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West African Music; Music Under Slavery

by: Victoria Notetaker

West African Music; Music Under Slavery MUSC 3039

Marketplace > California State University - Bakersfield > Music History > MUSC 3039 > West African Music Music Under Slavery
Victoria Notetaker


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About this Document

These notes cover Broadside Ballads: West African Musical Practices and Music under Slavery.
America's Musical Life
Dr. Joel Haney
Class Notes
Music, history
25 ?




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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Victoria Notetaker on Monday October 3, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to MUSC 3039 at California State University - Bakersfield taught by Dr. Joel Haney in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views. For similar materials see America's Musical Life in Music History at California State University - Bakersfield.

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Date Created: 10/03/16
Music 3039: Study Questions 4 West African Music; Music under Slavery Questions 1) Sketch a brief chronology from the beginnings of slavery in what would become the U. S. through the Emancipation Proclamation. Slavery began in 1619 in Virginia, one year before the Pilgrims arrived Sub-Saharan Africa is where most of the slaves came from Slavery reigned in the lowland south: labored in crops: tobacco, cotton, rice—for a larger profit 1808- Congress passed a law that outlawed the importation of slaves 1863- Emancipation Proclamation became effective; issued by Abraham Lincoln Almost 2 1/2 centuries of African slavery of adults and their children 2) Describe several important features of traditional West African music, and provide examples. Are there any broad similarities with Navajo traditional music? Music Making in West Africa: ● Everyday Activity - aesthetic experience as flow is created; Flow in work Group Participation - all are welcome to join in - musically and physically (dance) ● Repetition of brief melodic and rhythmic ideas - musical chunks tend to be small and create larger span of music as it is repeated ● Improvisation - it is not planned; spontaneous ● Percussion - polyrhythm- enhances your attention and focus with attributes to flow ● Call and response ● Pitch Bending -Blues form QL: Social Connectedness — polyrhythm and group participation “social synchrony” Ghana—Ewe “Agbekor”—originated as a war dance but is now a traditional musical form that has a memorial function, performed at funerals. Solidifies the relationship between the ancestor spirits (spirit world) and human existence. Traditional West African cultures believe in a close relationship between humans and nature. 3) Name some typical instruments used under the conditions of slavery. Why were drums absent, and what were some drum-substitutes? Drums were absent because it related to “drum language”. They did not want the slaves communicating between each other. Slave owners had the slaves sing because they wanted to be able to keep track of them and sometimes distinguish their mood. Many of their songs contained coded meaning. Banjo, bones (drum substitute), patting juba (drum substitute) 4) What are some specific similarities between the music of African-American slaves and West African music making? Pitch bending, improvisation, syncopation, group participation Terms polyrhythm- ​the layering of multiple rhythmic patterns syncopation- ​rhythmic emphasis on a weak beat or between beats call and response- ​a soloist or leader who begins with a melodic phrase and a group will respond with the same or a different melodic phrase drum language- ​specific beats can be understood by others; the beats can be manipulated to mimic vocal tendencies of the language work song- ​“Ain’t I right” when one creates music in the workplace, everyday activity; works towards actually getting the task done Is not as common as it used to be due to the industrial revolution. Marxism calls this the division of labor; work now is much more individualized field holler- ​solo genre; allows freedom for the soloist; ancestor of the Blues Frederick Douglass- ​(ca. 1817-1895) enslaved in Maryland and escaped in 1838 (20yrs). Moved north and became an abolitionist. ​Narrative of the Life of F.D. (1845) Maghrib- n​ orth of the Saharan Desert sub-Saharan Africa- ​South of the saharan Desert social synchrony- ​all harmonious social interaction stems from the synchrony of movement and body language patting juba- ​ ody percussion (spongebob and patrick lol) ​ Sea Island Singers- ​(1960) made about 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation; they were to some extent isolated on an island so the influence of outside change is not as likely to be felt as dramatically as it is on the mainland. Therefore, the recordings of these singers are more likely to be closest to the original way it was sung.


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