colonized by the British in the early 19th century, the state became independent in 1961 and a Republic in 1971. The population comprises the Mende in the south and the Temne in the north, with a number of smaller ethnic groups, including the Kissi, Malinké (Maninka), Fula (FulBe) and Krio.

Although Sierra Leone is a relatively small country, it has a rich variety of music. This is not only because it has different peoples, each with their own musical variety, but also because of their influence on each other. In addition, music is closely connected with dancing, drama, storytelling and the visual arts. Even carving and other arts and crafts are associated with music through the use of masks and costumes by dancers who act as the embodiments of certain spirits, and through the decoration of such instruments as the ...

Article

Anthony King

Hausa music in northern Nigeria, Federal Republic of stands in a select company of arts in West Africa that not only flourish within their own traditions but also extend their cultural hegemonies outside national boundaries. With its major creative centres in the cities and towns of the sultanate of Sokoto, the emirates of Katsina and Kano, and to a lesser extent those of Zaria and Bauchi, its audiences are found not only in Nigeria itself, but also in Niger, Chad, Benin, Ghana and Sierra Leone. Although regional differences often mark individual performances, Hausa music nevertheless exhibits an overall stylistic unity that separates it from the music of neighbouring cultures.

Early accounts of the music, that is from the time of its origins in the early Hausa kingdoms before the 16th century up to the arrival of the British at the turn of the 20th century, are rare. There is evidence, however, for a considerable, though perhaps superficial, North African influence up to and including the 18th century. Initially this influence reached the Hausa states via the empires of Songhai and Mali in the west, and Bornu in the east. Its major impact appears to have been on ceremonial music, which served the rising power of the Hausa states, especially on the fall of the Songhai empire at the end of the 16th century. Although our knowledge in this respect is almost wholly confined to the borrowing of instruments that originated in the Maghrib, in the case of ceremonial instruments, borrowings clearly went hand in hand with a transfer, although modified, of their role. Thus the ...

Article

David K. Rycroft

(Fr. arc-en-terre; Ger. Erdbogen)

A simple one-string musical instrument apparently found only in equatorial Africa (mainly in Côte d’Ivoire, the Central African Republic, Cameroon, northern Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda), also known as ‘ground bow’ or ‘earth bow’. It comprises a flexible stave planted in the earth with a string stretching from its free end to a soundboard of bark, plantain leaf, or something similar. The latter is secured above a small pit in the ground, the edges being weighted down by a ring of stones or earth or by a circle of pliable twigs held down by pegs. In Uganda, one variant form has the string pegged into the ground under the edge of a half-gourd.

Because it resembles a musical bow, this instrument is often referred to as a ‘ground bow’ or ‘earth bow’, but in its construction it is really a form of harp. In some varieties a rigid upright stake helps to support the flexible stave near its mid-point. The string may be either plucked or struck with a stick, sometimes by more than one performer. Among so-called pygmies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a second player drums on the cover of the pit with two sticks. Pitch variation is usually achieved by stopping the string between the thumb and forefinger of the left hand, but in some areas the string tension is altered....

Article

Kayanda  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

Open-ended conical drum of the Luba/Sanga people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The single head is pegged on and tuned with tuning paste. It is beaten by hand and is used for dance music, with the ditumba and mitumbwe drums.

BooneT, 59f J. Laurenty: ‘Les membranophones des Luba-Shankadi’, ...

Article

Gerhard Kubik

[Mwenda wa Bayeke ]

(b Bunkeya, 1930; d nr Lubumbashi, Sept 22, 1991). Congolese composer and guitarist. He began to play guitar at the age of 16 in Jadotville (now Likasa) in the Belgian Congo, and within a few years, by the 1950s, he had developed a highly individual style, the Katanga guitar style which he maintained, throughout his nearly 40-year career. He was discovered by South African musicologist Hugh Tracey on a field-trip to the Congo and was first recorded in Jadotville in 1952. That same year he received the first prize of the newly established Osborn Awards for the ‘best African music of the year’ for his composition Masanga njia. He began a full-time professional career, and by the late 1950s he was one of the most acclaimed composers of guitar-songs in Central Africa. From 1952 to 1962 Bosco recorded approximately 156 pieces for the Gallotone Company of South Africa. In ...

Article

W.W.C. Echezona

The music of the Igbo (or Ibo), who live in Nigeria, Federal Republic of, in an area bounded in the north by the Igala, the Idoma and the Tiv, in the west by the Edo or Bini, in the south and south-west by the Ijaw (Ijo), in the south-east by the Efik and Ibibio, and in the east by the borders with Cameroon (fig.1). Like the other two major ethnic groups in Nigeria, the Yoruba and the Hausa, the Igbo have had a considerable cultural influence not only on their immediate neighbours but also in other parts of the country and especially in Lagos.

The Igbo homeland varies from open grassland in the north and north-east to tropical rain-forest in the south. To some extent, these regional variations influence the materials available for the construction of instruments, which, in turn, controls their forms and distribution and helps to explain the variety and often extremely local provenance of musical practices....

Article

Gerhard Kubik

A term coined by George Montandon (1919) and adopted by André Schaeffner (1936) to refer to the Central African instrument also known as a bow lute (Hornbostel and Sachs, 1914; Wegner, 1984) of which there are two types. A pluriarc consists of a hollowed wooden resonator with strings running either parallel or slightly inclined to the soundboard. In contrast to harps and lutes, however, pluriarcs are not held by one string-bearer, but each string has its own flexible carrier. For this purpose, in the first type of pluriarc short arcs are inserted into a series of holes bored into the top wall of the resonator or, in the second type, they are attached to the back of the resonator and/or partly inserted. These differences affect the method of tuning.

The term ‘pluriarc’ for this class of instruments has been contested, as has the term ‘bow lute’, mainly due to the fact that both terms suggest an evolutionary sequence from musical bows consisting of ‘one arc’ to an instrument of ‘several arcs’. Jean Sebastien Laurenty was also reluctant but opted for the term ‘pluriarc’ (...

Article

Kwela  

Gerhard Kubik

Isizulu term for an urban musical genre popular in southern Africa during the 1950s and early 60s. According to South African musicologist Elkin Sithole, use of the term in music first occurred during the 1940s in connection with a new Zulu vocal music known as the ‘bombing style’ (Kubik, 1974, p.13; Rycroft, 1957, p.33). When the leader wanted the chorus to respond, he shouted ‘kwela’! ‘Kwela-kwela’ expressed the continuous responses of the chorus.

Kwela became associated with bands of flute-playing youths in South African townships in the 1950s. Under the influence of jazz records and cinema in the 1940s featuring North American big band jazz by Count Basie, Woody Herman, Lionel Hampton, Glenn Miller, Cab Calloway and others, the ambition of young boys was to emulate swing jazz with the means accessible to them. The reed and brass sections of the North American bands were represented by metal, end-blown flutes, locally called ‘pennywhistles’, and a new playing technique developed. The double bass was represented by a one-string skiffle bass made from a tea chest (see Benseler, ...

Article

Gerhard Kubik

(Fr. République du Cameroun)

Country in West Africa. It has an area of 475,440 km² and a population of 15·13 million (2000 estimate). The national languages are French and English, reflecting colonial legacy. Cameroon was a German protectorate until 1916, after which time four-fifths of the territory became a French mandate, and the remainder formed a British mandate. The French administration granted the territory independence in 1960 and the British in 1961, forming a joint territory.

Geographically, and in its ethnic and linguistic divisions, Cameroon is extremely varied. Dense tropical forests extend from the Atlantic coast to the south-eastern borders. The coastal and southern populations, for example the Duala, Beti, Bulu and Fang (Faŋ), and several ‘pygmy’ groups (notably in the area of Yokadouma), all speak Bantu languages. Among populations in the centre, from the Bamenda Highlands grassland in the west to Bétare Oya in the east, there is a patchwork of languages historically classified as ‘semi-Bantu’ or ‘bantoid’, but now grouped together with other Bantu languages as part of the greater Benue-Congo family. Further north, on the Adamawa plateau, long-established millet agriculturalists such as the Kutin (Peere), Chamba (Samba Leko) and others speak Adamawa-Eastern languages, as do the Gbaya on the eastern border. The FulBe (Fulɓe, Fulani or Fula) who migrated to the Adamawa area in the 19th century speak a West Atlantic language. Languages of the Chadic family in northernmost Cameroon are spoken by mountain dwellers such as the Matakam, and Saharan languages (e.g. Kanuri), are found among peoples living near Lake Chad in the north....

Article

Felicia M. Mundell

revised by John Brearley

Country in southern Africa. It has an area of 581,730 km² and a population of 1·62 million (2000 estimate). Its main inhabitants are the Tswana who are related to the Sotho of Lesotho and the Pedi of South Africa. Other peoples in Botswana include the Kalanga peoples of the north, who are related to the Shona peoples of Zimbabwe and the Khoisan of the Kalahari desert, who were formerly called ‘Bushmen’ (and many of whom still prefer to be so-called) and later referred to as ‘San’, a term that is now considered by some to be even more derogatory. Variations in the terrain, climate and vegetation have tended to mould and modify the tribal styles of music-making to suit both the environment and the temperament of local peoples. Vegetation further restricts the construction of instruments to those types for which the raw materials can be found locally, so that drums are generally found in forest areas, flutes where there are reeds and unaccompanied choral singing in open grass plains. These types of music-making are all found in Botswana....

Article

Tolia Nikiprowetzky

The Tuareg (sing. Targi), probably of Berber origin, are defined here as traditionally nomads who are widely dispersed over the middle of the Sahara and the Sahelian steppe-country, to the south of the desert. The estimated population of 500,000 are Muslims and have a hierarchical matrilineal social structure with several castes. The Tuareg are in permanent contact with their neighbours, both those of African origin to the south and those of Arab descent to the north, and maintain economic relations with these groups through barter. In spite of this, they have retained their cultural identity and their own language, Tamachek or Tamacheq (with its own script, Tifinar). Many features of Tuareg music are likewise quite distinct from those of its neighbours. In contrast with black Muslim societies, there are no professional musicians among the Tuareg, although certain members of the servant caste do at times profit from their gifts as singers or instrumentalists....

Article

Moya Aliya Malamusi and Moses Yotamu

Country in south-central Africa. It has an area of 752,610 km² and a population of 9·87 million (2000 estimate). It was a British colony from 1895 to 1953, and after 1911 it was known as Northern Rhodesia. Part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland from 1953 to 1963, it became an independent republic in 1964.

Except for small hunter-gatherer groups in the south-west who cross the borders with Namibia and Angola and speak a San language, all the peoples of present-day Zambia speak Bantu languages. Seven Zambian languages are officially approved by the Ministry of Education and are used in schools: Cinyanja (Nyanja), Icibemba (Bemba), Kaonde, Lunda, Luvale, Silozi (spoken by the Lozi) and Tonga.

Before 700 ce much of the south was occupied by San hunter-gatherers. When Bantu-language speakers migrated to areas of central and southern Zambia c300–400 ce from the north-east, Bantu-San interaction began. According to Gerhard Kubik (...

Article

Carole Pegg

[throat-singing, chant biphonique, chant diphonique, höömii]

A vocal style in which a single performer produces more than one clearly audible note simultaneously. In melodic overtone-singing styles, a drone is produced on the first harmonic or fundamental and a flute-like melody created from a series of upper harmonics or overtones. In non-melodic styles, overtones may occur because of the pitch of the fundamental drone combined with the vocal sounds being enunciated, for instance when Mongols sing the bass overtone-singing style harhiraa höömii or Tibetan dge lugs pa monks in Gyume and Gyütö monasteries chant using a profound bass in the chest register. Overtone-singing may also comprise a rich tapestry of harmonics without the presence of a drone.

Myths of origin vary. Tuvans believe that overtone-singing originates in lullabies sung by women dating back to the time when humans first inhabited the earth, or that it originates in the environment; Khalkha Mongols cite musical communications between natural phenomena and the effects of such sounds on humans. Both Tuvans and Mongols generally refute connections posited by Europeans of its relationship with Shamanism, Buddhism or the jew's harp. Given their beliefs about the spirits of nature, however, overtone-singing may traditionally have been linked to folk-religious practices....

Article

Maurice Djenda and Michelle Kisliuk

(Fr. République Centrafricaine)

Country in Central Africa. It serves as a link between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaïre), the Congo Basin and the Sudanic-Sahelian zone. It has a surface area of 622,436 km² and a population of 3.64 million (2000 estimate). The west of the country contains the largest concentration of population, while vast regions in the east remain uninhabited. The south-west has dense equatorial forests that receive large amounts of rainfall, favouring the growth of lush vegetation, including various medicinal plants. The people of the country live by subsistence agriculture and forestry. A great many commercial plants are grown, including coffee, cocoa, cotton and rubber, and the forests have been heavily depleted as a result of the exploitation of their wood during the last two decades of the 20th century.

Maurice Djenda

The population of the Central African Republic belongs to approximately 85 ethnic groups. Primary ethnic groups include the Banda, Manza and the Gbaya-Manza-Ngbaka in the centre and central-eastern part of the country; the Zande and Nzakara in the east; the Gbaya in the west; the Ngbaka, Bogongo, Isongo (Mbati), Kako and Mpyemo (Mpiemo) in the forested regions of the south-east; the Gbanziri and Yakoma along the banks of the Ubangi; and the Sara Kaba, Surma and Runga in the north and north-east (...

Article

Israel J. Katz

(b Birr, Ireland, Jan 17, 1882; d Law, Scotland, Dec 30, 1965). British musicologist, orientalist and conductor. He studied the violin, the clarinet, the piano and harmony, the last two with Vincent Sykes, organist of St Brendan's Church, Birr, where Farmer was a chorister. In London he studied with H.C. Tonking, Mark Andrews and F.A. Borsdorf and in 1895, while on holiday there with his father, he heard the Royal Artillery Orchestra conducted by Ladislao Zavertal; impressed by its performance, he joined as a violinist and clarinettist and after years of private study he served as its principal horn player, 1902–10. Forced by ill-health to abandon the horn, he began a conducting career at the Broadway Theatre, London (1910–13), while teaching music at various county council schools; he also founded the Irish Orchestra in London, which performed at the National Sunday League Concerts under his direction (...