We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Music in West Africa

Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture

Ruth M. Stone

Publication Date - 05 August 2004

ISBN: 9780195145007

128 pages
Book with CD/DVD
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

In Stock


Music in West Africa is one of several case-study volumes that can be used along with Thinking Musically, the core book in the Global Music Series. Thinking Musically incorporates music from many diverse cultures and establishes the framework for exploring the practice of music around the world. It sets the stage for an array of case-study volumes, each of which focuses on a single area of the world. Each case study uses the contemporary musical situation as a point of departure, covering historical information and traditions as they relate to the present. Visit www.oup.com/us/globalmusic for a list of case studies in the Global Music Series. The website also includes instructional materials to accompany each study.
Music in West Africa presents fundamental style concepts of West African music using a focused case study of performance in Liberia, West Africa, among the Kpelle people. The book discusses the diversity, motifs, and structure of West African music within the larger patterns of the region's culture, highlighting those aspects of Kpelle music that are common to many other West African traditions. It also describes how music and dance in West Africa are tied to the fabric of everyday social and political life.
Kpelle musicians value musical performance where multiple performers each contribute aspects of sound that fit together in elaborate ways. Drawing upon her extensive fieldwork and research, author Ruth Stone--who was raised in the Bong County region of Liberia--centers on key stylistic elements that Kpelle performers articulate and emphasize: faceting or breaking music into smaller parts, layering tone colors, part-counterpart relationships in musical structures, and time and polyrhythm. She explores fascinating parallels to these analytic themes in the textiles and masks of related arts and in broader cultural practices such as greeting sequences.
Music in West Africa is enhanced by eyewitness accounts of local performances, interviews with key performers, and vivid illustrations. Packaged with a 70-minute CD containing examples of the music discussed in the book, it features guided listening and hands-on activities that encourage readers to engage actively and critically with the music.

Table of Contents

    CD Track List
    1. Traveling to West Africa
    West Africa in Perspective
    Music in the Arts and Life
    Style Areas
    Ideas about Performance
    Musical Instruments
    2. Performance Facets
    Vocal Facets in Epic Performance
    Instrumental Facets in Horn Ensemble
    Continity in Performance: Woni Ensemble
    Vocal and Instrumental Facets in Bush Clearing Songs
    Parallels in the Arts
    Faceting: Cutting the Edge
    Cloth Pattern
    Masks and Carved Figures
    Greeting Sequences
    Obscuring Facets
    3. Voices: Layered Tone Colors
    Timbre in African Music
    Instruments: The Sounds of a Triangular Frame-zither
    The Centrality of the Voice
    Instruments: Musical Bow
    Sound Texture in Epic
    Social Resonance
    Other Timbral Dimensions of Sound
    Symbolic Association of Tone Color
    Cloth Color
    4. Part-Counterpart: Call and Response
    Call and Response Variations
    Nonoverlapping Call and Response: Rice Planting Song; Children's Counting Song; Kpelle Rubber Camp Music; Entertainment Love Song
    Overlapping Call and Response: Musical Dramatic Folktale (Chante Fable); Epic Performance
    Dialogic Relationships
    Drummer-Supporting Drummer
    Gifts that Keep the Performance Going
    5. Time and Polyrhythm
    A Master Drummer's Life History
    Fitting the Pieces Together
    Rhythmic Patterns in the Epic
    Inner Time
    Kpelle Performance in Liberia
    The Island of Lamu, East Africa
    The Shona of Southern Africa
    The Spiritual World
    The Larger Process
    Life History
    Time in Local Life
    Balancing the Qualitative and Quantitative
    6. Surveying the Trip: Cutting the Edge
    Central Themes

Related Titles