June 2015 theme: Traditional music

When a tradition gathers enough strength to go on for centuries, you don't just turn it off one day.” - Chinua Achebe

Malawi's Gulewamkulu. Photo: exploremalawi.blogspot.com
Malawi's Gulewamkulu. Photo: exploremalawi.blogspot.com

The strength of African music lies largely in its astounding diversity and the incredible skills of its musicians. Many of today’s most successful African pop stars owe their success to the work of the traditional musicians that came before them. In many African countries, much of the knowledge required to become a musician is not taught in school but rather passed down over many generations. The Griots of West Africa are perhaps the best example of this. Recognising the ongoing importance of traditional music in Africa and the influence it has on contemporary trends, we  have chosen Traditional Music as our theme for this month.

We have commissioned and published numerous overview texts that provide valuable insight into traditional music in various countries throughout the continent, including: Gambia, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Namibia, Malawi and Zimbabwe, with many more still to come. These provide a perfect entry point for anyone interested in learning more about traditional music in Africa - by looking at these countries’ various ethnic groups and geographical regions and the music that is associated with them, as well as the cultural contexts in which this music is usually performed. In doing so, these texts also touch on the dances that typically accompany them and the musical instruments with which they are performed, as well as how traditional music continues to inspire and influence contemporary African musicians.

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