African Music

Traditional African music is often very purpose-oriented with work songs, teaching songs and religious songs begin the main purpose for much of the vocal music. Thus, it is inseparably linked to the life and culture of African tradition. There are scenes of music and dance depicted in the form of rock paintings dating as far back as c. 6000 BCE. A history of migration means that different regional areas went on to exchange musical features, leading to a variety of different styles. 

The music, however, is commonly very rhythmic with a strong importance placed on the use of drums. These drums exhibit characterising features such as polyrhythm (two contrasting rhythms being combined simultaneously) and ostinato (a single pattern being repeated constantly). African vocal music often exhibits built up layers of harmony, usually in thirds, as well as a distinctive ‘call and response’ figures where there is a direct dialogue between two singers or groups of singers. Some commonly used traditional African instruments include the talking drum (an hourglass-shaped drum that can change pitch), the djembe (a goblet-shaped drum), the kora (a plucked string instrument that typically has 21 strings), the mbira (a small thumb piano), and the balafon (a xylophone-type instrument).

Notable artists:

Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabeté

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba

Babatunde Olatunji

If you want to commission your own music in this style, or would like more information or help, please contact us.