African Origins and Acculturation in the New World
African Origins and Acculturation in the New World
African Origins and Acculturation
in the New World
Slaves and their community
• Slaves mainly came from the Western
Region of Africa
• Village-based culture – individuals work towards
a common good. Music is a communal activity
and all participate on some level.
• WORK SONG – music performed while
conducting a task
• FIELD HOLLERS – related to above, sung solo
and echoed by others or passed along; cries for
water or food and to explain events, religious
devotions, and for motivation.
Music for Activity
• Music is always linked to an activity
– Rites of passage
– Religious Celebration/Agricultural events
– Music in ceremonies is to invoke Deities –
appease spirits to ward off bad luck & illness.
Music for Dance
• West African music is used primarily for
dance and/or body movement.
• Master drummers are also master dancers
• Drum students take dance lessons
• Music is seamless and very repetitive
• It can be hypnotic – creating a trance-like
state for medicinal and healing purposes.
• Non-participants would be bored.
TYPES OF DRUMS
*Types of Drums
*DJembe – rope tuned skin-covered goblet
drum played with bare hands
*How to play djembe drum. 6 sounds
AFRICAN DRUM ENSEMBLES
• 4-6 players
• The rhythmic concept is very complex
• There is a steady basic pulse that the
other rhythmic elements play off
• Multilinear rhythm – composite effect of
different linear lines
CALL AND RESPONSE
• The fundamental form of African music
• Leader performs a portion of music and the group
performs a response
• Not unique to West African music; it is found in many
musical cultures around the world, even today.
• Beetlejuice dinner scene
• Zulu Battle chants
• Whoopin’ Blues
Call and Response/Work Songs
examples from book
• Kneebone (from book)
• Arwhoolie (from book)
• Hammer, Ring (from book)
COMING TO A NEW WORLD
• The extent to which African slaves were
able to keep their folkways depended on
their location and the ethnic background of
• African Americans living off the coast of
South Carolina and Georgia retained more
than those in constant contact with whites
and other cultures.
LATIN – CATHOLICS
(French and Spanish)
• More tolerant of African traditions. Slaves
were allowed to continue as long as their
duties were done.
• Slaves were taken to church. Music was
taught by a practice called LINING OUT –
a line at a time. Blacks and whites learned
• STROPHIC - music is the same for each
verse, ie. hymns
• Felt responsible for slaves body and soul.
• African traditions were thought of as
heathen and savage.
• Drums were forbidden so the slaves
improvised using anything they could find,
including stomping, and bearing their
thighs and chest
• When the sentiment turned against
slavery, the south wanted to keep it in
place. Blacks were cast out of churches.
So they formed their own!
• African musical practices flowered.
– Black spirituals
– Highly rhythmic, repetitive and chant-like
music that involved dance or movement. Call
and response and the gruffness of the
“dirtied” voice remained as in the origins.
• African took scales, melodies, harmonies,
rhythms, and sounds of European musical
practice and later altered them to fall in
line with their own musical traditions.
• From musical theater to rock and roll,
stylistic traits of African-American music
have shown an influence.
• Emphasizes notes that don’t align with the pulse;
accenting the weak beats (2and4) instead of the
stong beats (1and3)
• MOTOR RHTHYM –presentation of a steday
rhythmic pulseat a consistent tempo, provides
the base for syncopation and swing
• How music works https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZJPnAer7EM
• Stomp – brooms
• Spontaneous creation of a performer by reacting
to the musical environment situation of the
• Paraphrasing – taking an existing meoldy and
• Mid 1920s – on = creating new melodies based
on the chords in the background
• Mid 1950s – on = creating new melodies NOT
based on the chords. Not required to fit the
Marsalis on Music
• #1 http://youtu.be/O4RDCPW9ixc?list=PLi01QrDf5Cvv-HAmyF1MTyZ2wN_1r0mY
• #2 http://youtu.be/wRNH1JC7vv4?list=PLi01QrDf5Cvv-HAmyF1MTyZ2wN_1r0mY
• Improvisation existed in European music
such as Bach and Mozart.
• African-American music gave a high
priority to improv skills. The musician
became the performer and composer at
the same time.
• One improviation is performed, it’s gone,
done. It can never be re-created the same
so it’s fragile and elusive.
COLORING A SOUND
• As in the growl of the voice, instrument sounds
can be “dirtied” by making them have a rattle or
• MBIRA – handheld box with meatl tines, playd
with the thumbs and forefingers. It is usually a
clean, clear sound.
• Can be “dirtied” by adding bottlecaps to produce
a buzzing sound.
• In jazz and blues, a blue note is a note
sung or played at a slightly lower pitch
than that of a major scale for expressive
• Country blues, in particular, features wide
variations from the pitches with emotive
blue-notes. Blue notes are often found in
traditional African work songs.
• Blue notes (in blue): b3, (♯4)/b5, b7
• Like the blues in general, the blue notes
can mean many things. One quality that
they all have in common, however, is that
they are flatter than one would expect.
• African Blues http://youtu.be/aZTai3DxMXM
• Bending Guitar Notes
• Tone production
• Europeans expected pure, clear, and
• African-Americans expected individuality.
Nasal sounds, growls, and horseness
• Relaxed rhythmic feeling imposed over a
• Softer entrances, instead of Ta, use Da
• Felt in a subdivision of the beat of 3
instead of 2.
• Soon and Very Soon