British Council-World music

British Council-World music

British Council-World music


Transcript of the podcast

Good evening and thank you for coming. This evening I’m going to give a short introduction to music from the African continent. I would first like to point out that there is no such thing as African music. By this I mean that there is a great diversity of styles of music originating from Africa, but no one style that can be called African music. I’d like to illustrate this by introducing you to several types of music from different African countries

This first extract is an example of Highlife. Highlife first appeared in Sierra Leone and Ghana during the 1920s, but soon spread throughout West Africa. It’s actually a fusion of traditional West African rhythms and melodies with European and North American sounds. Highlife was extremely popular during the 1950s and 60s, but went into decline in the 1970s. The instruments used in Highlife include drums, guitars, harmonicas and accordions

Now I’d like to play a short extract of Soukous. Soukous originated in Zaire and Congo, and is traditionally played on the likembe, or thumb piano, guitar and bottle. It can be traced back to the beginning of the 20th century, and in the 1970s it became popular in France and the UK. One of its most successful international performers, Papa Wemba, is now based in Paris

The next example I’d like you to hear is Juju, which comes from Nigeria. Juju is based on a traditional form of Nigerian music, but instead of being played only on drums, guitars, keyboards and pedal steel guitars are also used. Juju started out in the 1950s, and is still popular today, thanks to internationally renowned performers such as King Sunny Adé


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