Traces of African music can be found throughout the African Diaspora. This month was used to highlight some of the music those traces can be found in. You would be surprised where else you can find "traces of Africa", take a look around. -checktheshades
Blues, secular folk music created by African Americans in the early 20th century, originally in the South. The simple but expressive forms of the blues became by the 1960s one of the most important influences on the development of popular music throughout the United States.
Although instrumental accompaniment is almost universal in the blues, the blues is essentially a vocal form. Blues songs are lyrical rather than narrative; blues singers are expressing feelings rather than telling stories. The emotion expressed is generally one of sadness or melancholy, often due to problems in love. To express this musically, blues performers use vocal techniques such as melisma (sustaining a single syllable across several pitches), rhythmic techniques such as syncopation, and instrumental techniques such as “choking” or bending guitar strings on the neck or applying a metal slide or bottleneck to the guitar strings to create a whining, voice-like sound. -britannica
House, style of high-tempo, electronic dance music that originated in Chicago in the early 1980s and spread internationally. Born in Chicago clubs that catered to gay, predominantly black and Latino patrons, house fused the symphonic sweep and soul diva vocals of 1970s disco with the cold futurism of synthesizer-driven Eurodisco. Invented by deejay-producers such as Frankie Knuckles and Marshall Jefferson, house reached Europe by 1986, with tracks on Chicago labels Trax and DJ International penetrating the British pop charts. In 1988 the subgenre called acid house catalyzed a British youth culture explosion, when dancers discovered that the music’s psychedelic bass lines acted synergistically with the illegal drug ecstasy (MDMA, or 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, a hallucinogen and stimulant). -britannica
musical form based on Afro-Cuban music but incorporating elements from other Latin American styles. It developed largely in New York City beginning in the 1940s and ’50s, though it was not labeled salsa until the 1960s; it peaked in popularity in the 1970s in conjunction with the spread of Hispanic cultural identity.
The roots of salsa (Spanish: “sauce”) are in the son. Combining elements of the Spanish guitar-playing tradition with the rhythmic complexity and call-and-response vocal tradition of African musical sources, the son originated in rural eastern Cuba and spread to Havana in the first decades of the 20th century. Highly syncopated, it employs an “anticipated” rhythm structure wherein the bass line precedes the downbeat by a half-beat, creating a distinctive pulse. Pioneered by bandleader Arsenio Rodríguez, the sonbecame the framework on which was hung a wide variety of dance-oriented Afro-Cuban musical styles, from the bolero to the conga and from the rumba to the mambo. -britannica
-checktheshades , hybrid
music that blends rhythms and percussion instruments of Cubaand the Spanish Caribbean with jazzand its fusion of European and African musical elements.
Latin jazz was the result of a long process of interaction between American and Cuban music styles. In New Orleans around the turn of the 20th century, Latin American musicinfluenced the city’s early jazz style, endowing it with a distinctive syncopated (accents shifted to weak beats) rhythmic character. A well-known pianist and composer of the time, Jelly Roll Morton, referred to that Latin influence as the “Spanish tinge” of jazz. Early in the 20th century, several American musicians adopted the Cuban habanera rhythm (a syncopated four-beat pattern) in their compositions; most notably, W.C. Handy used it in his “St. Louis Blues” (1914). -britannica
-checktheshades , also called , a style of
Ragtime, propulsively syncopated musical style, one forerunner of jazz and the predominant style of American popular music from about 1899 to 1917. Ragtime evolved in the playing of honky-tonk pianists along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers in the last decades of the 19th century. It was influenced by minstrel-show songs, blacks’ banjo styles, and syncopated (off-beat) dance rhythms of the cakewalk, and also elements of European music. Ragtime found its characteristic expression in formally structured piano compositions. The regularly accented left-hand beat, in 4/4 or 2/4 time, was opposed in the right hand by a fast, bouncingly syncopated melody that gave the music its powerful forward impetus.
Scott Joplin, called “King of Ragtime,” published the most successful of the early rags, “The Maple Leaf Rag,” in 1899. Joplin, who considered ragtime a permanent and serious branch of classical music, composed hundreds of short pieces, a set of études, and operas in the style. Other important performers were, in St. Louis, Louis Chauvin and Thomas M. Turpin (father of St. Louis ragtime) and, in New Orleans, Tony Jackson. -britannica
music, which can include digital sampling (music and sounds extracted from other recordings), is also called hip-hop, the name used to refer to a broader cultural movement that includes rap, deejaying (turntable manipulation), graffiti painting, and break dancing. Rap, which originated in African American communities in New York City, came to national prominence with the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” (1979). Rap’s early stars included Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J, Public Enemy (who espoused a radical political message), and the Beastie Boys. The late 1980s saw the advent of “gangsta rap,” with lyrics that were often misogynistic or that glamorized violence and drug dealing. Later stars include Diddy, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, OutKast, Eminem, Kanye West, and Lil Wayne. -britannica
-checktheshades , musical style in which rhythmic and/or rhyming speech is chanted (“rapped”) to musical accompaniment. This backing
genre of atmospheric down-tempo music, influenced by movie sound tracks, 1970s funk, and cool jazzand usually created using samples.
Coined by the British dance magazine Mixmag but rejected by many of its purported practitioners, trip-hop originated in Bristol, Eng., a West Country port known for its leisurely pace of life (see Creative Centres map: Bristol overview 1990). Spawned from the town’s postpunk bohemia, Massive Attack—a multiracial collective of deejays, singers, and rappers including Daddy G. (byname of Grant Marshall; b. Dec. 18, 1959, Bristol, Eng.), 3-D (byname of Robert Del Naja; b. Jan. 21, 1965, Brighton, Eng.), and Mushroom (byname of Andrew Vowles; b. c. 1968)—created Blue Lines (1990), widely regarded as the first trip-hop album. Citing influences from Isaac Hayes’sorchestral soul and the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s jazz-rock (see also John McLaughlin) to the dub reggae of Studio One, Massive Attack talked of making music for “chilling out” at home rather than for dancing—hence the torrid tempos of trip-hop. -britannica
Hip-hop, cultural movement that attained widespread popularity in the 1980s and ’90s; also, the backing music for rap, the musical style incorporating rhythmic and/or rhyming speech that became the movement’s most lasting and influential art form.
Although widely considered a synonym for rap music, the term hip-hop refers to a complex culture comprising four elements: deejaying, or “turntabling”; rapping, also known as “MCing” or “rhyming”; graffiti painting, also known as “graf” or “writing”; and “B-boying,” which encompasses hip-hop dance, style, and attitude, along with the sort of virile body language that philosopher Cornel West described as “postural semantics.” Hip-hop originated in the predominantly African American economically depressed South Bronx section of New York City in the late 1970s. As the hip-hop movement began at society’s margins, its origins are shrouded in myth, enigma, and obfuscation. -britannica
Funk, rhythm-driven musical genre popular in the 1970s and early 1980s that linked soul to later African-American musical styles. Like many words emanating from the African-American oral tradition, funk defies literal definition, for its usage varies with circumstance. As a slang term, funky is used to describe one’s odour, unpredictable style, or attitude. Musically, funk refers to a style of aggressive urban dance music driven by hard syncopated bass lines and drumbeats and accented by any number of instruments involved in rhythmic counterplay, all working toward a “groove.”
The development of the terms funk and funky evolved through the vernacular of jazz improvisation in the 1950s as a reference to a performance style that was a passionate reflection of the black experience. The words signified an association with harsh realities—unpleasant odours, tales of tragedy and violence, erratic relationships, crushed aspirations, racial strife—and flights of imagination that expressed unsettling yet undeniable truths about life. -britannica
Zouk, popular dance music associated mainly with the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, as well as Saint Lucia and Dominica, all in the French Antilles (French West Indies). The music blends a variety of Caribbean, African, and North American music styles. It is characterized by frequent use of French Antillean Creole language, the prominence of electronically synthesized sounds, and sophisticated recording technology.
The French Antillean Creole term zouk was first used on the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique to refer to nightlong dance parties. The collective label for the various types of Caribbean music played at such parties was mizik zouk. Included in the mizik zouk rubric were the Haitian popular music styles known as compas and cadence, beguine from Martinique and Guadeloupe, and cadence-lypso, a hybrid of Haitian cadence and Trinidadian calypso popularized in Dominica in the 1970s. -britannica
Spiritual, in North American white and black folk music, an English-language folk hymn.
The black spirituals developed mostly from white rural folk hymnody. (Blacks and whites attended the same camp meetings, for instance, and black performance style possibly counterinfluenced the revival songs.) Many black spirituals thus exist in the white folk music tradition also, and many others have melody analogues in secular white American and British folk music. The borrowing of melodies with pentatonic (five-note) and major scales is especially prominent. In voice quality, vocal effects, and type of rhythmic accompaniment, black spirituals differ markedly from white ones. Black spirituals were sung not only in worship but also as work songs, and the text imagery often reflects concrete tasks.
Musically, it is believed that a complex intermingling of African and white folk-music elements occurred and that complementary traits of African music and white U.S. folksong reinforced each other. For example, the call-and-response pattern occurs in both, as do certain scales and the variable intonation of certain notes. Most authorities see clear African influence in vocal style and in the complex polyrhythmic clapped accompaniments. African tradition also included polyphonic and choral singing. The ring shout (a religious dance usually accompanied by the singing of spirituals and clapped rhythms) is of African ancestry.
After the Civil War the black spirituals were “discovered” by Northerners and either developed toward harmonized versions, often sung by trained choirs, or, conversely, preserved the older traditional style, especially in rural areas and certain sects.
Like the white gospel song, the modern black gospel song is a descendant of the spiritual and is instrumentally accompanied. Black gospel music is closely related to secular black music (as is the spiritual to the work song and blues) and often includes jazz rhythms and instruments alongside traditional clapped accompaniment and often dance. Though gospel songs are usually composed, the melodies are taken for improvisational bases in church services, as popular tunes are improvised upon in jazz. -britannica
Gospel music, a genre of American Protestant music, rooted in the religious revivals of the 19th century, which developed in different directions within the white (European American) and black (African American) communities of the United States. Over the decades, both the white and black traditions have been disseminated through song publishing, concerts, recordings, and radio and television broadcasts of religious services. In the later 20th century, gospel music developed into a popular commercial genre, with artists touring worldwide.
The tradition that came to be recognized as black American gospel music emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries alongside ragtime, blues, and jazz. The progenitors of the tradition, however, lie in both black and white musics of the 19th century, including, most notably, black spirituals, slave songs, and white hymnody.
The roots of black gospel music can be ultimately traced to the hymnals of the early 19th century. A Collection of Spiritual Songs and Hymns Selected from Various Authors(1801) was the first hymnal intended for use in black worship. It contained texts written mostly by 18th-century British clergymen, such as Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley, but also included a number of poems by black American Richard Allen—the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church—and his parishioners. The volume contained no music, however, leaving the congregation to sing the texts to well-known hymn tunes. After the Civil War, black hymnals began to include music, but most of the arrangements employed the rhythmically and melodically straightforward, unembellished style of white hymnody. -britannica
Kwela, (Zulu: “get up” or “climb”) popular upbeat urban dance music of South Africa. Coined by Elkin Sithole in the 1940s to refer to choral response in Zulu vocal music, the term kwela had been broadened by the 1950s to refer to the music of street bands featuring the pennywhistle, who also performed at township dances. Subsequently one or two acoustic guitars and a string bass (and sometimes other instruments) were added. The kwela repertoire came to include North American swing music, standard from the 1950s on. In the 1950s “Spokes” Mashiyane and Lemmy (“Special”) Mabaso were well-known kwela flute and saxophone players, and the style spread to what are now Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Malawi. In 1958 the kwela song “Tom Hark” as played by Elias & His Zig Zag Jive Flutes achieved international success. During the 1960s the Malawi musicians Donald and Daniel Kachamba became prominent. Other noted kwela flute players were “Big Voice” Jack Lerole, “Sparks” Nyembe, Jerry Mlotshwa, and Abia Themba. In the late 1960s kwela was overshadowed by the urban sound known as mbaqanga, but, with the rapid expansion of interest in world music at the turn of the 21st century, kwela experienced something of a resurgence. -britannica
Ska, Jamaica’s first indigenous urban pop style.
Pioneered by the operators of powerful mobile discos called sound systems, ska evolved in the late 1950s from an early Jamaican form of rhythm and blues that emulated American rhythm and blues, especially that produced in New Orleans, Louisiana. A new beat emerged that mixed the shuffling rhythm of American pianist Rosco Gordon with Caribbean folk influences, most notably the mambo of Cuba and the mento, a Jamaican dance music that provided the new music’s core rhythm. The boogie-woogie piano vamp characteristic of New Orleans-style rhythm and blues was simulated by a guitar chop on the offbeat and onomatopoeically became known as ska. The beat was made more locomotive by the horns, saxophones, trumpet, trombone, and piano that played the same riff on the offbeat. All the while the drums kept a 4/4 beat with bass drum accents on the second and fourth beats.
Because the history of Jamaican popular music is largely oral, contending claims of authorship were inevitable, but guitarist Ernie Ranglin’s claim that he invented the ska chop is generally regarded as plausible. Singers Derrick Morgan, Prince Buster, Toots Hibbert (of Toots and the Maytals), Justin Hinds, and the Dominoes became stars, but ska was primarily an instrumental music. Jamaica’s independence from British rule in 1962 left the country and ska in a celebratory mood. The music’s dominant exponents were a group of leading studio musicians--Don Drummond, Roland Alphonso, Dizzy Johnny Moore, Tommy McCook, Lester Sterling, Jackie Mittoo, Lloyd Brevette, Jah Jerry, and Lloyd Knibbs—and under McCook’s leadership they became known as the Skatalites in 1963, making several seminal recordings for leading producers and backing many prominent singers, as well as the fledgling Bob Marley and the Wailers. The Skatalites’ most distinctive musical presence was trombonist, composer, and arranger Drummond. A colourful figure who grappled with mental instability (he was institutionalized after murdering his girlfriend and died in confinement), Drummond was the central musician of the era, as essential to the development of ska as Marley was to reggae. -britannica
Highlife, type of West African popular music and dance that originated in Ghana in the late 19th century, later spread to western Nigeria, and flourished in both countries in the 1950s. The earliest form of highlife was performed primarily by brass bands along the Ghanaian coast. By the early 20th century these bands had incorporated a broader array of instruments (primarily of European origin), a vocal component, and stylistic elements both of local music traditions and of jazz. Highlife thus emerged as a unique synthesis of African, African American, and European musical aesthetics.
In the 1930s the popularity of highlife stretched inland and eastward along the coast, garnering an especially large following in Nigeria. There highlife experienced an important transformation: asymmetrical drum rhythms derived from traditional drumming practices of the Yoruba people were combined with syncopated (displaced-accent) guitar melodies to accompany songs sung in either Yoruba or English. By the mid-1960s, however, highlife had lost much of its audience to guitar-centred popular styles. One of these styles, a predominantly Yoruba-based outgrowth of highlife called juju, gained widespread international recognition in the 1980s and remained popular in Nigerian “hotels,” or nightclubs, into the 21st century. -britannica
Nigerian popular music that developed from the comingling of Christian congregational singing, Yoruba vocal and percussion traditions, and assorted African and Western popular genres. The music gained a significant international following in the 1980s largely owing to its adoption and promotion by the world-musicindustry. -britannica
Motown, in full Motown Record Corporation, also called Hitsville, recording company founded by Berry Gordy, Jr., in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., in January 1959 that became one of the most successful black-owned businesses and one of the most influential independent record companies in American history. The company gave its name to the hugely popular style of soul music that it created.
During the 1960s Motown became one of the reigning presences in American popular music, along with the Beatles. Gordy assembled an array of talented local people (many of whom had benefited from the excellent music education program at Detroit public schools in the 1950s) at 2648 West Grand Boulevard, destined to become the most famous address in Detroit. Serving as both recording studio and administrative headquarters, this two-story house became the home of “Hitsville.” Motown’s roster included several successful solo acts, such as Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder (a star as both a child and an adult), and Mary Wells. In addition to the Miracles, who notched Motown’s first million-selling single, “Shop Around” (1960), there were several young singing groups, including the Temptations, Martha and the Vandellas, and the Marvelettes. There also were a number of somewhat older groups that scored big, such as the Four Tops, the Contours, and Junior Walker and the All-Stars. A number of acts that were not developed by Motown wound up enjoying hit records during a stint with the company, including the Isley Brothers and Gladys Knight and the Pips. -britannica
Chimurenga, Zimbabwean popular music that delivers messages of social and political protest through an amalgam of Western popular styles and assorted musics of southeastern Africa—particularly those featuring the Shona mbira (thumb piano). With a Shona name that translates variously as “collective fight,” “struggle,” “uprising,” or “liberation war,” chimurenga music played a key role in rallying rural populations against the white-minority government during the struggle for black-majority rule during the 1960s and ’70s.
From its earliest days, chimurenga music has for black Zimbaweans been emblematic of nationalist sentiment—an icon of the strength, integrity, and modernity of black tradition. Creation of the style is generally credited to Shona musician and political activist Thomas Mapfumo, who spent the first decade of his childhood surrounded by traditional music in rural Southern Rhodesia (the British colony that would become Zimbabwe) and the bulk of his school years playing in an array of rockbands in Salisbury (now Harare), the capital city. By the time he was in his mid-20s, in the late 1960s, Mapfumo and the majority of black Zimbabweans were entwined in an escalating conflict with the white-minority government of the new, albeit unilaterally declared, independent Rhodesia. This political climate inspired Mapfumo to search for a new musical expression of Shona ideals and identity. Working from a rock-band foundation (electric lead and rhythm guitars, bass, and drum set), he subsequently made a series of linguistic, textual, and structural modifications to the music that ultimately became the hallmarks of chimurenga. -britannica
Soca, Trinidadian popular music that developed in the 1970s and is closely related to calypso. Used for dancing at Carnival and at fetes, soca emphasizes rhythmic energy and studio production—including synthesized sounds and electronically mixed ensemble effects—over storytelling, a quality more typical of calypso songs, which are performed for seated audiences.
The term soca (initially spelled sokah) was coined in the 1970s by Trinidadian musician Lord Shorty (Garfield Blackman), who sang calypso, a type of Afro-Trinidadian song style characterized by storytelling and verbal wit. According to Lord Shorty, the new music was meant to be a fusion of calypso with East Indian music, a reflection of Trinidad’s two dominant ethnic groups. Others, however, have explained the term soca as a contraction of “soul calypso,” emphasizing the music’s connection to African American and Trinidadian traditions.
Although soca is sometimes considered to be a subgenre of calypso—owing to the historical relation between the musics and their common association with Carnival—the two traditions differ in a number of notable respects. In practical terms, soca functions primarily as music for participatory singing and Carnival dancing, while calypso is more closely linked with performances for seated audiences in “tents” (indoor theatres). Indeed, the genre names calypso and soca formalize a distinction between tent and road (where Carnival dancers parade) that dates back to the 1910s, when singers first began to perform for paying audiences during the weeks leading up to Carnival. -britannica
Soul music, term adopted to describe black popular music in the United States as it evolved from the 1950s to the ’60s and ’70s. Some view soul as merely a new term for rhythm and blues. In fact a new generation of artists profoundly reinterpreted the sounds of the rhythm-and-blues pioneers of the 1950s--Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Sam Cooke, and Ray Charles—whose music found popularity among whites and was transformed into what became known as rock and roll. -britannica
Dancehall music, also called ragga or dub, style of Jamaican popular music that had its genesis in the political turbulence of the late 1970s and became Jamaica’s dominant music in the 1980s and ’90s. Central to dancehall is the deejay, who raps, or “toasts,” over a prerecorded rhythm track (bass guitar and drums), or “dub.”
The seductive chant of the dancehall deejay—part talking, part singing—came to prominence in the late 1970s but dates from as early as 1969, when U-Roy experimented with talking over or under a “riddim” (rhythm). This multimodal African diasporic style also is evident in the hip-hop music of North America, and the origins of both can be traced to West African performance modes. -britannica
Rhythm and blues, also called rhythm & blues or R&B, term used for several types of postwar African-American popular music, as well as for some white rock music derived from it. The term was coined by Jerry Wexler in 1947, when he was editing the charts at the trade journal Billboard and found that the record companies issuing black popular music considered the chart names then in use (Harlem Hit Parade, Sepia, Race) to be demeaning. The magazine changed the chart’s name in its June 17, 1949, issue, having used the term rhythm and blues in news articles for the previous two years. Although the records that appeared on Billboard’s rhythm-and-blues chart thereafter were in a variety of different styles, the term was used to encompass a number of contemporary forms that emerged at that time. -britannica
African popular music, body of music that emerged in Africa in the 1960s, mixing indigenous influences with those of Western popular music. By the 1980s the audience for African popular music had expanded to include Western listeners.
n common with the rest of the world, Africa was strongly affected by the instrumentation, rhythms, and repertoire from the Americas during the 1920s and ’30s, as radio and records brought new messages and ideas across the Atlantic Ocean. By the early 1960s, in parallel with each nation’s political independence from European colonialists, bandleaders across Africa modified their repertoire to accommodate adaptations of local folk tunes. In many cases, the bands’ electric guitars, amplifiers, saxophones, and drum kits were the property of hotel and club owners, who employed musicians in much the same way they did waiters and cooks, hiring them to play danceable music for up to eight hours every night. -britannica
Calypso, a type of folk song primarily from Trinidad though sung elsewhere in the southern and eastern Caribbean islands. The subject of a calypso text, usually witty and satiric, is a local and topical event of political and social import, and the tone is one of allusion, mockery, and double entendre.
The calypso tradition, popularized abroad in the late 1950s, dates to the early 19th century and was originally called caïso or cariso. During the carnival season before Lent, groups of slaves led by popular singers, or shatwell, wandered through the streets singing and improvising veiled lyrics directed toward unpopular political figures.
The poetic form follows that of the ballad: four-line refrains follow eight-line strophes (stanzas). The simple rhyme scheme is amply compensated for by the highly imaginative, original use of language. The singer-poet, who adopts a catchy stage name (e.g., The Mighty Spoiler; Lord Melody; Attila the Hun), incorporates Spanish, Creole, and African phrases into a lowbrow idiom utilizing newly invented colloquial expressions, such as bobol (graft), pakoti (unfaithfulness), and graf (girl). The exaggeration of local speech patterns, distorting the normal accentuation of the text, is matched by offbeat (syncopated) rhythm in the music, a familiar calypso trademark. The calypso singer either sets his verse to a stock melody or invents a tune of his own.
Favourite accompanying instruments are the shak-shak (maraca), guitar, cuatro (a string instrument), and tamboo-bamboo (bamboo poles of various lengths struck on the ground). Since World War II tuned oil drums, played together in orchestras called steel bands, have been very popular. -britannica
If I shall die before they wake, I pray the Lord my shades are safe.