Essay Sample on African Music

Published: 2022-11-04
Essay Sample on African Music
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Music
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 918 words
8 min read

Music is a powerful tool for communication that speaks to the heart of people uniquely. Art does not require permission from the audience to get attention. Narrations on the good, the bad and the ugly have been expressed in music. In Africa, music has been used as a heritage tool of history and societal concerns. This paper will discuss how Seckou Keita and Zieti have used music to express societal concerns such as war and conflict, political instability, and creating AIDS awareness. Keita's album "Silimbo Passage" is a reflection of the traditional musical art that still blends with the present. Keita is a Senegalese musician who plays the kora, a traditional musical instrument and drum (Wood 33). The musicality Keita can come up with is exceptional, with the kora and violin being the lead instruments the kora stands out with a blend of nice musical notes. One can easily notice that the musical instrument is stringed, something close to a guitar but still realize that a guitar cannot combine notes that flawlessly (Wood 33). Even without understanding, the Mandinka language the songs are composed in, the combination of the kora, violin and exceptional vocals creates a spark in the music.

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He has used his art to express some of Africa's deep societal concerns to the musical-world. Leaders who only advocate for their selfish gains characterize African politics with the exploitation of loyalty. AIDS has been a thorn in the flesh in many areas of Africa and Keita urges his people to work together in eradicating the disease since their political leaders do not live with them. In his song, "Rewmi," in the last verse he says, "we are looking the wrong place, on the wrong side of the stick. Brothers, sisters, friends, everyone, let's fight this disease ...our country needs us..." (Wood 43) Keita uses an urging tone to speak to Senegalese people and Africans, in general, to consider themselves as the only ones who can save themselves from HIV and AIDS and political instability due to antagonism among neighbors.

The unique blend of music that Keita uses is interesting in the passing of his message, and it depicts African music as highly lyrical and instrumental (Wood 44) His unique blend of the Kora is exceptional since it creates new melodious sounds that are soothing to the ears. The beats lay a perfect platform the passing of his message. Keita has a unique touch when playing the kora. He learned to play the instrument through observing his uncle from the tender age of seven. The instrument has helped in the creation of unique music appreciated in Africa and beyond.

Zieti is an iconic musical group from Ivory Coast. The band is a mix of African and American members. The band consists of two Ivory Coast citizens, Yeoue Narcisse, and Tiende Laurent. Two Americans Alex Owre and Michael Shereikis, created narrative-like twists and accorded their music a folk like African tradition that rekindles the African pop music vibe the 1970's. The unpredictable nature of their music creates a spark in their performances. Most of their songs are Guerre The band has been able to utilize their musical vibe to address some of the modern day themes in Ivory Coast and Africa in general. These issues include the discord in Ivory Coast due to political reasons, corruption and the risk of AIDS in the Ivory Coast. They also use their music to create awareness of the power of the African tradition in combating vices in the society (Doumbia 43).

The song "Zemelewa" has a taste of Ivorian music but the nature of the guitar arrangements sounds much like the Congolese Rhumba genre of music. The band has experienced challenges in their musical journey due to the breaking out of civil wars in the Ivory Coast. The recording of "Zemelewa" was recorded a time Ivory Coast was undergoing a military coup, and a rigged the election. The song was recorded in two continents, at some point, the cassette was lost, and the recording process had to start afresh. At some point, the American members would be forced to flee from Ivory Coast due to the political tension (Agawu, 50). Although the song did not hit the airwaves in Ivory Coast, it was appreciated a lot by the people outside the country. It is currently a song used to warn the community against the dangers of civil war, corruption and the risks of AIDS.

In conclusion, music has proved to be a powerful tool in Africa in creating awareness of the social concerns that happen each day. The unique nature of blending traditional rhythms and modern ones is a clear illustration of the beautiful traditional art has. The musicians from Africa may not be the most celebrated, but they are social and political activists through music. This is an indicator that music can be used to empower people. African music should be taken more seriously, and the artists empowered to produce more songs and educate the society through music. Other continents should also borrow a leaf from Africa and not only use music to entertain people but also inform and educate them to be better in their activities.

Works Cited

Agawu, Kofi. "The challenge of African art music." Circuit: musiques contemporaines 21.2 (2011): 49-64.

Doumbia, Kadidia. "Poetry Expressed: Dance Diversity in the African Subcontinent-Perceptions, Misperceptions, and Preservation (With a Focus on the Ivory Coast and Mali)." Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance 84.7 (2013): 41-46.

Wood, Callie. Creating both text and music for oratorios: a portfolio of compositions and exegesis. Diss. 2013.

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