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Session #2: Intro to African American Music
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Session #2: Intro to African American Music

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  • 1. Shedding Light on the Dark Continent Introduction to African American Music September 10, 2013
  • 2. Africa by the Numbers • Population nearing 1 billion people • 56 countries • There are over 3,000 ethnic groups in Africa – More than 370 in Nigeria alone • Pre-colonialization Africa had nearly 10,000 states/autonomous groups • Nearly 85% of the African population is affiliated with Christianity or Islam
  • 3. Today’s Objectives • Attempt to wrap our minds around the vast diversity of African culture and music • Develop of framework for thinking about African-derived music • Consider the “imagined” Africa and its musical legacy
  • 4. European Colonizers • Portugal • England • Germany • Belgium • Spain • France • The Netherlands
  • 5. Slave Ports of Africa
  • 6. The People and The State • Colonies are constructs designed to maximize access to resources for the colonizers. They are not drawn based on the residence of ethnic group boundaries. • African nation states are similar to colonies in that they are politically-driven imposed on groups of people that strive to unite ethnic groups under a new national identity
  • 7. Music of Africa
  • 8. A Word about Transcription
  • 9. Olly Wilson’s Heterogenous Sound Ideal
  • 10. Rhythm The tendency to approach the organization of rhythm based on the principle of rhythmic and implied metrical contrast-a tendency to create musical events in which rhythmic clash or disagreement of accents is the ideal, and cross- rhythm and metrical ambiguity are the accepted, expected norm. (It is this conceptual approach that accounts for the quality of "swing" that Duke Ellington celebrated, which is the result of the "clash" or contrast that occurs on either a rhythmic or metrical level.)
  • 11. Percussive Timbre The tendency to approach singing or the playing of any instrument in a percussive manner -a manner in which qualitative stress accents are frequently used.
  • 12. Call and Response The tendency to create musical forms in which antiphonal, responsorial, or call-and-response musical structures abound. These responsorial structures frequently exist simultaneously on a number of different architectonic levels.
  • 13. High Density The tendency to create a high density of musical events within a relatively short musical time frame -a tendency to fill up all the musical space.
  • 14. Music + Movement The tendency to incorporate physical body motion as an integral part of the music making process.
  • 15. Imagined Africa • Dress • Religion • Tattoos • Language • Musical appropriation • Renaming
  • 16. Ethnmusicological Analysis • Brief bio of artist – Age – Ethnic group – Country of origin • Select a song (or songs) and think about how that artist manifests his/her ethnic/country/African identity