Posts Tagged ‘gourds’
The purpose of African Wind Instruments is quite different from the musical instruments of the United States and Europe.
In Africa, musicians do not seek to produce a lyrical and melodious sound that is always pleasing to the ear. There is a message in the music of Africa that is conveyed through the centuries from this second largest continent in the world.
The most commonly used instrument in World Music is percussion. Whether it is a drum, rattle, bells, clapper or rattle, percussion speaks a language that bridges the many cultures and the 50 countries which comprise the African continent.
Wind instruments are not as prominent as drums in the music of this culture. Their construction incorporates all natural materials made available by nature and produce a more subtle sound. For example, some wind instruments are made from conch shells, animal tusks and horns or wood and gourds.
Pre-made musical instruments can be very expensive to buy in Africa so from an early age children are taught how to make their own. In addition to the elements found in nature, children construct wind instruments from household items like pipes or even corn stalks.
As the sound of air passing over the material changes with the material itself, wind instruments in Africa have a very unique tonal quality. Whether it is an ocarina, oboe, panpipe or whistle, these instruments add to the complex nature of the music. Virtually anything can be used to create a wind instrument, even a can of soda pop.
Because traditional African music is not passed down in writing in the way music composition is passed to the next generation in the west, the instruments create patterns to the sound which are altered by the tone of the language. It is the pattern of the music and African Wind Instruments that gets carried forth through the generations.
Traditional African music is as old as the human race, 150,000 years old. As such, it is not a kind of music with a written history. The intonations and melodies are difficult to note with the western staff.
One of the true legends in American folk music, Pete Seeger, supports Samite’s African Music and wants you to do so also. Here is Mr. Seeger talking about “My Music World” and the revolutionary aspect of the way Samite brings his music direct to you.
The closest western patterns that mimic African music are pentatonic, teratonic, hexatonic and heptatonic arrangements. Drums are the most popular musical instruments in Africa and these drums include almost anything such as hand clappers, sticks, bells, pots and friction sticks. Musicians in Africa also use wind instruments and like the percussion devices these instruments are made of gourds, wood, conch shells, horns and tusks.
The purpose of African music can be recreational, but it can also be ceremonial and ritualistic too. Closely intertwined with music is dance which amplifies the tonal quality of the sounds. Like the Asian languages, African dialects often hold different meaning when a particular word is “sung” with different tones. Dance is integral to the music as a way of enhancing its meaning.
Like music in the west, sub-Saharan African music is used for religion, battle, lullabies and work. Both cultures share instruments like wind instruments, strings and percussion.
The purpose of African music is to express the full extent of life through the sound. It’s an integral part of African culture and society. Children are taught the value of music and musical instruments at a very early age. By the age of three or four, African children are taught how to make their own instruments.
In this way art and Africa are intimately enmeshed, so much so, that some dialects lack a specific word for “music”. Music is so integral; there needn’t be a word for it, showing just how important African music is to its people.
You will help Samite immensely by ordering his new CD, “My Music World” and we thank Pete Seeger for his support.