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Unformatted text preview: Wherever members of an African culture settled in the Western hemisphere, they carried with them musical traits that fused with, and altered,music they encountered. In Brazil, the fusion of African and native Brazilian music resulted in the samba; in the Caribbean Islands, that fusion resulted in the mambo, rumba, meringue, and other dance music now generally categorized as salsa; in America, that fusion produced blues, jazz, and rock. African musical characteristics have been influencing Americas music since the first Africans arrived in Jamestown in 1619twelve years after the English first landed and one year before the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts. The music of these Europeans and Africans became part of Americas cultural melting pot, and the by-product of that process became American popular music. In the South, African musical characteristics were maintained through work songs and religious music, genres that had subtle but significant influence. In the North,African-American freemen contributed to musical life by supplying music for general entertainment and for the military. AFRICAN MUSICAL CHARACTERISTICS It is important to identify prominent African musical characteristics before discussing how those characteristics were preserved.Africa covers 11.7 million square miles and has 250 million inhabitants representing over 2,000 tribal groups speaking between 800 and 2,400 languages.Africans brought to America by traders were from three cultural regions: the tribes of the Yorba, Ashanti, Dohemey, and Ibo from the coastal rain forest of the west, Muslim groups such as the Wolof from the savanna belt, and the Bantu from the Congo/Angolan region. Although many different musical traditions abound, there are certain characteristics that transcend geography: Schafer2129_C01.QXD 7/31/07 11:02 AM Page 1 Hand-clapping The human voice as an important model for instrumental music Music as a communal and functional experience Call-and-response patterns Natural scales and blue notes Buzzing or roughening of sound Polyrhythms and syncopation A percussive approach to sound 1 Hand-Clapping Hand-clapping is the single most important instrument used in musical accompaniment. The hands are natures most basic percussion instrument. Everybody has a pair, and they are used by audience members as a means of participation. During the nineteenth century, the use of hand-clapping expanded to slapping the thighs and shoulders along with stamping the foot. This technique is called pattin juba and is associated with William Henry Lane, an African American better known as Master Juba, the greatest of all dancers during the first half of the nineteenth century. Juba, who accompanied himself on the tambourine, toured with white minstrel shows and, hence, was responsible for helping preserve the African dancing and drumming tradition. Later, pattin juba became known as hambone and acquired a particular rhythm that later became known as the Bo Diddley rhythm...
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