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Music of Africa 1: Geographic Aspects

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This brief presentation introduces some basic information about the geographic aspects of African music. It also contains information on the famous Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji, (1927–2003) including a link to the musical work entitled “Oya” from the Olatunji's landmark 1960 album entitled “Drums of Passion.”

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Music of Africa 1: Geographic Aspects

  1. 1. Music of Africa Part I: Geographic Aspects
  2. 2. Music of Africa Part I: Geographic Aspects This presentation is part of the online course, Music In World Cultures.
  3. 3. To optimize your viewing of this presentation, please click on the “full screen” icon in the lower right corner of the presentation window.
  4. 4. Please click on the underlined link below to hear music that has been selected to accompany this presentation. A YouTube video should open in a new tab when you select the link. After it opens, please return to the tab that contains this presentation and continue to view the slides. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41p2a0zqMMY
  5. 5. Generally speaking, the music of Africa can be divided into two broad geographic categories: • North African • Sub-Saharan
  6. 6. Pioneering ethnomusicologist Arthur Morris Jones (1889–1980) observed that the shared rhythmic principles of Sub-Saharan African music traditions constitute one main system throughout that entire region of the continent.
  7. 7. Similarly, master drummer and scholar C.K. Ladzekpo affirms the profound homogeneity of the rhythmic principles of Sub-Saharan African music.
  8. 8. Within Sub-Saharan Africa, the musical styles and influences can be divided into four regions: • West Africa • Eastern Africa • Southern Africa • Central Africa
  9. 9. The Eastern Region (green regions on map) includes the music of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe as well as the islands of Madagascar, the Seychelles, Mauritius and Comor. Many of these have been influenced by Arabic music and also by the music of India, Indonesia and Polynesia.
  10. 10. The Southern Region (brown region on map) includes the music of South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia and Angola.
  11. 11. The Central Region (dark blue region on map) includes the music of Chad, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia, including Pygmy music.
  12. 12. West African music (yellow region on map) includes the music of Senegal and the Gambia, of Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Liberia, of the inland plains of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, the coastal nations of Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo as well as islands such as Sao Tome and Principe.
  13. 13. Southern, Central and West Africa are similarly in the broad Sub-Saharan musical tradition, but draw their ancillary influences, primarily from Western Europe and North America.
  14. 14. The music you are listening to is entitled “Oya” from the landmark 1960 album entitled “Drums of Passion” by the Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji (1927–2003)
  15. 15. Babatunde Olatunji was born in 1927 the village of Ajido, a small town near Badagry in southwestern Nigeria. A member of the Yoruba people, Olatunji was introduced to traditional African music at an early age.
  16. 16. Olatunji read in Reader's Digest magazine about the Rotary International Foundation's scholarship program. He applied and was granted the scholarship. He came to the United States in 1950, where he attended Morehouse University in Atlanta, GA.
  17. 17. After graduating from Morehouse in 1954 with a degree in Diplomacy, he went on to New York University to study public administration. While a student at NYU, he started a small percussion group to earn money on the side while he continued his studies.
  18. 18. Almost immediately, Olatunji’s performances began to attract fans and followers. Some of the greatest jazz musicians of the time, such as John Coltrane, Clark Terry, Count Basie and Duke Ellington became Olatunji fans.
  19. 19. Olatunji soon became the most prominent African musician in America – and in the world. In 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr., also a fan of Olatunji, invited him to go on tour with him through the American south. Olatunji also joined Dr. King in the March on Washington in 1963.
  20. 20. Olatunji ‘s following among jazz musicians, most notably the legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, enabled him to found the Olatunji Center for African Culture in Harlem, NYC. This was the site of John Coltrane's final performance in 1967.
  21. 21. The album, Drums of Passion, has sold more than 5 million copies, making it one of the highest-selling albums of its kind in the history of the recording industry.
  22. 22. Olatunji was known for making impassioned speeches for social justice before performing in front of live audiences. His progressive political beliefs are outlined in his book, The Beat Of My Drum: An Autobiography, published in 2005, two years after his death at age 75.

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