West African Music Key features
Passed on through oral tradition.
Based on rhythmic cycles with accents.
- Polyrhythmic + Polyphonic
- Cross-rhythms (rhythms together that don't fit- create tension)
- Often a capella
- Call + response
- Repetition- Ostinati
- Heterophonic= All parts play different versions of the same tune at the same time, often at different pitches
- Improvised melodies
Djembe: Single headed drum, Played with hands, Size affects pitch
Dundun: Cylindrical drum played with sticks, 2 heads- one at each side
Donno/Talking drum: Played with thin curved stick, Squeeze strings on side to change pitch, Used to send messages, Imitates speech
Kagan: Small barrel-shaped drum
Balafon: Wooden xylophone, Mellow sound, Dried gourds hang underneath
Kora: 21 strings, Plucked, West African
Mbira: Thumb piano, Small, 'Twangy' sound
Master drummers lead the groups in call + response
Yiri means wood. Koko are from Burkina Faso. There are 6 members. Songs are themed.
Intro: Balafon solo- plays using tremolo (monophonic), Free tempo
Main Section: 2nd balafon joins, Both play improvised polyrhythms, Sometimes play in heterophony + either complement the vocal line or boost the drums, Ostinato rhythm on drums. Singers start in unison then change to call + response.
Coda: A short phrase for balafon is played five times in slightly varied versions. Rests in drums indicates the end of the piece is near. Bell has last note.
During the choruses the singers are in unison. Talking drum has ostinato throughout.
The timbre + texture build during the piece. Mainly in 4/4.
Mainly Heterophonic. In Gb major. Hexatonic harmony- only 6 notes (no F).
Frequent syncopation. Cross rhythms. Triplets in solo vocal part.
Little dynamic variation.