Reprise and context:
Need $100 on the one-string
[anhemitonic pentatonic scale/mode/gamme with "variable intonation of the third and seventh of the scale" (Waterman 23)]

My Babe (Lonnie Pitchford, one-string electric guitar)

Mississippi Jailhouse Groan (Rube Lacy) [one chord]

Cool Drink of Water (Tommy Johnson) [metaphor]

High Water Blues (Charley Patton) [seen through his eyes: Taj Mahal comments]

Western/European traditions are good at separating/isolating --thus, melody/rhythm/harmony. But in many African (and African-tinged) musical examples,the distinctions just aren't so clear. Thus, "swing" is an entanglement of 'melody' and 'rhythm', more easily felt than analyzed.

Nil significat
si vibrare non valet

From Scorsese's Feel Like Going Home

Salif Keita says: in Africa, "we are born inside music, you start singing the day you are born" (hear it again)

Ali Farka Touré says: "There are no Black Americans. There are Blacks in America... The Blacks left with their culture. And they kept it. But the biography, the ethnicity, the legends, they did lose. Still, their music is African."

Can't take away the music... and in exploring Blues we've seen the musical elements repurposed, run through the pain of slavery and subjugation and bad times, so that a lot of the content of Blues texts is about the pain/experience of the individual, and a lot of the the experience of the hearer is empathy.


Louisiana prison/Senegal work song

Nyakrom Brass Band (Ghana) [just how would you march to this?]

Gangbe Brass Band 'Remember Fela' excerpt (Benin --see photo)

(more via Frozen Brass)

Talking: drums have multiple roles, and can serve to carry messages

Ndokpa talking drum demo

Kanyok drum

Rhythms: Rhythm is more than just the dividing of time into subunits ("the beat"). It's not just mechanical/metronomic. There's a feel that's exemplified in the dancing jaliya, and completely at the center of the kpanlogo dancers. We might label it "swing". Back to Waterman:

The outstanding feature of African music which sets it most apart from that of Europe is the rhythm, a focal value which is implemented in a great number of ways. As Herskovits has written, "for the African, the important thing about rhythm is to have it, regardless of how it is produced." African rhythms have been spoken of as "incredible and incomprehensible to us." is undoubtedly true that the appreciation of African rhythms requires the development of a musical sense that, in the individual conditioned only to the norms of European music, usually lies somewhat dormant.... African music, with few exceptions, is to be regarded as music for the dance, although the "dance" involved may be entirely a mental one. Since this metronomic sense is of such basic importance, it is obvious that the music is conceived and executed in terms of it; it is assumed without question or consideration to be part of the perceptual equipment of both musicians and listeners and is, in the most complete way, taken for granted. When the beat is actually sounded, it serves as a confirmation of this subjective beat. And because it amounts to an unverbalized point of view concerning all music, this traditional value which differentiates African from "pure" European systems of musical appreciation is a typical example of the variety of subliminal culture pattern most immune to the pressures of an acculturative situation. (pp 20-21)
attracting termites

Buganda Akadinda

Postal workers cancelling stamps at the University of Ghana Post Office

the essence of improvization: listening to each other

[insert jaliya dancing, kpanlogo, and straw mask dance film clips]

Matepe (interlocking rhythms)

Ndokpa xylophone

Broto horns [hoquetus]

"African-style polyrhythm" excerpt from a midi file

[wish I had my Amadinda Percussion in mp3 --Hungarians playing "African" music]


Kanyok Luwend



Mangani Mikeka

Kanyok Wa Luwend