West African Music Assessment

Topics: West Africa, Dance, Atlantic slave trade Pages: 3 (828 words) Published: March 31, 2014
West African Music:
Music has always been an important part of life in West Africa. Music serves many functions in West African society. It communicates ideas, values, and feelings. It celebrates historic events and important occasions in people’s lives. For instance, there are songs for weddings, funerals, and ceremonies honouring ancestors. Among the Yoruba tribe of present-day Nigeria, mothers of twins have their own special songs. In Ghana, there are songs for celebrating the loss of a child’s first tooth. The musical traditions of West Africa continue to influence both African and world culture. West African Drumming:

Drums play an important role in West African culture. Drummers perform at parties, religious meetings, and ceremonies, such as weddings and funerals. West African drums are made of hollowed-out logs or pieces of wood. These are covered with animal skins. For example; the djembe drum, the doundoun set, the donno, the ‘Ewe’ drums ensemble, etc. Drummers in West Africa play in ensembles, or groups. The ensembles include different types and sizes of drums, along with bells and rattles. Drumming, singing, and dancing take place together in a circle. Traditionally djembe rhythms and their corresponding dances would have been associated with specific occasions, with each rhythm having a time and place. These days’ rhythms and dances may be performed at a wider range of events. There are hundreds of drums throughout West Africa but the djembe is one of few that are played with both bare hands. Sometimes, drum ensembles use a call-and-response style. West African slaves brought their drumming traditions to the Americas. Over time, West African drum music evolved into new styles, particularly in Cuba. West African drum music and Afro- Cuban drumming are now popular elements of world music. The players use polyrhythms and repetitive patterns in the drumming. The beats of the drum often help the dancers keep track of their timing.

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