Native Dance: An African Story

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Increasingly, however, African marriages are compromises between strict family arrangements and the independent choices of couples. Courtship and marriage traditions vary greatly. Among the Wodaabe, it is often the women who select their husbands and lovers. The Wodaabe also place great emphasis on physical beauty and personal charm. Among the Surma, however, men are said to be drawn to a woman who is a hard worker and has a cheerful nature, whereas women are attracted by masculine strength. Traditional African marriages comprise a series of ceremonies that range in length from a day to a week.

“The Importance of Music in the African Culture:More Than Just a song” | All For Music

Feasting, dancing, animal sacrifice and blessings ensure the community's participation in marriage rituals and bond the two families to each other and to their larger world. In Africa, as throughout the world, marriage is one of the most significant events in a woman's life. The elaborate adornment seen at weddings reflects the importance of the occasion. The following portraits reveal the extraordinary diversity of traditional bridal dress and jewelery designs across the continent.

Not all of the transitions in life are dramatic: some are seasonal, such are the ritual blessing of the earth before harvesting crops or going hunting. Nor are all of them communal: many are personal, such as the passage from health to illmess.

The History Of African Dance

Diviners are called upon to reveal the causes of illmess and suffering and to discern an individual's personal destiny. Priests serve as intermediaries to appeal to the spirits to cure both physical and psychological disorders. In almost every instance, as life changes, Africans appeal to spiritual forces for help and guidance.

In many African cultures, masquerades are used to dramatize and reinforce the spritiual and social values of the community. The performances serve to bring communities back into harmony with the spirit world and with each other, through shared activity and entertainment.

Since the beginning of recorded time, kings have been closely associated with gods - often not merely as intermediaries between mankind and the gods, but as sacred beings themselves who could bestow divine blessings on their subjects. As divine beings, rulers in many African cultures traditionally symbolize the welfare of the state and are responsible for the security and prosperity of their people.

A king's role in maintaining social order is considered so important that it is often believed that his realm temporarily falls into a state of anarchy when he dies. Throughout the ancient royal kingdoms of Africa, ceremonies are frequently held to reassure people of the well-being of the monarch and, thereby, the state. Death is the final passage in a long chain of transitions. In Africa funerals are considered a means of formally separating the dead from the living and of introducing an individual into the world of the spirit.

In most traditional African societies, the worlds of the living and the dead are perceived as equally real. They exist in a state of perpetual balance and rebalance; actions performed by the inhabitants of one world have a corresponding effect on the other, some beneficial and others detrimental. Humans are seen as a combination of physical and spiritual elements, which split into separate parts at the time of death, with the body returning to the earth and the spirit or soul passing on to assume its role in the afterlife.

That role obligates the dead to protect and guard their living descendants from harm and to oversee the conduct of their family and lineage members. In return, the living show hospitality and kindness to the dead by giving them food and drink and keeping alive the traditions that they have passed on. Thirty years ago American-born Carol Beckwith and Australian Angela Fisher met in Kenya and began a relationship with the African continent that would profoundly alter and shape their lives. Their journeys have taken them over , miles, through remote corners of 40 countries, and to more than African cultures.

During this time the two photographers would produce 14 universally acclaimed books. These multi-talented photographers have also been involved in the making of four films about traditional Africa including Way of the Wodaabe The Painter and the Fighter, and Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World. The Beckwith Fisher Archive contains approximately , photographic images, diaries, field journals, drawings, video recordings, and museum-scale exhibition materials.

This unique archive, created during a thirty-year period of dedicated work, encompasses distinct cultures from 37 African countries. Traditions and ceremonies are disappearing rapidly across Africa. While the debate on the suitability of staff notation for African musical idioms continues, tonic solfa remains the most widely used and understood notional medium for many Africans who are music enthusiasts.

Traditional music and dance in Africa are media that have remained immunized to the western notational debates.


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They are largely taught and transmitted from one person to the other orally. Modeling is one widely used method for teaching others. Dance troupes that visit different countries perform difficult, complex and multi rhythmic and melodic phrases and movement through oral practices that have been perfected over the centuries. Religious Beliefs. Indigenous religious practices in Africa have also been influenced by Christian and Islamic practice, among other world religions. Foreign religions in Africa have played an important part in shaping the current musical practices in Africa.

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These musical practices have helped to develop both our vocal traditions and musical instruments. Today, Africa can boast of a number of musical styles and instruments that modern Africans play due to this rich religious influence. Other religions, such as African indigenous beliefs, suffered a long history of suppression by colonists.

A number of indigenous songs and instruments have been kept away from western Christian church services until recently. Africans who decided to join Christianity were encouraged to disassociate themselves with the traditional musical practices, while others continued to practice African traditional beliefs in secret.

On the other hand, Shilaoh , in a discussion on the influence of Islamic and Arabic cultures on the musical traditions of African people, argues that the Africanization of Islam made it easier for African to adjust to the new religious imposition. The adjustment was not as radical as it is supposed to be because the African converts did not have to abandon their traditional music completely, even when they learned Islamic cantillation or become familiar with Arabic music.

The connection between African music and dance to African culture has helped to sustain a number of ancient musical practices. There is a large inventory of literature on African music in religious contexts. The Groves dictionary of music and musicians mentions the Turner seminal work, the Drums of Affliction , that focused on religious process among the Ndembu of Zambia, while Euba studied drumming for the Yoruba orisa orisa Transcendental being Eshu Esu. Ein Todesfall , Garfia wrote about dreams and spirit possession among the Shona , Nketia on funeral dirges among the Akan , and Rouget on trance in several societies The practice of the Griot, specialized court musicians in a number of African cultures, has helped to maintain some religious dances and music.

The Malinke, Fulani, Hausa are some of the African traditions where the Griots are omnipresent in the cultural life of the society. Influences from other cultures. African music and dance has survived as long as we can remember the existence of humankind. African performance is a tightly wrapped bundle of arts that is sometimes difficult to separate, even for analysis.

As Europeans began to study Africa, and in particular its music, their interpretations emphasized a music that was rather monotonous, static and inactive.

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Presenting themselves as ever-adventurous Europeans, they associated themselves with music of change and development. The Europeans misperceptions came from a lack of appreciation of African musical subtleties, including language of performance. African music has influenced a number of musical practices in the New World, Europe and other continents. Some of the major influences on African music can be attributed to the role played by trade, globalization and colonialism.

Some scholars argue that it is misleading to state that African music is more functional than other musical traditions. They believe that social context varies according to the cultural profile of the society.

A number of writers still present African music as fulfilling a functional role in African society. The notion is related to the freezing of the African experience in the past, which is often challenged. All countries in Africa, with the exception of possibly Ethiopia and Liberia, have undergone a period of foreign domination.

This has brought the trappings of foreign culture, affecting the economic, political and cultural infrastructures of African society. Popular music has been used as a vehicle to communicate the struggle against many forms of domination, including the struggle for equal rights and the struggles of workers and life in shantytowns surrounding big cities.

We need to acknowledge that popular music in Africa represents the interaction between foreign values and styles.


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Popular music is therefore a site for adaptation, assimilation, eclecticism, appropriation, and experimentation. Popular music stems from the 20th century global development that broke down the national boundaries and opened them to free market forces. We can now argue that popular music has become a global phenomenon propelled by 20th century technological developments.

A number of scholars, including Lalendle, Ballantine and Copland, tend to look at the socio-cultural contributions of popular music. African popular music market may be fraught with contradictions, but what remains uncontested is the energy and diversity of music creativity on the continent. Today, musical instruments and styles provide the basis of contemporary music.

The History Of African Dance

Pop styles have deliberately maintained an indigenous sound through the use of traditional instruments to appeal to western audiences whose need for roots reflects their own sense of communal loss. Africans have a profound influence on world music today.


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  • The History Of African Dance?
  • We can trace this influence to times before the popularization of Jazz as a true hybrid of African and Western musical idioms. Trade played a major role in exposing other nations to African music. Diaries of early explorers are full of accounts that at times exhibit their biases about a culture they viewed as primitive and inferior to their own.

    Africans contributed to the first popular form of amusement indigenous to the American scene was the minstrel show, a distinctly native combination of a sort folk vaudeville with topical songs of a Negroid character. One of the major African music idioms that have influence world music is captured in Jazz. Jazz is a kind of music fusing elements from such widely differing sources as European harmony, Euro-African melody, and African rhythm into a kind of improvisations style based on a fixed rhythmic foundation. Its beginnings can be traced to the Negro musicians in the French quarters of the city of New Orleans around I stopped adding to reviews for a while.

    Not much has changed except for the telling of people's stories. And we apprecite people Yelping or just sending us an experience you'd like to share. Thank you. Alan is very knowledgeable about African drumming and he has reached deeply into the whole Boston area spreading his passion through many communities. I recommend his classes and drum circles. This is a great class taught by remarkable drummer and gifted teacher, Alan Tauber!

    You will feel supported and uplifted at the same time as you learn to play the hand drums with others who learn and play along with you! A very, very special experience awaits all who take this class.

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