In our seventh article following our armchair travels, we focus our attention on Africa, sometimes called ‘The Mother Continent’. Africa is the oldest inhabited continent, the source of the world’s longest river (the Nile), home to the world’s oldest university (the University of Karueein, Morocco), the kingdom of the world’s richest man (Mansa Musa, or Musa I of Mali, 1312 – 1337 AD), the world’s largest desert (the Sahara) and the place where the largest, fastest and tallest animals live (the African elephant, the cheetah and the giraffe).
Against this backdrop of natural phenomena, we now turn our attention to the culture and music of Africa. Music in Africa is very important when it comes to religion where songs and music are used in rituals and ceremonies. Music is also used to pass down stories from generation to generation, as well as to sing and dance to.
A distinguishing factor of African music is the call and response form; where one voice or instrument plays a short melodic phrase or rhythm, which is echoed by another voice or instrument. African music is also highly improvised. A core rhythmic pattern is typically played, with musicians then improvising new patterns over the original ones.
And so, as we explore African music, we will examine the music of Africa past and the challenges of the present day. Finally, we will focus on three African pianists who are celebrating their African heritage.