African music

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African music,

the music of the indigenous peoples of Africa. Sub-Saharan African music has as its distinguishing feature a rhythmic complexity common to no other region. Polyrhythmic counterpoint, wherein two or more locally independent attack patterns are superimposed, is realized by handclaps, xylophones, rattles, and a variety of tuned and nontuned drums. The remarkable aspect of African polyrhythm is the discernible coherence of the resultant rhythmic pattern. Pitch polyphony exists in the form of parallel intervals (generally thirds, fourths, and fifths), overlapping choral antiphony and solo-choral response, and occasional simultaneous independent melodies. In addition to voice, many wind and string instruments perform melodic functions. Common are bamboo flutes, ivory trumpets, and the one-string ground bow, which uses a hole in the ground as a resonator. During colonial times, European instruments such as saxophones, trumpets, and guitars were adopted by many African musicians; their sounds were integrated into the traditional patterns. Scale systems vary between regions but are generally diatonic. Music is highly functional in ethnic life, accompanying birth, marriage, hunting, and even political activities. Much music exists solely for entertainment, ranging from narrative songs to highly stylized musical theater. Similarities with other cultures, particularly Indian and Middle Eastern, can be ascribed primarily to the Islamic invasion (7th–11th cent.). See gospel musicgospel music,
American religious musical form that owes much of its origin to the Christian conversion of West Africans enslaved in the American South. Gospel music partly evolved from the songs slaves sang on plantations, notably work songs, and from the Protestant hymns they
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; jazzjazz,
the most significant form of musical expression of African-American culture and arguably the most outstanding contribution the United States has made to the art of music. Origins of Jazz

Jazz developed in the latter part of the 19th cent.
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; spiritualspiritual,
a religious folk song of American origin, particularly associated with African-American Protestants of the southern United States. The African-American spiritual, characterized by syncopation, polyrhythmic structure, and the pentatonic scale of five whole tones, is,
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.

Bibliography

See A. M. Jones, Studies in African Music (2 vol., 1959); R. Brandel, The Music of Central Africa (1961); F. Warren, The Music of Africa (1970); F. Bebey, African Music (1972); W. Bender, Sweet Mother: Modern African Music (1991).

References in periodicals archive ?
MUSICAL PICNIC: PERCUSSION SPECIAL AT SYMPHONY HALL Join Goggie Ifill and Bethan Jones on a free adventure through the music of Africa using drums, percussion and singing, as well as creating a special freestyle performance.
The exhibition closing event will include a talk from Dr Amanda Villepastour, lecturer at the School of Music, Cardiff University, who has researched the music of Africa and the African diaspora.
He noted, for instance, that recording the music of Africa became his responsibility (and that of likeminded people) "only because we have found that the African is pathetically incapable of defending his own culture and indeed is largely indifferent to its fate".
The music of Africa and the African Diaspora have a long tradition of borrowing from each other.
CLINTON - A chance meeting in a music for dance class in college helped put Zach Combs on his career path, promoting the culture and music of Africa.
In an article published on 17 June 2005, Chris Thomson said: "In the mid-1980s when I was at university, my university used a song, "Hearing Only Bad News from Radio Africa" to introduce a weekly show that featured the music of Africa.
The music of Africa is presented in sections on West, North, East, Central, and Southern Africa, with an overview for each section combined with chapters devoted to closely defined topics such as the music of the Tuareg, music and poetry in Somalia, and praise singing in northern Sierra Leone.
Paper presented at an International Symposium on the Music of Africa, Princeton University, 2003.
Blues began in the Mississippi Delta" as an American form of music, the ambassador said, "but derives from the religious and spiritual music of Africa.
And there is a powerful leaning towards the music of Africa, of Cuba and of contemporary composers.
THE series examining the rich and diverse music of Africa tonight explores the Lisbon legacy.
Each boasts of 100-plus static-free channels of niche entertainment, ranging from 1970s and 1980s alternative rock to mellow alternative, the music of Africa, music of the 1950s, all Elvis, 1980s hair bands, outlaw country and island vacation music.