Music In The African Culture Is More Than Just A Song
Music has traditionally played an important role in African culture. It is essential in representing the strong African heritage and its importance can be seen in many aspects of the culture. Unlike many cultures today, ancient African cultures encompassed music into their everyday lives. Dance, storytelling and religious practices are all grounded on the music of the culture.
Music is especially vital in African dance, so much so that in many African cultures, there are no two words in the language used to distinguish between the two. Essentially, when one uses the term music in reference to African culture, it should include the idea of dance. And unlike many western civilisations, in the African culture, music and dance means so much more than something done just to have a good time.
It has a much greater purpose. For many cultures, a dance is commonly between two people. In the African culture, a dance is usually done by a community or group and for a specific purpose.
The idea of Utilitarianism suggests that the value of a thing depends on its use, and not its beauty. In many ways, African music is a utilitarian function used in vital aspects of life such as, a child’s naming ceremony, initiation rites, agricultural activities, national ceremonies, war times, religious ceremonies and ceremonies for the dead.
Besides using the voice, which has been developed to use various techniques such as complex hard melisma and yodel, a wide array of musical instruments are used. African musical instruments include a wide range of drums, slit gongs, rattles, double bells as well as melodic instruments like string instruments, such as: musical bows, different types of harps and harp-like instruments such as the Kora as well as fiddles, many kinds of xylophones and lamellophones; like the mbira, and different types of wind instrument like flutes and trumpets.
Drums used in African traditional music include talking drums, bougarabou and djembe in West Africa, water drums in Central and West Africa, and the different types of ngoma drums (or engoma) in Central and Southern Africa. Other percussion instruments include many rattles and shakers, such as the kosika, rain stick, bells and wood sticks. Also, Africa has lots of other types of drums, and lots of flutes, and lots of stringed and wind instruments. (African Music)
Groups such as the traditional Setswana dance group from Botswana have been instrumental in championing African music and dance.
Another example is the Zanla Forces War Songs. ZANU is the Zimbabwe African National Union, the political wing of the Maoist faction of the majority-rule movement in Zimbabwe in the 1970s; the militant wing being ZANLA, the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army.
They and ZAPU—the Zimbabwe African People’s Union, the Soviet backed faction (with its Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army, ZIPRA) used song to stir up the masses. These are songs of the struggle. Most of their songs, recorded in the soldier camps sometime in the 1970s, most likely in Mozambique, contain folk songs, church songs and European choral music with the words changed to spread the revolutionary message. The idea was to use songs familiar to the people, allowing for easy teaching.