Click on "Global Grooves ॐ for a detailed playlist and player. Featuring a mix of African Vibes, Global Grooves and Retro Rhythms. The music of Africa is as vast and varied as the continent's many regions, nations, and ethnic groups. The African continent comprises approximately 20 percent of the world's land mass. African music is as diverse as its cultures and peoples and has flowered in many indigenous forms as well as been shaped by foreign influences. For all the times that we’ve heard the phrase “African music,” it can be easy to forget that we’re talking about an entire continent here. The reality is that the African continent consists of more than 50 countries, different environments—from the deep desert of the Sahara to the central African rain forests—and radically different cultures—from ancient civilizations to modern metropolises. It’s way past time to move beyond our conception of African music as being based either on some kind of strange tribal drumming aesthetic, or the well-known artists like South Africa's Ladysmith Black Mambazo or Nigeria’s Fela Kuti. It turns out that many parts of Africa are home to some of the most cutting-edge music today, using technology in innovative new ways, or remixing tradition to give it new meaning in a modern world. Turns out, there’s a good reason that American artists like Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) and Jay Z are looking to African artists for inspiration. Although there are many different varieties of music in Africa, there are a number of common elements to the music, especially within regions. The concept of music in Africa, especially in sub-Saharan Africa bears a difference from other regions and cultures. The roles of music and dance are tightly woven together in sub-Saharan Africa, and music intersects with every aspect of life, expresses life through the medium of sound. By helping mark the important moments in life, music helps to underscore the divine and eternal value of human life.
Instruments and Style Similar musical instruments are found throughout most of Africa. However, the flora and culture found in any particular region influences the dominance of certain categories of instruments. Drums are for instance more popular in the forest regions of West Africa than in the tree-less savanna areas of southern Africa. Musical instruments often show a close link between sculpture and music. See the page on African Musical Instruments for more information on Instruments.
There is a great deal of homogeneity in the music of this vast continent but it is also clear that there are differences between regions and tribes. The cultures south of the Sahara have evidently carried on a lively exchange of music with the inhabitants of the northern part of Africa. There is also a large area of borderline cultures that are related. Much music is based on speech and the bond between language and music is so intimate that it is actually possible to tune an instrument so that the music it produces is linguistically comprehensible. Because music is a total expression of life, shared by all the senses, different cultures and lifestyles have significant influences on the music. In East Africa, the cultures are complex and revolve around cattle. The Khoi-San area of southern Africa has a simple culture dependent mainly on the nomadic gathering of food. The north-western African coast lacks cattle and is characterized by an elaborate political organization which, before the imposition of European rule, gave rise to powerful kingdoms. The west coast of Africa between the Khoi-San area and the north-western part has a combination of the east African and north-west African traits. A number of Pygmy tribes are still living in relative isolation in the jungle. The northern part of the continent is largely under the influence of Islamite musical culture. Music within each of these areas is more or less homogeneous, differing from the neighboring area.
The main characteristics of the west coast are the metronome sense and the accompanying concept of "hot rhythm", the simultaneous use of several meters, and the responsorial form of singing with overlap between leader and chorus. The central African area is distinguished by its great variety of instruments and musical styles and by the emphasis, in polyphony, on the interval of the third. East Africa has, for centuries, been somewhat under Islamite influence, though by no means to as great an extent as the northern half of Africa. Vertical fifths are more prominent here, and rhythmic structure is not so complex, nor are percussion instruments so prominent. The Khoi-San music area is evidently similar in style to East Africa, but has simpler forms and instruments. It contains a good deal of music performed with the hocket technique, as does the Pygmy sub-area of central Africa, which is also characterized by the presence of a vocal technique similar to yodelling.
The Popularization of African Music
The history of Africa and the movement of people into, out of and across Africa would indicate that many a cross-fertilization of musical influences affected African music. In spite of slavery and colonialism - or maybe because of it - the influence of African music has spread to every corner of the world and is flourishing back home. Millions of people were transported from Africa to the Caribbean and the Americas to work as slaves for the European colonists there. Unlike the slave population in North America, the South American slave population was more of Bantu origin (primarily from Angola and Mozambique), although Yorubas (from Nigeria) were also shipped in large numbers to Cuba and Brazil. Little original African music survived intact in the new world, but some distinctive instruments have been handed down, particularly the xylophone, the Berimbau and the Cuica of Brazil. In the Latin American countries of the Caribbean and South America, some African music was preserved as slaves were allowed to maintain their social identities and culture. Slaves were more often kept as tribal units. In South America and Cuba, African social music blended with the Portuguese and Spanish idioms already influenced by the North African Moors since they occupied Spain in the eighth century. Many new styles of music flourished in the Latin countries including Merengue and Beguine in the Caribbean and Tango, Candombey and Samba in South America. Rumba, Muntuno, Cha Cha Cha, Bolero and Salsa were other popular styles in this region. In the Caribbean many elements of European tradition influenced the music of the African slaves. Spanish, British, French and even Asian music influenced early Calypso. Calypso was heavily influenced by African work songs and the role of Calypsions can be likened to the role of the Griot in West African society. Soca followed calypso. Even though European instruments were used, the playing style often recalled African instruments such as the xylophone. Reggae developed through ska from soca when the West Indians absorbed American Rhythm and Blues (R&B;). Dub followed with a rock influence. In the USA, African music was virtually eliminated by slave owners. Slaves were mainly imported from the Mandingo, Wolof, Fanti, Ashanti, Yoruba and Calabari tribes of West Africa. Tribal groups were split up and drums were originally prohibited, but the American banjo is based on the West African gourd guitar. African work songs appropriately survived and slowly evolved into blues. New European instruments were taken up by the blacks. Jazz, which transformed European structured music with African techniques of interweaving rhythm and melodies, call-and-response patterns and 'vocalizing' with instruments, became the first all-American music form. Originally jazz was dance music, a fusion of ragtime piano style with blues, spirituals and the brass music of marching bands common at the start of the twentieth century. African-American dance music was also kept alive in the form of R&B.; The R&B; idioms fused with Country music and Ballads to become Rock and Roll. After jazz, rock and roll proved to be the most influential fusion but as it spread across the globe, it soon became ‚??white‚?ô music. Soul also developed out of R&B; fused with Gospel music. Many of the best Soul musicians developed their talents in church Gospel choirs. Funk and Rap followed. All of these various musical forms (but especially the Cuban rumba, the American soul and jazz, the Caribbean Merengue, Calypso, Reggae and Zouk) returned to Africa later and invigorated the local African music. "Western" music was introduced to Africa by visiting musicians, through record sales, and by radio. Many African musicians have of course toured the outside world and came across new musical instruments there, which they took home with them. Western instruments were followed by radio, and African popular music was born.
In southern Africa, an European musical tradition exists in parallel to the Black African one. It is interesting to note that much of the earlier Afrikaans folk music of the Cape has its origins in the Indonesian archipelago, resulting from the importation of slaves by the Dutch. Chinese and especially Indians imported into South Africa by the British had an impact on South African music also, as had the music of the native cultures. During the Afrikaner nationalist era, much music was "borrowed" from Europe, especially Germany. Today, mainstream Afrikaans and English popular music sounds very European or American to most listeners. The popular music of the continent is therefore in most cases the product of two parents, one African, the other external. African pop styles have become centralized, clustered around the main cultural or commercial centers, so there is 'Manding swing' or 'Electro griot' music from West Africa (between Senegal, Guinea and Niger), the 'Swahili sound' from East Africa (between Uganda and Tanzania), 'Jive' and Jazz from the south (around South Africa), Muslim music from the north (between Morocco and Egypt), Makossa and 'Liberation' music in between (the area between Cameroon and Gabon, and the area between Zimbabwe and Mozambique respectively), and pan-African syntheses like 'Highlife' and Congo-Zairean rumba or Soukous which have radiated furthest from their points of origin (the area between Sierra Leone and Nigeria and the Congo-Zairean area respectively). Of the many popular styles of music in Africa, these are really the only ones which have spread to new audiences outside their cultural base. Many other styles - too many to mention here - are prevalent throughout the continent.
It is often forgotten that prior to the European trade in African slaves, many slaves, especially from East Africa including Nubians and people from the Kenya region, were transported to the Arabian peninsula in the Arab slave trade. The Arab penetration into Africa started 1300 years ago. The voice, tonality and language of Islam have heavily influenced North African music, but also sub-Saharan African music in countries such as Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and even Tanzania and Madagascar. Later European invasions influenced this music again. Modern North African styles such as rai have established a keen following in Europe, and are influencing music in France especially.
The instruments of the Arab world and North Africa are believed to have been the original models for almost all Western instruments from the guitar and the violin to the trumpet and other wind instruments. Not many kinds of drums are used in Islamite music. The North African music today shows a cultural continuity which goes back to before AD 500. Classical Arab music itself was a fusion of pre-Islamite Arab music with Persian and Turkish elements. It is hoped that the musical traditions of Africa will survive and grow and that the popularity of African music will spread even further around the globe. Hopefully that will foster a better understanding and appreciation of Africa and its cultures amongst the extra-African cultures of the world.
World Music refers not to one specific style of music, but to a certain sensibility — namely, the fusion of disparate musical styles in ways that are only possible from a globalized, multicultural perspective. The results can range from Westernized pop or dance music to wild, genre-hopping experimentalism, but the central, unifying feature of worldbeat is that it's a conscious attempt to bring world music to a wider audience. Frequently, this involves modernizing traditional sounds with up-to-date technology, or borrowing the most relevant elements from Western pop and rock, which have spread all over the world and affected other nations' pop-music scenes to varying degrees. At its best, worldbeat can produce utterly unique hybrids and amazing eclecticism; other times, worldbeat artists have been savaged for uprooting traditional styles and diluting them for mass consumption. Although the rock world was by no means closed to outside influence, the Western audience for world music really started to take shape in the mid-'80s, when rock artists like Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, Mickey Hart, and David Byrne began to incorporate ethnic sounds into their recordings, and enthusiastically pursued high-profile collaborations with world-music artists. With the commercial possibilities presented by a greatly expanded potential audience, some artists began to tailor their music for international appeal. Although there were many exceptions, the majority of the worldbeat artists who achieved a measure of popularity in the West came from Africa, a continent whose music — to make a broad generalization — had already exerted a tremendous influence on Western popular music throughout the 20th century. Thus, the sounds of artists like Mory Kante, Salif Keita, and Youssou N'Dour were familiar enough to be appealing, yet different enough to be striking and intriguing. Other worldbeat performers use their broad range of musical knowledge to find similarities and common ground among different indigenous traditions from around the world — sort of the musical equivalent of comparative literature studies. Most Western-born worldbeat artists fall under this category, but a few — like England's 3 Mustaphas 3 — take a less academic approach, trumpeting their freewheeling eclecticism and accentuating the contrasts between the various styles of music they've assimilated. Worldbeat has never been a commercial blockbuster in the West, but some of the better-known styles include the popular music of West Africa and South Africa, North African rai, Bulgarian choral music, Scandinavian folk, Tuvan throat singing, various forms of Indian music (raga, dance, and film music), Pakistani qawwali, Spanish flamenco, Brazilian samba, and Argentinian tango, to name just a few that have made an impact among adventurous critics and record buyers. In the Western world, "World music" refers either to music that doesn't fall into the North American and British pop or folk traditions or to hybrids of various indigenous musics. Certain styles -- such as Jamaican reggae or Latin pop -- grew large enough to be classified as their own genre, but everything else, from traditional Chinese music to African folk, is classified as world music. Worldbeat is something different than world music, since it's usually the result of Western hybrids and fusions, yet it still falls under the world music umbrella because it borrows styles, sounds and instrumentation from various indigenous musics. Groovasmiques diverse and eclectic mix with upbeat global grooves runs daily featuring all kinds of Rhythms from around the world. Any and all styles may be featured from the wide world of music in all genre eclectic and diverse shows guaranteed to get "Granny" tapping her toes!!!!
Children are natural musicians, and exposure to music during the early years enhances the learning process by promoting language development, creativity, coordination, and social interaction. Caregivers can play an important role in incorporating music and movement into a child's life.It isn't necessary to play an instrument well or sing in tune to help young children appreciate musical sounds, and they should not be encumbered with the need to meet performance goals. In fact, music play (whether recorded or live) can be an enjoyable, developmentally appropriate activity regardless of musical aptitude.
Music for Infants and Toddlers. Music can contribute to a soothing environment for infants and toddlers and they soon begin to sort out musical sounds from other sounds. Caregivers can nurture a disposition for music in very young children and toddlers by chanting to them; imitating the sounds they make; rocking, patting, and moving along to the beat. Respectful planning is sensitive to children's interests and balances active and quiet music and movement times.
Music makes me want to move my body. Older preschool children can understand movement as a form of nonverbal communication as they begin to tell stories and express their feelings through body movements. They learn to imitate patterns of sound and rhythm and become aware of music in nature, for example whistling wind, chirping birds and crickets.
Once children start to use their voices to sing, it becomes important for them to listen carefully. At this stage, children enjoy songs that ask them to move and swing around, jump, twist, and clap their hands. Playing "follow-the-leader" allows them to mimic and learn the different ways their bodies can keep time with a song, and use of simple props will help children integrate music with movement -- toys and teddy bears can "dance" too!
Children respond favorably to music that is familiar. Playing a recorded song several times as background music can boost familiarity and build vocabulary as the lyrics are learned. Inventing new verses for familiar songs and spontaneous singing as they play can help children understand that music is a form of creative expression.
Making Music Musical instruments fascinate young children. Infants should be encouraged to make their own music by experimenting with rattles and bells. Drums, xylophones, and shakers can be enjoyed as children grow older and develop better motor skills. Instruments can also be created by using blocks, spoons, pots and pans, empty margarine tubs, and coffee cans
If given the opportunity, young children quickly realize that music communicates a variety of things, including feelings and ideas. They should feel free to explore and enjoy a wide variety of musical sounds and the body movements that music evokes. Whether singing and dancing to an old Beatles record, or playing a makeshift drum set, early exposure to music plays a fundamental role in a child's development.