African Classics of the Post-Colonial Era


From highlife and jùjú in Nigeria, to soukous and makossa in Congo and Cameroon, to the sounds of Manding music in Guinea and “Swinging Addis” in Ethiopia, the decades following World War II saw an explosion of musical creativity that blossomed across sub-Saharan Africa. Syncretic styles merging African aesthetics with European, Caribbean, and American influences and instruments resulted in vibrant new musical genres that harken back to traditional African sources while exploring bold and original musical forms. As European powers formally withdrew from their former colonies, newly inspired African musicians took advantage of broadened artistic resources and created vital, contemporary musical expressions. This performance course will explore a wide range of African musical styles that emerged in the second half of the 20th century. We will undertake a broad musical history, considering prominent groups and individual musicians during this time period, and perform tightly structured arrangements of some of their most effective and influential pieces. There will be some opportunities for genre-appropriate improvisation and soloing. A wide range of instruments will be welcome, including strings, horns, guitars, keyboards, drums, and various other percussion instruments. Basic facility on one's musical instrument is expected, but prior experience with African musical aesthetics is not assumed or required.