The study of instruments’ classification.
A minority ethnic group in West Africa (Ghana and Togo) with a reputation as warriors, extended family-based social order, and spiritual view of music that attributes fortune and talents to ancestral spirits. Creators of the Agbekor music.
An Ewe form of war music, now adapted to non-war purposes, such as funerals. A style of drumming that was, according to legend, learned by Ewe hunters from monkeys; exciting, polyrhythmic, meant for prewar and postwar playing. Translates to “clear life;” makes use of language’s tonality to “speak” with drums, recounting stories of battle and preparing for the fight.
Musical call-and-response.
double bell
A central rhythmic instrument in Agbekor, with whose beat all other instruments in the ensemble interact. Includes two tones, form a larger and smaller bell.
Agbekor ensemble
Consists of a “rectangle within a circle,” traditionally composed of 10 male drummers, 15 male dancers, and 10 female singers, though the roles are now less gender-specific. Includes a double bell, gourd rattles, ad four single-headed drums. A typical full performance will include 3 slow songs, 1 free rhythm song, and 1 fast song.
A rhythmic feel common in African music that does not rely on a strict hierarchy of beats with a unified meter, but rather arises from the intertwining of multiple feels at once, generally based on simple individual rhythms, to create a dense sound.
An ethnic group in Senegal and Gambia, part of the larger Mande group of peoples, who have a tradition of jalolu/griots.
jali / griot
A class of poets, musicians, and oral historians in West Africa, translating to “blood” and “servant” respectively. Traditionally employed by nobility, but contemporarily play more freelance; sang the praises of kings and kept oral histories of heroic and political exploits, as well as reciting wise sayings. Transmission based on formal apprenticeship with a single master.
A harp-like stringed instrument of Guinea. Has 21 strings across a high bridge; plucked in left-right alternation; bass strings considered “high” and vice-versa; learned under a master, who teaches (difficult) tuning last. Historically male performers.
A xylophone-like instrument from Burkina Faso.
A lute-like instrument from Mali.
In kora music, tuneful singing, the “meat” of the vocals.
In kora music, the extemporaneous, less melodic vocal passages.
Ostinato played on the resonator of the kora.
Ostinato played on the strings of the kora.
Instrumental passages in kora music.
The people of Dagbon, a centralized, hierarchical West African kingdom.
A hereditary clan of drummers in Dagbon.
“Talking drum,” the instrument of choice of the lunsi – includes two pitches that can be modified by squeezing the leather cords on its side to mimic the tonal language.
Bass drum used in lunsi music.
Double “talking drums” in lunsi music to mimic tonal language.
A Muslim vocalist who gives the call to prayer atop the minaret.
The region of North Africa north of the Sahara and to the west of Egypt.
Indigenous people of North Africa.
A Berber ethnic minority in the Sahara.
Southern Spain, which was under Muslim rule for several hundred years, and whose music spread to North Africa following the Muslim emigrations.
The black population of the Maghrib, composed of the descendants of slaves/immigrants.
A classical Andalusian form of music – there are 24, each tied to an hour of the day as well as various body organs, temperaments, etc. Tied to court poetry.