Afropop Guide



Example  1

artist:  Ali Farka Toure

country: Mali

song title:  Ai Bine (circa 6 minutes)

CD title:  The River

comments: a musician in the griot/jali lineage.  What is African about this Example ?  Note of the leisurely time sense, lack of harmonic or bass line progression, and the treatment of pitched instruments (guitar, bass) as single-note percussion instruments.  Relaxed polyrhythmic feel.


Example  2

artist:  Baaba Maal & Mansour Seck

country: Senegal

recording date: c. 1984-5

song title: Muudo Hormo (c. 6 min)

CD title:  Djam Leelii

comments: the guitars are obviously a European or American influence; what is African?  Note the nasal quality of the singing, the balaphone (a kind of xylophone, technically in the family of idiophones), the tuning of the balaphone is slightly different from standard Western tuning; there is a slow three against four polyrhythm.


Example  3

artist:  Salif Keita

country: Mali, France

date: c. 1995

song title: Tekere (c. 6 min)

CD title:  Folon . . . The Past

comments: another musician in the griot/jali lineage.  Call & response?  Downward melodic contour?


Example  4

artist: Ladysmith Black Mambazo

country: South Africa

song title:  Uzube Nami Baba

date:???  mid-1980s?

comment: Note the "Halleluja, Amen" at the end;  Christian influence.


Example  5

artist: Thomas Mapfumo

country: Zimbabwe

comments: guitar playing echoes mbira style.  Political lyrics denouncing corruption, advocating for black rule of Zimbabwe, which at the time was white-ruled Rhodesia.



Examples  6 & 7

Artist: King Sunny Ade & His African Beats

Country: Nigeria

CD: Aura

Comments: Stevie Wonder harmonica solo on #6; traditional percussion & some reggae influence. The genre is known as Juju.


Example  8

Artist: Paul Simon

Country: USA, recorded USA, SA

CD: Graceland, c. 1986


Examples 9-11

Artist: Angelique Kidjo, b. Benin.  Languages:  English, Fon

CD: Oremi, c. 1998, recorded in the USA & South Africa

Title, track 9:  Voodoo Child


Example  12

Composer: Steve Reich, American. 

Genre:  Art music

Title: Nagoya Marimbas

Comment: African conceptual influence (musical interest based on relations of shifting patterns)


A few questions to focus your listening:


Be able to name three traditional characteristics that continue in contemporary popular music in Africa.


Briefly identify or describe an example of musical ideas from different cultures being combined in the 20th-century.


Briefly identify an example of cross-cultural borrowing that is pre-20th-century.  (1-3 sentences)