Music of West Africa: Characteristics
- Music is used for a wide variety of purposes such as:
- Recreation - dancing, singing, drumming, concerts
- Rituals and ceremonies - celebrating the life cycle, tribal or national functions, medical rites, religious gatherings
- Occupational - work songs, preparing food
- Social - child care, story telling, social games, parties
- Language - drumming and signalling are used to send messages
- Master musicians, such as master drummers or master thumb piano players are common and represent the musical "stars" of African music. They often lead drumming, singing, and dancing activities. Younger children learn by apprenticeship.
- Most West African language are tonal, and musical patterns and names of instruments reflect this.
- West African music is one of the two musical systems (with European music) which has given birth to the many forms of American music such as jazz, rock, and other forms of popular music.
- West African musical style and practice:
- Almost all music is taught and learned orally/aurally.
- West Africans sing and play together easily; unity and teamwork is easily achieved.
- One of the most common forms is call and response. This common form carries over to African American spirituals, work songs, blues, and jazz.
- Ensembles of drums, bells, and rattles organize themselves around a time line, most often played by a bell which can cut through the drums, rattles, and singing.
- Off-beat phrasing called syncopation is common. This also becomes a hallmark of African American music.
- Music is a part of most activities and is frequently combined with other art forms such as dance.
- Buzzy (or raspy) tone quality is favored with both singing and on instruments. This has become the favored sound quality of African American music, jazz, and rock.
Take Time in Life Liberia1. I was passing by, My brother called to me,And he said to me, "you better take time in life."Take time in life, Take time in life, Take time in life, Far way to go.2. I was passing by, My sister called to me,And she said to me, "You better take time in life."Take time in life, Take time in life, Take time in life, Far way to go.3. I was passing by, The people called to me,And they said to me, "You better take time in life."Take time in life, Take time in life, Take time in life, Far way to go.
Banuwa LiberiaBanuwa, banuwa, banuwa yo. Banuwa, banuwa, banuwa yo.Banuwa, banuwa, banuwa yo. Banuwa, banuwa, banuwa yo.Alano, nehni alano. Alano, nehni alano.Alano, nehni alano. Alano, nehni alano.(The words mean: "Don't cry, pretty little girl, don't cry.")
Everybody Loves Saturday Night West Africa1. Ev'rybody loves Saturday night,Ev'rybody loves Saturday night,Ev'rybody, ev'rybody, ev'rybody, ev'rybody,Ev'rybody loves Saturday night,2. Bobo waro fero Sato deh. (Nigeria)3. Tout le monde aime Samedi soir. (French - spoken in many African countries)4. Sábado se ama todo el mundo. (Spanish)(What other languages can you add to this song?)
Last Modified on March 14, 2018