World Music Journal Essay

Submitted By gpark
Words: 4280
Pages: 18

Listening Journal Assignment

Sub-Saharan Africa and Diaspora


1.31 Polyrhythmic Ensemble

The music is made up with many interesting sounds. First thing I noticed was the clicking sound, which I learned later in class that it was from an instrument call Gankogui. Gankogui is a name of African bell that is played by hitting the bell with the stick. There are also many instruments playing in this music such as drum, rattles, clapping and singing. For the singing, first only one person sings then others join in like a call and response. This music is very energized, so I thought it was for a festival. However, in class I learned that originally it was for war preparation and now it is for a funeral.

1.32 Talking Drums

The music is only composed of a vocal and a drum. First a person speaks a phase then the drum repeats that phase with similar tones and rhythms. This is very interesting that a drum can speak. I thought this talking drum was to message people who are far away because drums are louder than a person’s voice. After the class, I learned that this music was usually used for oral history. Also I learned that this talking drum was possible because African language is a tone based. Therefore, by changing the pitch of the drum it indicates what consonants are being spoken.

1.33 Palm Wine “Highlife Song”

The Palm Wine “Highlife Song” sounds very soft and gentle, different from the other Ghana music. There is no drumming involved which is very different because the other Ghana music was drum based. In this music it is more guitar based, the guitar is played very lightly and softly. Also the singing is gentle. This is because it has more western influence of Jazz and swing and it is classified as a pop music. However, there still is a clicking sound that is similar to Gankogui in Polyrhythmic ensemble.

Democratic Republic of Congo

1.34 Pygmy Song

First time listening, I imaged people singing and clapping outside of their home when it is raining because of the big thunder at the end of the music. I thought this music was played during the terrible weather, people hoping for a sun. There are loud clapping sounds, so I imaged people hitting their body as a sign of forgiveness. However, I learned that Pygmy people who are very dependent on the forest played this music. These people believed that if they take something out of the forest, it creates an imbalance and human beings cannot repay this. Therefore singing every night in the forest is the only way to balance the forest again.


2.1 Mbira Dza Vadzimu

The music sounds very mysterious and strange. It sounds like there is a rain dropping. Also a xylophone like sound makes this music more mysterious. There also is a rattle shaking and a vocal. The rattle gives the music a steady beat. I believe that this music is for religious purpose. I can imagine a Shaman playing this kind of music in a mysterious setting with fogs and mist. This was a correct assumption that this music was usually played by Shaman to enter the spiritual world. The xylophone like sound was played by Mbira, which is a thumb piano with a bottle cap rattle.


2.2 Akadinda Xylophone

The only instrument used in this music is a xylophone. The xylophone is played extremely fast. I couldn’t picture how an individual can fast xylophone this fast. After the class, I realized that it wasn’t an individual playing the xylophone. There were more then one person playing and they were rhythmically interlocking. This was interesting to see because even though the whole music sounds like it’s being played really fast; however, the actual players are playing with their own tempo which is not as fast as the whole music.


2.3 Jali with Kora

This music sounds peaceful and bright. There is a string instrument played and a vocal. The string instrument is called kora. In the beginning of the music it