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The influence of the music of West Africa can be found in music elsewhere. Griots, who are wandering musicians, are found throughout the region.
There are commonly drums found in West African music. The main types of drums in Western Africa are the Djembe and the Talking Drum. Also an instrument named the Balafon is very often found in West African music, such as Yiri. There are String instruments found throughout the region. These include the Kora, Ngoni, Adjalin and the Xalim
West Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations defines Western Africa as the 16 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, the Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo, as well as the United Kingdom Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. The population of West Africa is estimated at about 362 million people as of 2016, and at 381,981,000 as of 2017, of which 189,672,000 are female and 192,309,000 male.
A djembe or jembe is a rope-tuned skin-covered goblet drum played with bare hands, originally from West Africa. According to the Bambara people in Mali, the name of the djembe comes from the saying "Anke djé, anke bé" which translates to "everyone gather together in peace" and defines the drum's purpose. In the Bambara language, "djé" is the verb for "gather" and "bé" translates as "peace."
The balafon is a gourd-resonated xylophone, a type of struck idiophone. It is closely associated with the Mandé peoples of West Africa, particularly the Guinean branch of the Mandinka ethnic group, but is now found across West Africa from Guinea to Mali. Its common name, balafon, is likely a European coinage combining its Mandinka name bala with the word fôn 'to speak' or the Greek root phono.
A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater including attached or enclosed beaters or rattles struck, scraped or rubbed by hand or struck against another similar instrument. The percussion family is believed to include the oldest musical instruments, following the human voice.
The traditional music of Africa, given the vastness of the continent, is historically ancient, rich and diverse, with different regions and nations of Africa having many distinct musical traditions. Music in Africa is very important when it comes to religion. Songs and music are used in rituals and religious ceremonies, to pass down stories from generation to generation, as well as to sing and dance to.
The music of the Dominican Republic is primarily influenced by West African, European, and native Taino influences. The Dominican Republic is mainly known for its merengue and bachata music, both of which are the most popular forms of music in the country.
The music of Nigeria includes many kinds of folk and popular music, some of which are known worldwide. Styles of folk music are related to the multitudes of ethnic groups in the country, each with their own techniques, instruments, and songs. Little is known about the country's music history prior to European contact, although bronze carvings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries have been found depicting musicians and their instruments. The largest ethnic groups are the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba. Traditional music from Nigeria and throughout Africa is almost always functional; in other words, it is performed to mark a ritual such as a wedding or funeral and not to achieve artistic goals. Although some Nigerians, especially children and the elderly, play instruments for their own amusement, solo performance is otherwise rare. Music is closely linked to agriculture, and there are restrictions on, for example, which instruments can be played during different parts of the growing season.
The Music of Mali is, like that of most African nations, ethnically diverse, but one influence predominates; that of the ancient Mali Empire of the Mandinka. Mande people make up 50% of the country's population, other ethnic groups include the Fula (17%), Gur-speakers 12%, Songhai people (6%), Tuareg and Moors (10%) and another 5%, including Europeans. Mali is divided into eight regions; Gao, Kayes, Koulikoro, Mopti, Ségou, Sikasso, Tombouctou and Bamako.
A hand drum is any type of drum that is typically played with the bare hand rather than a stick, mallet, hammer, or other type of beater.
While lying on the enriched continent of Africa, Equatorial Guinea has proved to be entrenched in ancient rituals and songs. This is especially true for the Fang, a people whose territories begin at the southern edge of Cameroon south of Kribi, Djoum, and Mvangan in the South Province and continue south across the border, including all of Rio Muni in Equatorial Guinea, and from there south into Gabon and Congo. The capital island of Bioko has largely been influenced by Spanish customs and traditions during the colonial period, when education and health services were developed in the country.
Equatorial Guinea's culture has been less documented than most African countries, and commercial recordings remain scarce.
Guinea is a West African nation, composed of several ethnic groups. Among its most widely known musicians is Mory Kanté - 10 Cola Nuts saw major mainstream success in both Guinea and Mali while "Yeke Yeke", a single from Mory Kanté à Paris, was a European success in 1988.
Developed and used by cultures living in forested areas, drums served as an early form of long-distance communication, and were used during ceremonial and religious functions.
Chad is an ethnically diverse Central African country in Africa. Each of its regions has its own unique varieties of music and dance. The Fulani people, for example, use single-reeded flutes, while the ancient griot tradition uses five-string kinde and various kinds of horns, and the Tibesti region uses lutes and fiddles. Musical ensembles playing horns and trumpets such as the long royal trumpets known as "waza" or "kakaki" are used in coronations and other upper-class ceremonies throughout both Chad and Sudan.
The shekere is a West African percussion instrument consisting of a dried gourd with beads or cowries woven into a net covering the gourd. The instrument is common in West African and Latin American folkloric traditions as well as some of the popular music styles. In performance it is shaken and/or hit against the hands.
Dunun is the generic name for a family of West African drums that have developed alongside the djembe in the Mande drum ensemble.
A slit drum is a hollow percussion instrument. In spite of the name, it is not a true drum but an idiophone, usually carved or constructed from bamboo or wood into a box with one or more slits in the top. Most slit drums have one slit, though two and three slits occur. If the resultant tongues are different width or thicknesses, the drum will produce two different pitches. It is used throughout Africa, Southeast Asia, and Oceania. In Africa such drums, strategically situated for optimal acoustic transmission, have been used for long-distance communication.
The atenteben (atɛntɛbɛn) is a bamboo flute from Ghana. It is played vertically, like the European recorder, and, like the recorder, can be played diatonically as well as chromatically. Although originally used as a traditional instrument, beginning in the 20th century it has also been used in contemporary and classical music. Several players have attained high levels of virtuosity and are able to play Western as well as African music on the instrument.
African music traditions exhibit so many common features that they may in some respects be thought of as constituting a single musical system. While some African music is clearly contemporary-popular music and some is art-music, still a great deal is communal and orally transmitted while still qualifying as a religious or courtly genre.
The akonting is the folk lute of the Jola people, found in Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau in West Africa. It is a banjo-like instrument with a skin-headed gourd body, two long melody strings, and one short drone string, akin to the short fifth "thumb string" on the five-string banjo.
African Journey: A Search for the Roots is a blues album by an American historian Samuel Charters and an attempt to trace the roots and influences of American blues from the 1920s and 1930s back to the tribal music of West Africa. He draws connections and similarities through song content and instrument type and usage. In 1974 he traveled the length of the crescent from Senegal to Nigeria. He then returned to travel up the Gambia River to a slave pen at Jang Jang Bure. His travel path emulated the paths of slave traders. All the musical performances were recorded by means of a tape recorder. The album was released as a double vinyl set. Volume One contains songs performed by historians as well as celebratory songs from The Gambia, Senegal, and Mali. Volume Two consists of funeral processions, dances, and songs from Ghana, Togo and The Gambia.
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