AFRICA: Africa World Press Guide
compiled and edited by WorldViews
THE MUSIC OF AFRICA
Breadth and diversity
The music of Africa cannot be squeezed into one mold. There is the traditional music of drums (perhaps the predominant musical reference point in the minds of Westerners); there is the modern or popular music of Mali's Ali Farka Tour
e, Nigeria's King Sunny Ade and his African Beats, and South Africa's Ladysmith Black Mambazo. In fact, as musicologist John Storm Roberts has observed, "there's no way to write coherently about the music of a continent covering 52 independent nations, be
tween 800 and 1600 languages (depending on your definition), and at least five major cultural groupings."
"For the majority of Africans, music remains live and closely tied to their daily lives. The fact that this existence is now under threat from war, famine, invasion and western cultural imperialism in no way diminishes the continuing contribution which
Africa makes to the enrichment of our daily lives."
--Ronnie Graham, The Da Capo Guide to Contemporary African Music, p. 15
Roberts, who is founding director of Original Music (Tivoli, N.Y.), is responsible for the World Music chapter of the All Music Guide: The Best CDs, Albums, and Tapes (Erlewine and Bultman 1992). The Africa portion of the World Music chapter (pp
. 776-795) illustrates the breadth and diversity of African music with a representative sampling of musicians and annotated musical selections displayed under country headings that run from Algeria to Zimbabwe. In his column-long overview of African music
and brief introductory essay on world music Roberts highlights the beauties of world and African music ("enriching beyond belief") and issues the necessary cautions against dividing the musical world into The West and The Rest.
World Music: The Rough Guide (Broughton et al. 1994) is a useful complement to the All Music Guide. The latter is stronger in its annotated lists of individual recordings, while the strength of World Music lies in its long and informe
d narrative overviews of the musical traditions of the Mediterranean and Maghreb (chapter 3), West Africa (chapter 6), Central and East Africa (chapter 7), and Southern Africa (chapter 8). Sidebar material on individual artists and musical instruments and
discographies of selected recordings round out each chapter.
Scottish historian Ronnie Graham has produced two classic guides to African music: Stern's Guide to Contemporary African Music (Graham 1988) (published in the United States as The Da Capo Guide to Contemporary African Music, New York: Da
Capo Press, 1988) and The World of African Music: Stern's Guide to Contemporary African Music (Graham 1992). Graham's guides are organized by country (North African countries are not included), with a map, brief historical introduction, and overvie
w of each country's traditional and modern musical heritage. Graham provides a biographical sketch of key musicians in each country category, along with a short list of recommended musical titles (with date, distributor code, and order number).
The All Music Guide, World Music: The Rough Guide, and the Graham books are the places to look for informed and trustworthy recommendations of African musical titles on compact discs, records, and cassette tapes. Catalogs from distributor
s and mail order outlets are another source, though the reliability of recommendations will vary.
Two complementary bibliographical guides to African music were published in 1991 by Greenwood Press and Hans Zell Publishers:
- John Gray's African Music: A Bibliographical Guide to the Traditional, Popular, Art, and Liturgical Musics of Sub-Saharan Africa (Gray 1991) is an authoritative reference guide to books and other printed resources about African music. Gr
ay, who is the director of the Black Arts Research Center (Nyack, N.Y.), organizes the 5,802 entries in African Music into six sections: cultural history and the arts; ethnomusicology; African traditional music (general works; country and regional
studies); African popular music (general works; country and regional studies; individual musicians); African art music; and African church music. Three appendixes list other reference works, archives and research centers, and selected commercial recording
s (organized under country headings).
- African Music: A Pan-African Annotated Bibliography (Lems-Dworkin 1991) is noteworthy for its coverage of music from the entire continent of Africa, including its islands, as well as of African-influenced music of the Western Hemisphere. Editor
Carol Lems-Dworkin explains that she is convinced "that African music should not be treated as a thing in itself, but [should be] regarded as the integral part of culture it truly is, playing a major role in African education, history, politics, social l
ife, and frequently associated with religion, dance, art, theater, and oral performance."Another study by the same author is entitled Videos of African and African-related Performance: An Annotated Bibliography (Lems-Dworkin 1996).
General reference guides and textbooks with information on African popular music are
- Directory of Recorded Sound Resources in the United Kingdom (Weerasinghe 1989);
- Afropop! An Illustrated Guide to Contemporary African Music (Barlow and Eyre 1995);
- The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Vol. 1. Africa (Stone 1997);
- The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Clarke 1989);
- Popular Musics of the Non-Western World: An Introductory Survey (Manuel 1988); and
- the quarterly magazine Schwann Spectrum.
Studies of African music
Recommended studies on various aspects of African music include
- Contemporary African Music in World Perspectives (Kofie 1994);
- African Stars: Studies in Black South African Performance (Erlmann 1991);
- Breakout: Profiles in African Rhythm (Stewart 1992);
- Jùjú: A Social History and Ethnography of an African Popular Music (Waterman 1990);
- The Music of Africa (Nketia 1974);
- Perspectives on African Music (Bender 1989);
- More than Drumming: Essays on African and Afro-Latin Music (Jackson 1985);
- Studies in African Music (Jones 1959); and
- Where Is the Way: Song and Struggle in South Africa (Kivnick 1990).
In the Time of Cannibals: The Word Music of South Africa's Basotho Migrants (Coplan 1994) and A Song of Longing: An Ethiopian Journey (Shelemay 1994) are case studies of music in two distinct African environments, immigrant mine workers f
rom Lesotho and the Falashas of Ethiopia.
Dancing Prophets: Musical Experience in Tumbuka Healing (Friedson 1996) is focused on the Tumbuka of Malawi, while South Africa and Sierra Leone, respectively, are the locations for two other studies: Nightsong: Performance, Power, and Practi
ce in South Africa (Erlmann 1996) and Seeing with Music: The Lives of Three Blind African Musicians (Ottenberg 1997).
Studies that set African music in a broader cultural and geographical context include
- A Night in Tunisia: Imaginings of Africa in Jazz (Weinstein 1993);
- Music and Black Ethnicity: The Caribbean and South America (Béhague 1994);
- The Rhythms of Black Folk: Race, Religion and Pan-Africanism (Spencer 1995); and
- Muntu: African Culture and the Western World (Jahn 1989).
For biographical information on African musicians see Eileen Southern's Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians (Southern 1982) and Stapleton and May's African All-Stars: The Pop Music of a Continent (Stapleton and May
Africa's musical personalities are featured in Breakout: Profiles in African Rhythm (Stewart 1992) and Musicmakers of West Africa (Collins 1985).
- Three Kilos of Coffee (Dibango 1989) is the autobiography of Manu Dibango, composer, producer, performer, film-score writer, and the first African musician ever to record a top 40's hit.
- Tears over the Desert (Kaujeua 1
994) is the story--simply told--of Namibia's foremost singer, Jackson Kaujeua.
- Makeba: My Story (Makeba and Hall 1987) chronicles the life and international musical career of one of Africa's best known artists: Miriam Makeba.
Four recommended curriculum guides that open up the riches of African music are:
- Exploring African Music (Bradshaw 1990);
- Let Your Voice Be Heard! Songs from Ghana and Zimbabwe (Adzinyah et al. 1986);
- Music of West Africa (Wiggins 1993); and
- Songs and Stories from Uganda (Serwadda 1987).
Major distributors of world and African music
- africassette (Detroit)
- Allegro Imports (Portland, Ore.)
- Capitol Records (Hollywood)
- Celluloid Records (New York, N.Y.)
- Celluloid/Mélodie (Paris)
- Gallo (Johannesburg)
- GlobeStyle (London)
- Green Linnet Records (Danbury, Conn.)
- Koch International (Westbury, N.Y.)
- Ladyslipper (Durham, N.C.)
- Mango (New York, N.Y.)
- Natari Music of Africa (W. Sussex)
- Original Music (Tivoli, N.Y.)
- Realworld (London)
- Rogue Records (London)
- Rounder Records (Cambridge, Mass.)
- Rykodisc/Hannibal (Salem, Mass.)
- Shanachie Records (Newton, N.J.)
- Smithsonian/Folkways(Washington, D.C.)
- Stern's African Record Centre (London)
- World Circuit (London)
- World Music Institute (New York, N.Y.)
See the discography below and the listings of recordings in the books cited above for the names of other distributors. Addresses for U.S. distributors may be found in the back of editions of Schwann Spectrum. Addresses for distributors in Europe
and the U.K. are given in annual editions of Kemps International Music Book (Showcase Publications, annual).
Compiled by B. D. Colwell, producer, Simnadé, Music from Africa,
KVMR-FM (Nevada City, California)
- Africa Dances. Original Music
- Africa Never Stands Still. Ellipsis Arts
- Various. Sounds of Sudan. World Circuit
- Ali Hassan Kuban. From Nubia to Cairo. Shanachie
- Musicians of the Nile. From Luxor to Isna. Real World
- Oum Kaisoum. (Anything you can find.)
- Various. Songs and Rhythms of Morocco. Lyrichord
- Khaled. N'ssi N'ssi. Mango
- Djur Djura. Best of...Luaka Bop
- Various. Songs and Rhythms of Morocco. Lyrichord
- Master Musicians of Jajouka. Apocalypse Across the Sky. Axiom
- Khalifa Ould Eide and Dimi Mint Abba. Moorish Music from Mauritania. World Circuit
- Various. Zimbabwe Frontline. 1 and 2. Earthworks
- Thomas Mapfumo. Shumba. Earthworks
- Stella Chiweshe. Ambuya? Shanachie
- Bhundu Boys. Shabini. Discafrique
- Ghorwane. Majuragenta. Real World
- Orchestra Marrabenta. Independence. Piranha
- Various. Madigasikara. 1 and 2. Globestyle
- Various. World Out of Time. 1 and 2. Shanachie
- Rossy. One Eye on the Future.... Shanachie
- Tarika Sammy. Fanafody or Balance. Green Linnet
- Various. Songs the Swahili Sing. Original Music
- Zuhura Swaleh. Shani. Globestyle
- Various. The Tanzania Sound. Original Music
- Geoffrey Oryema. Exile. Real World
- Samite. Pearl of Africa Reborn. Shanachie
- Various. Before Benga. 1 and 2. Original Music
- Various. Guitar Paradise of East Africa. Earthworks
- Various. Kenya Dance Mania. Earthworks
- Ayub Ogada. En Mana Kuoyo. Real World
- Various. Jamiila: Songs from a Somali City. Original Music
- Various. Music of Ethiopia. Caprice
- Various. Ethiopian Groove. Blue Silver
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