By: Myron, Hansen
Africa is the second largest continent in this world.
It is about 30.2 million km2
Their main language is is African
It is considered the oldest continent with civilization
because of the fossils found.
It is a tropical country with an average of
World music is a general category of music composed
all around the world.
Each musical piece made in different countries will
have a certain beat or tone which is peculiar to today’s
It integrates all the different music cultures in the
world in one immense genre.
African music is an example of world music. It has a
very distinctive sound that is unique.
It has brought jazz, blues and the energy of pop to the
world by the slaves in America.
Traditional African music is passed down from
Despite their diversity, traditional African musical forms share some
common traits. The emphasis is placed more strongly on rhythms than
on melody and harmony.
Repetition is use as an organizing principle on top of which
improvisation is built.
African music is mostly performed by groups of musicians.
The most frequently used form in African musical traditions consists
of the use of repeated short musical phrases with the accompaniment
of melodic-rhythmic patterns.
African music is often used to transmit messages and ideas; and to
record and recount historical events. Consequently, the meaning of the
texts and their relation to the music is especially important.
How is African Songs used?
African music is used for rituals. Since the African
culture includes a lot of magic and Gods, songs are
used in traditional ceremonies to worship Gods. Ritual
songs have an Islamic influence, therefore playing
notable Islamic notes.
It is used on traditional festivals, celebrations and
Songs are used to tell stories to their younger
generations. The younger generations will eventually
learn the music.
African Music Instruments
Traditional African music relies heavily on the
Some instrument examples that are used in their songs
are xylophones, bongo and traditional “thumb piano”.
How They Learn African Music
An African child experiences music as an important
part of life from the very moment of birth.
Since there is little distinction between art and life in
Black African culture, children's play often consists of
activities involving music such as taking an empty tin,
an old window frame and a piece of animal hide and
constructing a 'frame-drum' as a musical toy.
African Music Components
Form: Ostinato, repeated short musical phrases with
the accompaniment of melodic-rhythmic patterns.
leader usually sings a phrase with a chorus singing
back a response
Rhythmic Structure: there are four basic elements.
They are an equal pulse base, a metric time
arrangement, a specific organizing principle unifying a
diversity of simultaneous rhythmic patterns together,
and an exact starting point for rhythmic groupings.
Texture: The texture is marked by the simultaneous
sounding of two or more pitches. There are many
instrumental and metric combinations. Ornamental
devices are used to create additional layers. There is
also movements or body percussion, such as hand
clapping, foot stamping, and dance.
Polyphony: African music is often used to transmit
messages and ideas, and to record and recount
historical events. The meaning of the texts and their
relation to the music is especially important. In the
The Zulu choral music of South Africa is an example of
vocal polyphony. When this music is performed,
individual voices will enter at different moments in a
cyclic and continuous manner, giving rise to a complex
and constantly shifting texture
Repetition: Most African composition is based on the
repetition of a musical unit. The units are structured
with great freedom relative to the main units,
producing their own rhythmic pattern that coincides
only occasionally with the basic pulse. For example, in
the mbira music of the Shona people of Zimbabwe,
there is a repeated pattern of various parts, and the
musician develops an improvisation out of this
Call and response: It is a form of music composition
where the a vocalist or instrumentalist will sing or play
a phrase and another vocalist or instrumentalist will
answer with another phrase creating a lively exchange.
Hocketing: The sharing of rhythmic or melodic lines
between two or more players, one part resting while
the other part performs a note or notes. An essential
element is integration, working together and
interlocking of the parts. Short groups of notes
between voices, instruments and timbres is a key
element in the polyphonic and polyrhythmic structure
that is distinctive to much of the music in sub-Saharan
Impact of African music
Africa has influenced folk and contemporary music in
In Latin America and Carribea, the rhythmic quality of
African music is prevalen, the samba, the salsa and the
meringueia are some music that resembles Africa
African music is a beautiful music which relies on
percussion and mainly repetition. This music
influences parts of music in America, trough the
slavery, travelers, and others.