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African music

The rhythms of west Africa were transmitted through the Atlantic slave trade to modern blues, jazz, reggae, rap, and rock and roll. Some of these contemporary genres are commonly called black music, others have been appropriated and have come to be called, although less commonly, white music. [Mar 2006]

Parent category: Africa - music

Related: Afrobeat - black music - Black science fiction - Yoruba

African musicians: Cheikha Remitti - Fela Kuti - Tony Allen - Olatunji - Manu Dibango

African American musicians: Pharoah Sanders - Sun Ra - George Clinton

Jamaican musicians: Lee Perry - King Tubby



The music of Africa is one of its most dynamic art forms. Egypt has long been a cultural focus of the Arab world, while remembrance of the rhythms of sub-Saharan Africa, in particular west Africa, was transmitted through the Atlantic slave trade to modern blues, jazz, reggae, rap, and rock and roll. Modern music of the continent includes the highly complex choral singing of southern Africa and the dance rhythms of soukous, dominated by the music of the Democratic Republic of Congo. A recent development of the 21st century is the emergence of African hip hop. In particular, a form from Senegal is blended with traditional mbalax. Recently in South Africa, a form of music related to house music known under the name Kwaito has developed, although the country has been home to its own form of South African jazz for some time, while Afrikaans music is completely distinct and composed mostly of traditional Boere musiek, and forms of folk and rock music. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africa#Culture [Mar 2006]

Burundi beat


Cover of the 1981 one twelve inch on the Barclay label

The appropriation of the so-called ''Burundi beat'' by Bow Wow Wow, Adam and the Ants, and several other British bands poses yet another moral conundrum. The original source of this ''tribal'' rhythm is a recording of 25 drummers, made in a village in the east African nation of Burundi by a team of French anthropologists. The recording was included in an album, ''Musique du Burundi,'' issued by the French Ocora label in 1968. It is impressively kinetic, but the rhythm patterns are not as complex as most African drumming; they are a relatively easy mark for pop pirates in search of plunder. During the early 70's, a British pop musician named Mike Steiphenson grafted an arrangement for guitars and keyboards onto the original recording from Burundi, and the result was ''Burundi Black,'' an album that sold more than 125,000 copies and made the British best-seller charts.

Ten years later, Britain's foppish, acutely fashion-conscious ''new romantics'' and their tribalist cohorts rediscovered ''Burundi Black.'' They found it rhythmically compelling, but Mike Steiphenson's pop arrangement was out of date. So Rusty Egan, drummer with the new romantic band Visage, and a French record producer named Jean-Philippe Iliesco recorded a new pop arrangement over the hapless Burundian drummers. Their revised ''Burundi Black'' was released in Britain this year and rapidly became a dance-floor hit. Now a New York label, Cachalot records (55 Mercer Street, New York, N.Y. 10013), has issued the Egan-Iliesco ''Burundi Black'' in this country.

This latest ''Burundi Black'' is glitzy pop-schlock, a throwaway with a beat. But its perpetrators are making money with it, and so is Mike Steiphenson, who has held onto the ''Burundi Black'' copyright. Adam and the Ants, Bow Wow Wow, and several other bands have notched up an impressive string of British hits using the ''Burundi beat'' as a rhythmic foundation. But the Burundian drummers who made the original recording are not sharing in the profits. Nobody told them to copyright their traditional music, and trying to obtain copyright for a rhythm would be a difficult proposition in any case. -- Robert Palmer, 1981 via Nytimes [Sept 2006]

Africafunk vol.1 and 2 (1999-2000) - Various

  1. Africafunk Vol. 1 (1999) [Amazon.com]
    1. African Rhythms - Oneness of Juju 2. Ajo - Peter King 3. Hail the King - Wali 4. African Battle - Manu Dibango 5. Malik 6. African Hustle 7. Expensive Shit 8. Talkin' Talkin' 9. Megaton - Vecchio 10. Weya - Manu Dibango 11. Netsanet - Mulatu Astatqé 12. Racubah 13. Road Close [Dance Dub] - Tony Allen
  2. Africafunk Vol. 2 (2000) [Amazon.com]
    1. Handsome Boy [Pt 1&2] 2. Ku Ka Maria 3. I Feel Funky 4. Time Will Tell - Ice 5. Anikana-O - Kongas 6. Nxambei - Vecchio 7. Nefertiti 8. Roforofo Fight - Fela Kuti 9. N.E.P.A. (Never Expect Power Always) - Tony Allen 10. Big Blow - Manu Dibango 11. Uprising [Pt 1&2] 12. Too Poo/Liberation Dues - Oneness of Juju

Russ Dewbury compiled the Africa Funk for Harmless records

Ethiopiques, Vol. 4: Ethio Jazz & Musique Instrumentale, 1969-1974 (1972-1974) - Various artists

Ethiopiques, Vol. 4: Ethio Jazz & Musique Instrumentale, 1969-1974 (1972-1974) - Various artists [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Largely the work of formidable musician-arranger Mulatu Astatqe, the 14 instrumentals here were originally issued on two LPs in 1972 and 1974 in Ethiopia, and represent a curious blend of soul-jazz and R&B with just a smattering of Ethiopian roots breaking up the stabbing horn lines, wah-wah guitars, and simmering electric piano. Curious, because at the time jazz was not very popular in Ethiopia, but that is no reflection on the quality of these primitively recorded sides of idiosyncratic Afro-funk. The grooves are long and laconic, the sound reminiscent of Miles Davis's "In a Silent Way" paired with Cannonball Adderly and Roy Ayers. But, as with all things Ethiopian, the music retains its own unique and unmistakable identity, one somewhere between a late-night jazz hole-in-the-wall group and a supper club belly-dancing combo. There are some very inventive arrangements and vigorous soloing, rendering a highly articulate and listenable music that was, at the time, doomed to go nowhere. Such is the retrospective value of reissues. --Derek Rath

Mulatu Astatke (var. Astatqé) is an Ethiopian musician and arranger. He is known as the "Father of Ethio-Jazz." Born in 1943 in the western Ethiopian city of Jimma, Astatke was musically trained in London, New York City, and Boston, where he was the first African student at Berklee College of Music. He would later combine his jazz and Latin music influences with traditional Ethiopian music.

In 2005, his music appeared on the soundtrack to the Jim Jarmusch film Broken Flowers. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulatu_Astatke [May 2006]

See also: African music - rare grooves - jazz

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