Music AOS4 Set work 3

African Music

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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)
  • Syncopation
  • 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
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African instruments

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

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Yiri- Koko

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.

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Samuel Jenkins


life saver, exam tomorrow, didnt have a text book, thanks a lot :)

Connor Baiano


saame! ty

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