Traditional African Music

Traditional African music occupies an important position in traditional African culture as it is indispensable in any ceremonial function, ritual or social event. It is seen as a link between the tangible world and the invisible world. The melodies of traditional African music mostly fall within the scales of four, five, six or seven tones. The music instruments in Africa are generally made in the shapes of sculptural forms which are considered to be elaborate, sacred, simple, serious, and humorous or maybe a combination of two or more features. These instruments are also carved, beaded, decorated with skins or simply painted.

Various Types Of Traditional Music instruments

Among the traditional African music instruments, percussion instruments are extremely popular. The various types of these instruments are friction sticks, rattles, clappers, bells and cymbals. Sansas and xylophones are also widely used. Sub-Saharan African instruments are mostly made from resonant solids such as the mbira and stamping tubes. Africans are also very much enamored by drums and the various parchment-head drums that they use are cylindrical drums, kettledrums, goblet drums, semi cylindrical drums, hourglass drums that have variable-tension heads and barrel-shaped drums.

Wind instruments are also important components of traditional African music. These instruments are mostly made from tusks, horns, conch shells or wood. The most common wind instruments are the Flute, Oboe, Panpipes, Whistle, Horns Ocarinas, Trumpets, Single-reed pipes and Double-reed pipes. Stringed musical instruments are also used in traditional African music and the most common stringed instruments are Lyres, Musical bows, arched harps, Harp lutes, Plucked lutes, and Zithers.

There is no written tradition for traditional African music and as such it’s not easy to use the Western staff to notate the music and translate the pitches and distinguish the subtle differences. Traditional African music’s rhythmic aspects are very useful in uniting the different types of music of various areas and groups. The patterns of rhythm are similar in the whole of Africa. Singers create harmony for singing by using the thirds, fourths and fifths which are parallel to the original melody.

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