In this article we will consider the main styles and directions of African music. The music of
Africa contrasts strongly not only with the music of other continents, but also has great
differences within the region itself. This is due to the fact that the territories of central,
northern and western Africa were mastered and developed in different historical periods.
To date, the following main African musical styles can be distinguished: hausa, fuji, griot, jali,
The fuji style originates from the ancient apala through the transformation of once-religious
rhythms into dance ones. The main instrument in this direction are drums, but in addition to
them, much attention is paid to the ukulele, which determines the dance component. The
style got its name due to the fact that its founder drew parallels between his music and
The Hausa style got its name from the Hausa people who live in Nigeria and are the founder
of this musical direction. This style surprisingly combines Islamic vocals and ethnic sound in
music. The leading instruments of this direction are lutes and drums. It should be noted that
in rural areas, ethnic melodies prevail in this direction, while in the urban environment, more
emphasis is placed on the Islamic tradition.
The next traditional African style is jali, which originated in the Mande region, where the
musicians who played in this style even belonged to a separate caste! It should be noted
that this skill was transmitted exclusively by kinship. Jalis in all ages were under the
patronage and protection of the higher castes and always lived at the court, often playing the
role of advisers.
This style was formed from the ancient musical direction of the Apala, the music of the
Yoruba people. These are musical rhythms that used to have a religious meaning and later
turned into dance ones.
Muslim traditional chants are superimposed on ancient African rhythms, but without the
religious orientation of both.
In addition to drums, the main role in this music is played by the ukulele with mamba
rhythms, which largely determines its dance direction.
The style was founded by Sikiru Ayinde, a Nigerian artist who compared his music to Mount
Fuji in the late 70s, which is how the style got its name. Ayinla Kollington and Wasiu
Barrister continued to work in this direction.
Music styles in Africa – Hausa
The Hausa people also live on the territory of modern Nigeria in the area of the spread of
Islam. Hausa music consists of a fusion of the ethnic traditions of the area and Islamic
vocals. Praises to Allah are sung to the accompaniment of lutes and talking drums, where
melody plays a paramount role.
Moreover, in the countryside, the Hausa style is represented by more diverse ethnic aspects,
while in the cities the Islamic tradition is of primary importance. The main musical line is
played on small drums supported by a lute and violin.
This style of African music was born in the Mande region. The ancient Mande society had a
strictly hierarchical order, where the musicians who performed a given music belonged to a
special caste, consisting of musicians and artisans. Jali – the so-called hereditary musicians
who played this music.
All representatives of this profession had certain surnames, and the type of activity was
transferred strictly by kinship. Until now, people born in a jali family are considered exactly
as jali, even if they have never picked up any instrument. They were patronized by
representatives of the highest caste from the ruling class.
One legend tells of a musician who tempted the Prophet Muhammad three times with
disbelief and froze three times, after which he believed and sang prayers and praises to
Allah. Since then, the praise of the Almighty has been the main theme of jali.
"A noble person will not speak freely with any representative of his own class, because he
can become an adversary, at the same time, musicians can be trusted, because they do not
pose any threat … They are journalists who talk about both the present and and about
events from the past. The art of the jali lies in their ability to offer prayers that gave our kings
the courage to win battles, "- this is how the outstanding contemporary performer Jali Nyama
Suso says about his art.
Jalis have always lived at the courts of their princes and acted as advisers, mediators and
just friends and confidants. Thanks to the art of singing and speaking, they were ideal
mediators and played important social roles. They settled conflicts, served as matchmakers
and ambassadors. Traditionally, jali lived off the generosity of their patrons. They never
received payment, but accepted gifts of various kinds, sometimes of great value, such as
allotments of land, animals, or slaves.
Each jali is in a state of honest and sincere friendship with his patrons. Therefore, in the
songs there are constant reminders of the need to be tolerant and loyal in relationships
between people. The peacekeeping mission and prayer chants are the main meaning of the
work of jali. In today's society, they also interact with today's presidents and politicians in
Considering the various styles of music, one cannot fail to note the next modern style of
Makossa, which reached its popularity in the 70-80s of the last century. Born in Cameroon, it
quickly gained popularity thanks to the talented performers of our time. These are folk songs
and dances performed on guitars and accordions. In the 80s, makossa became very popular
in Paris, where its rhythms formed the basis of electronic dance music for clubs. Famous
makoss performers: Bebe Manga, Eboa Lotin, Misse Ngoh, Lapiro Mbanga, San Fan
National song genre in Cape Verde. Morna is something between music and poetry. The
whole soul of the people of Cape Verde is reflected here. Morna was formed from the fusion
of the Portuguese fado, the rhythms of ancient Angola and the Portuguese-Brazilian
modinha. The classic themes of long melancholic poems characteristic of this style are death
and love, meeting and parting, travel and return to relatives and loved ones. Sometimes the
morna is cheerful satirical improvisation, but more often soulful and melancholic music.
Before the advent of electric instruments, mornas were played mainly on strings, often with
accordion and piano. The classical sound of the morna is high string sounds, sometimes a
guitar was used. The cavaquinho and viola, guitar-like instruments with 4 and 12 strings
respectively, are most commonly heard in early morna recordings.
They give recognizable characteristic high sounds. The main rhythm is distinguished, as a
rule, by maracas. Modern performances often involve many European instruments, up to
and including a drum set. The most famous performer of this genre is Cesaria Evora. She is
well known in Russia, she has repeatedly come with concerts. The violinist Josinho and the
singer Bana are also quite famous, continuing their performances to this day. There are
many more well-known performers. If you want to know about more extreme entertainment –
visit the m22Bet platform.
Musical style, in fact, has nothing to do with music. It's mostly a storytelling tradition. In
Africa, there is not much difference between a singer and a storyteller, and both are done
mainly to rhythmic accompaniments. Since ancient times, there have been wandering
storytellers who are the keepers of ancient cultural traditions. Here and there they gathered
people around them and led their story about what they saw and heard in different places.
They told the stories of their ancestors, legends and tales have survived to this day precisely
thanks to such people.
Like the jali, the griot is always out of politics and human passions. They accompanied their
stories by playing the bark or drum. Traditional modern rap has its roots from them.
Leave a Comment