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African Music,Culture,Issues,Spirituality,Strengths,Problems, Spread To Other Countries


Luna Bliss
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I was blown away by one of the instruments in this song from the movie Blood Diamond by James Newton Howard, starting at the 2 minute mark, and was going to call you out @Pussycat Catnapto see if you knew the name as you have discussed things African & Caribbean before, but finally I identified it via other African songs using it -- the African Harp or Kora. I have to have one! Seriously -- looking on Ebay...
But what is the beat called, a kind of downbeat, does it have a name?

 

Edited by Luna Bliss
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I can hear this downbeat strongly in another song, Totally Illégal (Harmonik Eifkeyz Jude Severe DJ Mayass Remix)...is it Caribbean? I love it -- reminds me of a heartbeat.  I think I like the mix this user on Soundcloud created even better than the original:

 

Edited by Luna Bliss
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  • Luna Bliss changed the title to African Music,Culture,Issues,Spirituality,Strengths,Problems, Spread To Other Countries

I'm actually NOT the expert here. 🙂

I assume you're referring to the beat that picks up at around 2:28 on the first track - I've heard that a lot.

It's key to note that almost ALL modern music derives from 'African / Black Diaspora' rhythms - which is why they tend to sound so universally familiar.

(While many now claim Mozart was black (or was that Beethovan - there's some who claim these things seriously and some who claim it because they got images of different people mixed up), or at least mulatto like me... also like me he was not culturally African - so, IF this claim about him is true; you still CANNOT say Classical music is Afro-derived - so music like it forms an exception. New Age music however is easily seen as a blend of Celtic, Western-Hemisphere Indigenous, Oceania-Indigenous, and African sounds - pointing to how bringing cultures together always improves everything. 😉 ).

That said - I don't know directly African music all that well.

I'd be more useful if I were hearing a Riddim that came out of the Carribean, as the Jamaicans call it - which is the whole 'gestalt' in the music perhaps one or two levels more 'composed' than the Rhythm. But I'm not a music expert so that's just a layperson's attempt to explain the difference.

(Wikipedia just says riddim is the patois pronunciation of rhythm but it's more than that, or less than that - depending on the angle you approach it. A riddim is almost the full instrumental - but still at a level just far enough away from that to be an 'essence' of the song like a rhythm. It's kind of halfway in between... and that's the level at which I can "hear" something and say 'what it is' IF it also happens to be in a genre I know).

Edited by Pussycat Catnap
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5 minutes ago, Pussycat Catnap said:

I'd be more useful if I were hearing a Riddim that came out of the Carribean, as the Jamaicans call it

Can you post your favorite song in this genre?

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Just now, Luna Bliss said:

At first glace this seems very complicated...I will need to study it...

It's actually not. Riddim is more of a simplification term. If you listen to music with an 'untrained ear' and think you're hearing the common rhythm in songs - you're probably hearing the riddim between two extremely similar songs. If the songs are pretty different but someone tells you they have the same rhythm...

- there's your difference much of the time.

A lot of less musically adept people, like me for example... think we're hearing a rhythm when we are actually hearing a riddim (which by definition has the rhythm)... But we fail to hear the same rhythm between two songs that beyond that are different.

Two songs with the same riddim are going to be at least 80-90% musically identical... and we lay people look foolish when we reveal that we can't hear the 'rhythm' beyond this level... 🙂

 

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I have a Kalimba. (played with thumbs). Doesn't everyone?
I will use it for recording soon enough.

The Kora note bending sounds much like hammered dulcimer note bending.
It has the same amazing beauty of tone and then when the drone or bass note/s
are played.... wow... absolute bliss.

That alone is amazing because, traditionally the Kora would have "gut" strings, not steel I imagine.
Which makes its beautiful tone even MORE outrageous.  
Deffo sounds like steel strings or a thick plectrum is being used. Maybe its been modernised a little?.
Nevertheless ty to Luna for the Introduction & Pussycat for additional comments.

Edited by Maryanne Solo
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Well, my contribution to this discussion will be to point you to Nandi, an amazingly talented girl in England with Zulu and British roots, who may introduce you to the world of other drummers you may not have kept up with over the years, like that fellow named Dave Grohl or something, and this Lenny who apparently still gives concerts! But she has definitely outstripped them all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 9/10/2020 at 10:09 AM, Luna Bliss said:

I can hear this downbeat strongly in another song, Totally Illégal (Harmonik Eifkeyz Jude Severe DJ Mayass Remix)...is it Caribbean? I love it -- reminds me of a heartbeat.  I think I like the mix this user on Soundcloud created even better than the original:

 

Well, I don't know about ridm, but there is a more prosaic explanation for all this which is that it is merely 12/8 and 4/4 beats called Clave, common to Cuban, Caribbean etc music and imitated in some American pop and rock.

Here's the technical explanation:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clave_(rhythm)

But what I'm hearing in your samples here is just a straight up 4/4 with some downbeat variation. 

 

Edited by Prokofy Neva
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The thing with African music is it's a vast continent (it's the second largest) and home to thousands of cultures. A lot of North American music is going to have some West African influence due to the slave trade. Where I'm from in Montreal, there were a lot of immigrants from Senegal, Mali and even Haiti, due to language. A good example would be Zouk: There's Carribean Zouk, Brazilian Zouk and African Zouk. That's just a west african influence. Whereas, east african music sounds totally different. Places like Uganda and Tanzania, Bongo Flava is big. Mbosso is a big Bongo Flava artist:

 

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I don't listen to music for the music, but for the lyrics. If a song isn't political or spiritual or both it usually fails to capture my interest. Which is also nearly true about everything else in life as well: for me there is politics, spirituality, and non-existence. And so I'm less savvy in various styles and beats, and more in topical genres.

 

Edited by Pussycat Catnap
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On ‎9‎/‎10‎/‎2020 at 11:27 PM, Maryanne Solo said:

I have a Kalimba. (played with thumbs). Doesn't everyone?
I will use it for recording soon enough.

The Kora note bending sounds much like hammered dulcimer note bending.
It has the same amazing beauty of tone and then when the drone or bass note/s
are played.... wow... absolute bliss.

That alone is amazing because, traditionally the Kora would have "gut" strings, not steel I imagine.
Which makes its beautiful tone even MORE outrageous.  
Deffo sounds like steel strings or a thick plectrum is being used. Maybe its been modernised a little?.
Nevertheless ty to Luna for the Introduction & Pussycat for additional comments.

lol yes I have a Kalimba too...somewhere!  What kind of recording will you be doing?  In the past I liked to record tracks using various instruments.

I do like that note-bending you mention, and love hammered dulcimer. It reminds me of bending notes on the guitar via moving the string a bit in the middle of a note. That tone...yes the resonance or vibration is bliss to my ears too...a cross between a harp and a lute that lends a medieval sound at times (I read the Kora is also called the African Lute ).

It seems in the song I posted the Kora was electrified a bit, or as you say "modernized", or perhaps it's a different Kora (recently discovered there are various types of koras, each one sounding a bit different).

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On ‎9‎/‎11‎/‎2020 at 1:29 AM, Aethelwine said:

I remember being blown away by this song and the album it was from, I don't know but hope such beautiful music went some way to healing the rifts from the then recent history of the Rwandan genocide

What a horrific event that was...no doubt her music from Cécile Kayirebwa  provided some healing...she seemed to be prominent in the social justice movement in Rwanda at that time. The music from this area of Africa frequently sounds different from western Africa, for example in the following more recent piece or hers the language (Swahili or some Bantu language I'm imagining) sounds like some Native American languages:

 

 

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23 hours ago, Janet Voxel said:

 

love the beat...

learned a new word..."bombarder"   lol

Also, did not know French was prominent in so many countries in Africa.. 

Edited by Luna Bliss
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21 hours ago, Prokofy Neva said:

Well, my contribution to this discussion will be to point you to Nandi

Wow this little talented drummer is one to keep an eye on!

Thanks for the intro to rhythm...don't know why I didn't think of researching music theory...

I really do resist the meta levels in art, thinking on some level it will ruin my enjoyment and creation of it.  So I probably won't read it...lol.

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20 hours ago, Janet Voxel said:

The thing with African music is it's a vast continent (it's the second largest) and home to thousands of cultures. A lot of North American music is going to have some West African influence due to the slave trade. Where I'm from in Montreal, there were a lot of immigrants from Senegal, Mali and even Haiti, due to language. A good example would be Zouk: There's Carribean Zouk, Brazilian Zouk and African Zouk. That's just a west african influence. Whereas, east african music sounds totally different. Places like Uganda and Tanzania, Bongo Flava is big. Mbosso is a big Bongo Flava artist:

Well you know most 'Muricans, if you ask them about Africa they think it's a country     :(    At least I've known it's a continent for a long while, but I'm ashamed to say I don't know much about the various cultures within it..

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20 hours ago, Aethelwine said:

A Kora being played beautifully by Sona Jobarteh:

Great song thanks -- I had just discovered her yesterday not long before I saw your post!

Yayyy first woman...

"Born in London, Sona Jobarteh is a member of one of the five principal Kora-playing (Griot) families from West Africa, and the first female member of such a family to rise to prominence on this instrument. Before her, the playing of this 21-stringed harp-like instrument was exclusively passed down from father to son. The instrument is an important element of the Mandingo peoples in West Africa and their playing is reserved only to certain families called Griot. She is the granddaughter of the Master Griot of his generation, Amadu Bansang Jobarteh, who migrated from Mali to the Gambia. Her cousin is the well-known, celebrated Kora player Toumani Diabate. She has studied the Kora since the age of three, at first taught by her brother Tunde Jegede, and then by her father, Sanjally Jobarteh. She gave her first performance at London’s Jazz Café when she was four years old".

 

Sona_Jobarteh_4.jpg

I can really hear the harp qualities in this song of Sona's:

 

Edited by Luna Bliss
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9 hours ago, Pussycat Catnap said:

I don't listen to music for the music, but for the lyrics. If a song isn't political or spiritual or both it usually fails to capture my interest. Which is also nearly true about everything else in life as well: for me there is politics, spirituality, and non-existence. And so I'm less savvy in various styles and beats, and more in topical genres.

Nice songs...

I'm very much the same in that respect, but I feel when a song is spiritual or 'life-affirming' and so even if in a different language or purely instrumental it can capture my interest.

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Beautiful artwork in this rendition of Mailaka, a popular Swahili love song, sung by Harry Belafonte & Miriam Makeba:

___ Malaika is a Swahili song written by Tanzanian Adam Salim in 1945. This song is possibly the most famous of all Swahili love songs in Tanzania, Kenya and the entire East Africa, as well as being one of the most widely known of all Swahili songs in the world. Malaika in this context means "angel" in Swahili, and this word has always been used by the Swahili speakers to refer to a beautiful girl. The lyrics of the song differ slightly from version to version; the title itself is subject to variation, such as "Ewe Malaika" or "My Angel". precious South African voice of the “Mother Africa” Miriam Makeba, who popularized the song both in and out of Africa.

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