Jun 25, 2018 in Research

African Music

This essay is going to be centralized on the African Music from the book “Music in West Africa: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture” authored by Ruth Stone. This will detail the content and the meaning behind the music and how they reflect to the social standards and culture of the locals in West Africa. This will help explain how ethnomusicologist concepts of how African music is shaped by the community interaction and how it metaphorically serves an illustration of the social life of the natives of this areas.

Question 1

In the book Stones (Pp 12) attests that West African usually is idiomatically diverse and usually unified with the social life of the natives of this region. Usually the songs are representation of the African expression mode heterogeneity. The song displays the traditional way of leaving through arrays of event which gravitate the listeners to certain ceremonies and vocal practices which are still initiated up to date. This helps the pursuant of this book to capacitate the contemporary understanding of the African musical scene, thus insight is gained on the expected outcome from the music on how it has effect on the daily social and personal life of the native of West African. Thus this will have shed light to the theory of majority of ethnomusicologists whom articulate that African song usually portrays the real experience of social and personal life experience of the natives of Africa. Here Stone (Pp, 87) exemplifies how African music which she acclaims is soothing and comforting as it human centeredness and portrays a kinship and community sense based on daily living, work and cultural beliefs.

Question 2

Stone description of qualitative time as related to the aesthetic of social resonance can be gravitated from the concept of how other people saw the Bushman music. The experience which they felt from the music from this region, this is because usually the music was basically characterized with calmness and moderation of feeling. Thus although the revelers articulated that the music had some element of dissonance they actually appreciated without knowing a single word that bushman were singing (Kubik, Pp 48). One explorer Father Denis de Carli is quoted in this book saying that “from afar the harmony is graceful but at a closer glance it is harsh and ungrateful which leads to confusion from the beating of several sticks.” However, the most appealing aesthetic experience is how very slight is the bushman notion of melody, time here is of the essence as each participant keeps time for each performance. The rhythm and beat are in accordance with the dancer even when beating the sticks. The time duration of the performance which Stone calls quantitative time because there is no exact documented time of the duration of the songs, this was centralized on the equal pulse base and incorporate it with a steady musical beat which is the foundation of how this music rhythm are formulated. This equal pulse base is what Stone calls the quantitative evaluation of time (Stone, Pp 98).

Question 3

While comparing and contrasting the traditional status of the Jali with the traditional status of the drummer in Manding society, then it is good to note that Jalis are professional praise singers and dancers in the Manding community. This art is usually performed by women whereas drumming was mostly done by men (Kubik, 120). Jalis usually convey historical message of the culture of certain historical event where drummer just produce beats. Jalis are from certain selected families whom are very zealous of their trade and not every member of the community is allowed to practice. However, drummer although an art any person capable of producing a rhythm from a drum could participate. The jail family members are all assumed Jalis from birth and they are highly respected and valued. The drummers were just ordinary people from the lower social standing in the community not much respected or valued as the Jalis whom are viewed in a celebrity status.  The Jalis before the demolition of traditional kinship in the 19th century by the French were attached to the royal courts. They were viewed as historian as they guarded the history of the Manding community through epic songs and stories. They were also offered great historical names to redeem history through these stances. The drummers leaved with the rest of the community and had no place with the royals as it was considered a taboo to associate with people of lower social standing if one is from a wealthy family. Jails offered praises and drummers just produced rhythms to dance or sing. Jalis also had the upper hand of being go between and mediate on important social affairs like arranging marriages, mediating political and economics affairs and patch up disagreement and quarrels. This affairs that the jails perform a drummer was not allowed to even attend in most cases unless there are performing with the jails.     

Question 4

Bender wrote “The revolutionary cultural policy [of Guinea] was able to accomplish with much greater efficiency what the colonial attack on traditional culture was not able to achieve” (Stone, 9) meaning that traditional culture which had been developed over the years was able to revolutionize the citizens of Guinea more than the Spanish who had colonized them. The traditional culture had been in existence for long and has been fully developed especially on use of music in the society which was much effective on influencing development of the culture to the communities which were living in Guinea as compared to colonial instructions on what should be done with an aim of changing their life style and practices.

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