Music in West Africa: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture / Edition 1

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Music in West Africa is one of several case-study volumes that can be used along with Thinking Musically, the core book in the Global Music Series. Thinking Musically incorporates music from many diverse cultures and establishes the framework for exploring the practice of music around the world. It sets the stage for an array of case-study volumes, each of which focuses on a single area of the world. Each case study uses the contemporary musical situation as a point of departure, covering historical information and traditions as they relate to the present. Visit for a list of case studies in the Global Music Series. The website also includes instructional materials to accompany each study.
Music in West Africa presents fundamental style concepts of West African music using a focused case study of performance in Liberia, West Africa, among the Kpelle people. The book discusses the diversity, motifs, and structure of West African music within the larger patterns of the region's culture, highlighting those aspects of Kpelle music that are common to many other West African traditions. It also describes how music and dance in West Africa are tied to the fabric of everyday social and political life.
Kpelle musicians value musical performance where multiple performers each contribute aspects of sound that fit together in elaborate ways. Drawing upon her extensive fieldwork and research, author Ruth Stone--who was raised in the Bong County region of Liberia--centers on key stylistic elements that Kpelle performers articulate and emphasize: faceting or breaking music into smaller parts, layering tone colors, part-counterpart relationships in musical structures, and time and polyrhythm. She explores fascinating parallels to these analytic themes in the textiles and masks of related arts and in broader cultural practices such as greeting sequences.
Music in West Africa is enhanced by eyewitness accounts of local performances, interviews with key performers, and vivid illustrations. Packaged with a 70-minute CD containing examples of the music discussed in the book, it features guided listening and hands-on activities that encourage readers to engage actively and critically with the music.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195145007
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/5/2004
  • Series: Global Music Series
  • Edition description: BOOK & CD
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 1,339,930
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 5.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Indiana University
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Table of Contents

CD Track List
1. Traveling to West Africa
West Africa in Perspective
Music in the Arts and Life
Style Areas
Ideas about Performance
Musical Instruments
2. Performance Facets
Vocal Facets in Epic Performance
Instrumental Facets in Horn Ensemble
Continity in Performance: Woni Ensemble
Vocal and Instrumental Facets in Bush Clearing Songs
Parallels in the Arts
Faceting: Cutting the Edge
Cloth Pattern
Masks and Carved Figures
Greeting Sequences
Obscuring Facets
3. Voices: Layered Tone Colors
Timbre in African Music
Instruments: The Sounds of a Triangular Frame-zither
The Centrality of the Voice
Instruments: Musical Bow
Sound Texture in Epic
Social Resonance
Other Timbral Dimensions of Sound
Symbolic Association of Tone Color
Cloth Color
4. Part-Counterpart: Call and Response
Call and Response Variations
Nonoverlapping Call and Response: Rice Planting Song; Children's Counting Song; Kpelle Rubber Camp Music; Entertainment Love Song
Overlapping Call and Response: Musical Dramatic Folktale (Chante Fable); Epic Performance
Dialogic Relationships
Drummer-Supporting Drummer
Gifts that Keep the Performance Going
5. Time and Polyrhythm
A Master Drummer's Life History
Fitting the Pieces Together
Rhythmic Patterns in the Epic
Inner Time
Kpelle Performance in Liberia
The Island of Lamu, East Africa
The Shona of Southern Africa
The Spiritual World
The Larger Process
Life History
Time in Local Life
Balancing the Qualitative and Quantitative
6. Surveying the Trip: Cutting the Edge
Central Themes

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2014

    Trying to use this book for a college level course was nearly co

    Trying to use this book for a college level course was nearly completely useless. Attempting to write a paper discussing faceting for example is extremely difficult when the author gives vague definitions. Most of the book is filled with information seemingly unrelated in any way to the topic, such as talking about the African people hunting for catfish. While I understand the author's field work was very fascinating and she clearly enjoyed her research, this book is extremely difficult to work with. I would recommend another book, at this point pretty much any. Studying for this final exam trying to use this book is completely aggravating.

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