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BBC - African culture terms
Category: History and Culture > African music
Date & country: 25/09/2007, UK
From Bahia, traditional Afro-Brazilian rhythm and dance movement. Also refers to the musical groups that play it, whose members generally practice candomble.
South Africa's unique blend of American jazz instrumentation and arrangement concepts with indigenous sources such as marabi. Many African groups such as Guinea's Bembeya Jazz and Zaire's T.P.O.K. Jazz incorporated 'jazz' in band names but did not have the same direct connection to American jazz as in South Africa.
Term coined by Nigerian iconoclast Fela Anikulapo-Kuti for his fusion of West African and black American music.
Contemporary African music in its wide variety. Usually refers to urban, electric dance music. Sometimes mistakenly used to signify one style or sound. Also refers to AFROPOP series launched in 1988 on National Public Radio in the U.S, the first national showcase in U.S. media devoted to contemporary African music.
Sierra Leone street music incorporated by Abdul T-Jay.
Modern Egyptian dance music, originally created by Egyptians and Libyan expatriates in Cairo. Fusion of Nubian, Bedouin and Egyptian rhythms.
Cameroonian street music popularized by Salle John and others.
From Andalusia, the region of southern Spain ruled by the Moors until late inthe 15th century, and renowned for its highly developed classical music tradition. Today, Andalous music survives mostly in Morocco.
Yoruba vocal and percussion music from Nigeria popularized by the late Haruna Ishola.
popular music sung in Yoruba language in Nigeria during the 1920s and 1930s. Important influence on development of juju.
French for 'authenticity'. Era-shaping policy decreed by Mobutu in early 70s Zaire to discourage European and colonial-era identity and to encourage indigenous sources in names, dress, and culture. Franco played key role in spreading the word about authenticite to the masses.
Yoruba word roughly translatable as 'life force,' now applied as a label for an Afro-Bahian pop style.
A Dominican dance and guitar-based song style with rhythm similar to the Cuban son; made internationally popular by Juan Lúis Guerra.
West African xylophone made of wood slats and calabash resonators. Variations appear throughout Africa such as the marimba in Mozambique.
Family of three double-headed Nigerian drums played across the lap. Used in the Yoruba religious music of Cuba.
A drumming session in samba, or in a samba parade.
Northern African hand drum constructed from a circular wooden frame, 40-50 cm across,with a taut skin stretched over it. Used in many forms of traditional and modern music from this region.
Musical style from western Kenya originally from the Luo people but now more widely used in the country
Bow-shaped instrument with one steel string and a gourd resonator, brought from Angolato Brazil.
Dance rhythm from Martinique.
Popular Cameroonian folk-based rhythm from the Yaounde area.
Contemporary Afro-Bahian carnival associations and drum corps. Best known is Olodum.
Slow ballad, popular in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico.
Afro-Puerto Rican musical form from coastal towns, featuring call and response between lead singer and chorus, accompanied by maracas, sticks, and barrel-shaped drums.
Popular Congolese dance first introduced by Les Bantous de la Capitale of Brazzaville in 1965.
Black PuertoRican crossover sound of the mid-60's New York. Biggest hit was Joe Cuba's 'Bang Bang.'
French-Antillean dance music based, in part, on the compas-direct from Haiti.
Trinidadian song often sung with topical lyrics. Calysonians compete at annual carnival.
Afro-Latin music from the River Plate, once present in both Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay. Re-energized in the 70's by Uruguayan pop and rock musicians.
Afro-Brazilian syncretic religion. Venerates the Yoruba pantheon and incorporates Bantu elements.
Combination martial art/ dance in Brazil accompanied by berimbau, percussion, and chant.
Zairian dance rhythm popular in the 1970's.
Ukelele-like Portuguese instrument popular throughout the lusophone world.
cha cha chá
Cuban style, very popular internationally in 50s and still popular in Cuba today. The first cha cha chá was by Enrique Jorrín called 'La Engañadora'.
Cuban orchestra with violins, flutes, timbales, piano, and unison singing. Charangasled by Johnny Pacheco and others were very popular in Africa.
Young man young woman. Algerian and Moroccan rai singers began using these titles in the '70s as a proud assertion of their own youth, and of their music's commitment to the concerns of youth.
Cheikh - Cheikha
Titles conferring honor upon male and female popular singers in pre-independence Algeria. Singing classical poetry and love songs, cheikhs and cheikhas preceded the bolder chebs and chabas of rai music.
The fast, final section of a Tanzanian dance band tune; analogous to the seben in Zairean music.
In Shona, means 'struggle.' Describes the mbira-based popular music of social protest pioneered during the 1970s by Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited, and taken up by others Zimbabwen pop musicians.
Traditional Martinique style featuring wooden flute, percussion (Ti Boi), and lead base drum.
Indian classical singing to a soca beat, popular in rural Trinidad.
Pair of polished, hardwood sticks struck together to produce a high-pitched sound;also refers to the two-bar rhythmic pattern underlying Afro-Cuban music. Incorporated in early Congolese music.
Originally compas-direct.Haitian dance music developed by Nemours Jean-Baptiste in the 50's.
Single-headed barrel-shaped drum of West African descent. Played in many Latin bands.
Widely used term in Africa for dance music from Zaire and Congo. Also called 'rumba' or sometimes 'soukous.'
Cuban orchestra with vocals, trumpets, piano, bass, percussion.
Small ten-stringed guitar used in the country music of Puerto Rico.
The most typical Columbian form, fusion of Andean Indian, African and European musical styles. Also very popular in Mexico.
Cuban salon dance, originally played by wind bands and subsequently by charangas. Characterized by the cinquillo rhythm of quarter-eighth-quarter-eighth-quarter. The danzón was modernized in the late 30's by Arcano y sus Maravillas,who added a section at the end for harder dancing, called the 'mambo'section, which developed into the mambo of the 50's.
Athletic dance rhythm from Wassoulou region of Mali.
Generic term used for a music style popular in South African townships from early 80s to the present characterized by keyboards and heavy dancebeat. Also sometimes called 'bubblegum'.
Jamaican artist who talks over dub tracks. Influenced U.S. rap music. Early DJ's were U Roy and Big Youth.
West African hand drum often with metal sheets attached for amplification.
Stripped-down mix of reggae tracks with echo effects.
Lyrically improvised calypso, a tradition that connects Trinidad to Africa.
Egyptian film orchestra consisting of traditional North African instruments and, from the 20's on, violins and other western instruments.
Yoruba voice and percussion style popularized by Sikiru Ayinde Barrister and Alhaji Ayinla Kollington. Currently very popular in Nigeria.
Cape Verdean dance, typically with accordion and metal scraper.
Common North African lute of sub-Saharan origin. Characteristics include a round, fretless neck, two or three strings, and a sound box with a drum-like hide face. Also called 'sintir.'
spiritual brotherhood in Morocco of people descended from slaves brought from Mali in 16th Century. Gnawa music--featuring three string sintir or gimbri, unison singing, and hand clapping--is played at healing ceremonies. .'
goje or goge
West African stringed instrument similar to violin.
Highlife music with Christian themes played in the churches of Ghana. Now one of the biggest selling musics in the country.
griot - griotte
French words for male and female traditional bards and praise singers of West Africa. In Mandinka, a key language of the best known griot culture, they would be called jeli or jali, and jelimoussou, or jalimuso.
South African male singer who takes deep bass part in mbaqanga songs. Most famous groaner is Mahlathini.
Metal scraper used in merengue.
Percussion and street rhythm from the Antilles that has influenced zouk.
Dance music from Ghana and eastern Nigeria. Very popular in West Africa in the 40s, 50s and 60s.
Traditional Zulu dance where the dancer lifts one foot over his head and brings it down hard, landing squarely on the music's downbeat. Typically,two dancers in warrior's pelts perform indlamu routines together, shadowing each other's moves perfectly.
South African a cappela singing style popularized internationally by Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Ethiopian dance involving shaking shoulders and heaving chests. Very popular in Addis Ababa beerhalls.
Court or wandering bard in Manding society responsible for keeping oral histories and family lineages. Plays instruments such as kora and balafon.
Female griot singer in west Africa.
Vocal and percussion music from Zimbabwe rural villages. The term was adapted by the Bhundu Boys during the 1980s,and has subsequently become associated with driving, electric pop music.
South African urban electric pop music.
popular Yoruba style from Nigeria, featuring talking drums, guitars, keyboards, and sometimes pedal steel. First juju star was I.K. Dairo. Top-selling juju star and international popularizer is King Sunny Ade.
Traditional four-stringed instrument from Madagascar played by Dama, Rossy and others. Plays lively, strummed rhythms.
Zambian pop music style. Originally named after a traditional one-string bass, kalindula has become a general term for much of this southern African country's homegrown pop.
Literally 'young person's harp.' A smaller version of the dosongoni, or 'hunter's harp,' this six-string harp-lute gives the Wassoulou music of southern Mali distinctive, funky,low lines that define its rhythm and harmony.
Dance rhythm popularized by the late Doctor Nico in Zaire in mid-60s.
21-string harp-lute played in Mali, the Gambia, Guinea, and Senegal. Central to Manding culture.
Popular percussion rhythm developed in Ghana in 60s.
Ancient Ethiopian lyre with five or six gut or nylon strings. A krar has a bowl-shaped,goatskin-covered resonator as well as a large wooden yoke heldin place by two wooden arms. Sometimes called Harp of Apollo.
Dance popular in Zaire in late 80s. Later, in other parts of Africa, became a synonym for Zairean music following the success of Kanda Bongo Man's African tours.
Pennywhistle street music from South Africa in the 50s.
Lamellophone, or 'thumb piano,' from Congo.
Trade language along Congo River between present day Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo. The language heard in modern soukous music.
Afro-Brazilian religion; term is used both for a specific religion and generically for Afro-Brazilian religions.
Zairian dance craze in late 80s that succeeded kwassa kwassa.
The western-most part of the Arabic-speaking world, the Maghreb stretches from Egypt west across northern Africa to the Atlantic Ocean, Morocco being its furthest extremity.
rhythm popularized by Cameroonian star Sam Fan Thomas whose hits were key to launching international makossa boom in mid-'80s.
Cameroonian dance rhythm from Douala area.
Fusion of makossa and zouk made primarily by Cameroonian composers in Paris
Semi-classical poetry and music tradition dating back to the Moorish settlement of Andalusia in southern Spain.
Master of a brotherhood of musicians, specifically the famed group from the Moroccan village of Jajouka in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.
Afro-Cuban musical form that became popular in the U.S. during the 50's. Mambo also refers to an instrumental section of a salsa or merengue tune.
Umbrella term for a related family of West African ethnic groups--including Mandinka, Bambara, Joula, Sousou, Malinke and others--and their associated cultures.
Any of approximately 120 scales used in Arab classical music and its popular descendants. Modern Arab music mostly uses about 20 maqams, sometimes moving through several in a single piece.
Urban party in Mozambique featuring live music. Also a speeded up version of local majika rhythm.