A Brief History of African Music Through the Colonial Period

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A Brief History of African Music through The Colonial Period

Music before the 20th century was very different when compared to the music of the 21st Century. There were distinctive occasions for each type of African music. West African music, the African Diaspora, and the music of the Colonies each had different musical instruments. West African music was the music of the African people before the Europeans captured and sold them into slavery in the Americas. It was unique in the manner in which it was played as well as the reasons why it was played. West African music was documented around the 1600's when explorers wrote journals about what they had found while traveling. Every West African village had its own professional musicians and singers who would perform for the community. Musicians were idolized in their villages. They normally sat with the king or chief because of their elevated status. West African's made music for ceremonies surrounding agriculture, the crowning a new king or chief, and the reenactment of an important event that happened in the past. Special kinds of music were played during war ceremonies, hunting excursions, and other victory celebrations. Hunting songs, war songs, and boating songs were performances of men. Music performed by women was associated with children, young girls, and funerals. An example of a festival the West Africans celebrated was called the "Annual Customs of Dahomey". This was a festival worshiping the king of their capital. The West Africans also had music for litigation. They would come before a judge and sing or chant their argument. Dance was also a big part in the music of West Africa. Dance was performed at ceremonies surrounding fertility, death, worship, adulthood, and other kind of certain concerns of the village. Mainly the West Africans used percussive instruments. These drums came in all sizes ranging from ten to twelve inches to ten to twelve feet. Their drums were made out of...
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