South African Music

South African Music

Music is in the blood of Africans and South African music is the manifestation of this innate characteristic. However, the evolution of South African music has been at the expense of a mixture of local forms with the influences of various imported ideas. This was the result of the overpowering impact of the cultures of various nations whose traders have been coming to South Africa either for settling down or for passing through. A special connotation has been given to the local South African music as a result of this combination of outside influences but the basic traits have remained in tact.

South Africa has people from diverse cultures. Along with the various Europeans and Indians, there are many native African ethnic groups as well. Both popular (jive) and folk forms dominate South African music. Pop styles are influenced by Zulu isicathamiya singing and harmonic mbaqanga.

Brief History

From the earliest organized music training by Christian missions to the end of the nineteenth century when many foreign musicians came to Cape Town, the journey was long but sustained. However, in the present age Cape Town has assumed great importance as the center of South African music scenario. A large variety of high quality music is being churned out with a strong sense of cohesive community in which local talent is given a great boost by the promoters, artists and the venues.

In the U.S. the impact of African music was hardly felt even about a decade back although some occasional songs did make it to the American Pop charts. However, this is not the case now as apart from other African music, South African music is creating ripples in the American charts particularly Rebecca, the Soweto String Quartet and Letta Mbuly are highly appreciated.

South African music’s most distinguishing feature is the large choral arrangement and its rhythmic element. This is more complex and quite different to the rhythms and blues and rocks of the music of other countries.