By Simha Arom
During this targeted examine Simha Arom takes a brand new and unique method of the knowledge of the advanced and complex styles of polyphony and polyrhythm that characterise African song. contemplating specifically the harp, sanza, xylophone and percussion song of relevant Africa, Simha Arom develops a rigorous strategy for the research of the song and for the recording and interpreting of the numerous strands of polyphony and polyrhythm. via a scientific breakdown of the numerous layers of it appears improvised rhythm he finds the basic constitution which underlies this wealthy and complicated tune. encouraged additionally by way of linguistic recommendations, Professor Arom regards the tune a great deal as a grammatical approach.
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Additional info for African Polyphony and Polyrhythm: Musical Structure and Methodology
And often by orchestral ensembles that include these two types of instruments. Where there are no percussion instruments, they tend to be replaced by hand-clapping, which in certain cases simply serves to mark the beat, and in others produces more complex rhythmic patterns. Although it is sometimes performed without instrumental accompaniment, vocal music that is strictly a cappella hardly exists as such. As soon as the music assumes a 16 TYPOLOGY 17 social, and a fortiori, a cultural function, even if it is performed by only one individual, voice and instrument complement each other: thus, the storyteller, and the poet-chronicler always accompany their narration with a harp, a mvet or some other melodic instrument.
The Ngbaka language, for instance, has three level tones (low, medium, high), to which are added four gliding tones (low-high, high-low, low-high-low, high-low-high) (Thomas 1970: 8). It is easy enough to imagine the number of melodic cells that such combinations could generate. Some languages, such as the Monzombo, resort to four level tones, which gives still more gliding tones, and therefore still more melodic combinations imposed by the language itself. It follows, if the words of a song are to keep their meaning and remain intelligible, that its melody must necessarily remain subservient to them and reproduce their tonal 12 BOOK I T H E M U S I C OF THE C E N T R A L A F R I C A N REPUBLIC schema.
The formal structure is thus isoperiodic. The periodic unit is like the basic material of the musical structure, or a kind of mould. Each periodic unit constitutes a musical unit, that can, in turn, be subdivided into two or more melodic and/or rhythmic units. When vocal music is accompanied by one or more melodic instruments, their part is accordingly based on a periodic unit, itself a repeated formula, whose duration is directly proportional to that of the sung strophe: if the strophe is relatively short, the TYPOLOGY 19 formula will be of equal duration; if it is longer, there will be repeated occurrences (usually two to three) of a formula of shorter duration.