Saturday, November 17, 2007

Music of Nigeria

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The music of Nigeria includes many kinds of folk and popular music, some of which are known worldwide. Styles of folk music are related to the multitudes of ethnic groups in the country, each with their own techniques, instruments, and songs. Little is known about the country's music history prior to European contact, although bronze carvings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries have been found depicting musicians and their instruments.[1]
Nigeria has been called "the heart of African music" because of its role in the development of West African highlife and palm-wine music, which fuses native rhythms with techniques imported from the Congo for the development of several popular styles that were unique to Nigeria, like apala, fuji, jùjú, and Yo-pop. Subsequently, Nigerian musicians created their own styles of United States hip hop music and Jamaican reggae. Nigeria's musical output has achieved international acclaim not only in the fields of folk and popular music,[2] but also Western art music written by composers such as Fela Sowande.
Polyrhythms, in which two or more separate beats are played simultaneously, are a part of much of traditional African music;[3] Nigeria is no exception. The African hemiola style, based on the asymmetric rhythm pattern[4] is an important rhythmic technique throughout the continent. Nigerian music also uses ostinato rhythms, in which a rhythmic pattern is repeated despite changes in metre.

Nigeria has some of the most advanced recording studio technology in Africa, and provides robust commercial opportunities for music performers. Ronnie Graham, an historian who specialises in West Africa, has attributed the success of the Nigerian music industry to the country's culture—its "thirst for aesthetic and material success and a voracious appetite for life, love and music, [and] a huge domestic market, big enough to sustain artists who sing in regional languages and experiment with indigenous styles". However, political corruption and rampant music piracy in Nigeria has hampered the industry's growth.[5]
1 Folk music
1.1 The Hausa
1.2 The Igbo
1.3 The Yoruba
1.4 Theatrical music
1.5 Children's music
1.6 Traditional instruments
1.6.1 Percussion
1.6.2 String instruments
1.6.3 Other instruments
2 Popular music
2.1 Palm-wine and the invention of jùjú
2.2 Apala
2.3 The 1950s, '60s and '70s
2.3.1 The modernisation of jùjú
2.3.2 The spread of highlife
2.3.3 The birth of fuji
2.3.4 Diversification: Ade and Obey
2.4 The 1980s and '90s
2.4.1 1980s: Yo-pop and Afro-jùjú
2.4.2 Afrobeat
2.4.3 Waka
2.4.4 Reggae and hip hop
3 Music at festivals and holidays
4 Classical music
5 References
6 Notes
7 Further reading
8 External links

[edit] Folk music
More than 250
ethnic groups are native to Nigeria, and many more have immigrated there in recent years; the largest ethnic groups are the Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba tribes. Traditional music from Nigeria and throughout Africa is almost always functional; in other words, it is performed to mark a ritual such as a wedding or funeral and not for pure entertainment or artistic enjoyment.[6] Although some Nigerians, especially children and the elderly, play instruments for their own amusement, solo performance is otherwise rare. Music is closely linked to agriculture, and there are restrictions on, for example, which instruments can be played during different parts of the growing season.
Work songs are a common type of traditional Nigerian music. They help to keep the rhythm of workers in fields, river canoes and other fields. Women use complex rhythms in housekeeping tasks, such as pounding yams to highly ornamented music. In the northern regions, farmers work together on each other's farms and the host is expected to supply musicians for his neighbours.
Musicians in Nigeria are typically not professionals, though there are some exceptions; the northern
Muslims in eastern Adamawa, for example, do have groups of specialised musicians. The issue of musical composition is also highly variable. The Hwana, for example, believe that all songs are taught by the peoples' ancestors, while the Tiv give credit to named composers for almost all songs, and the Efik name individual composers only for secular songs. In many parts of Nigeria, musicians are allowed to say things in their lyrics that would otherwise be perceived as offensive.

The most common format for music in Nigeria is the call-and-response choir, in which a lead singer and a chorus interchange verses, sometimes accompanied by instruments that either shadow the lead text or repeat and ostinato vocal phrase. The southern area features complex rhythms and solo players using melody instruments, while the north more typically features polyphonic wind ensembles. The extreme north region is associated with monodic (i.e., single-line) music with an emphasis on drums, and tends to be more influenced by Islamic music.
Epic poetry is found in parts of Nigeria, and its performance is always viewed as musical in nature. Blind itinerant performers, sometimes accompanying themselves with a string instrument, are known for reciting long poems of unorthodox Islamic text among the Kanuri and Hausa. These, and other related traditions, may be descended from similar Maghrebian and European traditions. The Ozidi Saga found in the Niger Delta is a well-known epic that takes seven days to perform and utilises; a narrator, a chorus, percussion, mime and dance.

[edit] The Hausa
Main article:
Hausa music
The people of the north are known for complex percussive music, the one-stringed goje fiddle, and a strong praise song vocal tradition. Under Muslim influence since the 14th century, Hausa music uses free-rhythmic improvisation and the Arabic scale, melding them with West African elements such as polyrhythms and call-and-response vocalisation.[7] Music is used to celebrate births, marriages, circumcisions, and other important life events. Hausa ceremonial music (rokon fada) is well known in the area, and is dominated by families of praise singers, including, most famously, Narambad.[8] The Hausa play percussion instruments such as the tambura drum and the royal, elongated kakaki trumpet[9] which was originally used by the Songhai cavalry and was taken by the rising Hausa states as a symbol of military power"[10] Kakaki trumpets can be more than two metres long, and can be easily broken down into three portable parts for easy transportation.[11]
Rural Hausa music includes dances such as asauwara (for young females) and the spirit possession dance bòòríí. Hausa folk music has produced popular entertainers, including Dan Maraya (known for his one-stringed lute, the kontigi), Audo Yaron Goje, Muhamman Shata and Ibrahim Na Habu (known for his kukkuma fiddling).[12]
The Hausa bòòríí cult is especially well known outside the country, and has been brought as far north as Tripoli, Libya by trans-Saharan trade. The bòòríí cult features a kind of hypnotic, trance-inducing music, played on the calabash, lute or fiddle. During ceremonies, women and other marginalised groups fall into trances and perform various dramatic behaviours, such as mimicking a pig or engaging in human sex. These people are said to be possessed by a character, each with its own litany (kírààrì). Similar trance cults (the so-called "mermaid cults"), can be found in the Niger Delta region.

[edit] The Igbo
Main article:
Igbo Music
The Igbo people live in the south-east of Nigeria, and play a wide variety of folk instruments. They are known for their ready adoption of foreign styles, and were an important part of Nigerian highlife.[13] The most widespread instrument is the 13-stringed zither, called an obo. The Igbo also play slit drums, xylophones, flutes, lyres, udus and lutes, and more recently, imported European brass instruments.
Courtly music is played among the more traditional Igbo, maintain their royal traditions. The ufie (
slit drum) is used to wake the chief and communicate meal times and other important information to him. Bell and drum ensembles are used to announce when the chief departs and returns to his village.[14]

[edit] The Yoruba
Main article:
Yoruba music
The Yoruba have an advanced drumming tradition, with a characteristic use of the dundun hourglass tension drums. Ensembles using the dundun play a type of music that is also called dundun.[15] These ensembles consist of various sizes of tension drums, along with kettledrums (gudugudu). The leader of a dundun ensemble is the iyalu, who uses the drum to "talk" by imitating the tonality of Yoruba[16] Much of Yoruba music is spiritual in nature, and is devoted to the Orisha of Yoruba mythology.
Yoruba music has become the most important component of modern Nigerian popular music, as a result of its early influence from European, Islamic and
Brazilian forms. These influences stemmed from the importation of brass instruments, sheet music, Islamic percussion and styles brought by Brazilian merchants.[17] In both the Nigeria's most populous city, Lagos, and the largest city of Ibadan, these multicultural traditions were brought together and became the root of Nigerian popular music. Modern styles such as Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister's fuji, Salawa Abeni's waka and Yusuf Olatunji's sakara are derived primarily from Yoruban traditional music.

[edit] Theatrical music
theatre makes extensive use of music. Often, this is simply traditional music used in a theatrical production without adaptation. However, there are also distinct styles of music used in Nigerian opera. Here, music is used to convey an impression of the dramatic action to the audience. Music is also used in literary drama, although its musical accompaniment is more sparingly used than in opera; again, music communicates the mood or tone of events to the audience. An example is Christian Guest's The Ozidi Saga, a play about murder and revenge, featuring both human and non-human actors. Each character in the play is associated with a personal theme song, which accompanies battles in which the character is involved.
Traditional Nigerian theatre includes
puppet shows in Borno State and among the Ogoni and Tiv, and the ancient Yoruba Aláàrìnjó tradition, which may be descended from the Egúngún masquerade. With the influx of road-building colonial powers, these theatre groups spread across the country and their productions grew ever more elaborate. They now typically use European instruments, film extracts and recorded music.
In the past, both
Hubert Ogunde and Ade Love, of blessed memories, produced soundtracks of their movies using very rich Yoruba language. Modern day Yoruba film and theater music composers among whom Tope Alabi is the flagbearer have variously accompanied dramatic actions with original music.

[edit] Children's music
Children in Nigeria have many of their own traditions, usually singing
games. These are most often call-and-response type songs, using archaic language. There are other songs, such as among the Tarok people that are sexually explicit and obscene, and are only performed far away from the home. Children also use instruments like un-pitched raft zithers (made from cornstalks) and drums made from tin cans, a pipe made from a pawpaw stem and a Jew's harp made from a sorghum stalk. Among the Hausa, children play a unique instrument in which they beat rhythms on the inflated stomach of a live, irritated pufferfish.

[edit] Traditional instruments
Although percussion instruments are omnipresent, Nigeria's traditional music uses a number of diverse instruments. Many, such as the
xylophone, are an integral part of music across West Africa, while others are imports from the Muslims of the Maghreb, or from Southern or East Africa; other instruments have arrived from Europe or the Americas. Brass instruments and woodwinds were early imports that played a vital role in the development of Nigerian music, while the later importation of electric guitars spurred the popularisation of jùjú music.

[edit] Percussion

Drummers in Ojumo Oro, Kwara State.
The xylophone is a tuned
idiophone, common throughout west and central Africa. In Nigeria, they are most common in the southern part of the country, and are of the central African model. Several people sometimes simultaneously play a single xylophone. The instruments are usually made of loose wood placed across banana logs. Pit- and box-resonated xylophones are also found. Ensembles of clay pots beaten with a soft pad are common; they are sometimes filled with water. Although normally tuned, untuned examples are sometimes used to produce a bass rhythm. Hollow logs are also used, split lengthways, with resonator holes at the end of the slit. They were traditionally used to communicate over great distances.
Various bells are a common part of royal regalia, and were used in
secret societies. They are usually made of iron, or in Islamic orchestras of the north, of bronze. Struck gourds, placed on a cloth and struck with sticks, are a part of women's music, as well as the bòòríí cult dances. Sometimes, especially in the north, gourds are placed upside-down in water, with the pitch adjusted by the amount of air underneath it. In the south-west, a number of tuned gourds are played while floating in a trough.
Scrapers are common throughout the south. One of the most common types is a notched stick, played by dragging a shell across the stick at various speeds. It is used both as a women's court instrument and by children in teasing games. Among the Yoruba, an iron rod may be used as a replacement for a stick. Rattles are common, made of gourds containing seeds or stones are common, as are net-rattles, in which a string network of beads or shells encloses a gourd. Rattles are typically played in ritual or religious context, predominantly by women.
Drums of many kinds are the most common type of percussion instrument in Nigeria. They are traditionally made from a single piece of wood or spherical calabashes, but have more recently been made from oil drums. The hourglass drum is the most common shape, although there are also double-headed barrel drums, single-headed drums and conical drums.
Frame drums are also found in Nigeria, but may be an importation from Brazil. An unusual percussion instrument is the udu, a kind of vessel drum.

[edit] String instruments
musical bow is found in Nigeria as a mouth-resonated cord, either plucked or struck. It is most common in the central part of the country, and is associated with agricultural songs and those expressing social concerns. Cereal stalks bound together and strings supported by two bridges are used to make a kind of raft-zither, played with the thumbs, typically for solo entertainment. The arched harp is found in the eastern part of the country, especially among the Tarok. It usually has five or six strings and pentatonic tuning. A bowl-resonated spike-fiddle with a lizard skin table is used in the northern region; it is an import from North Africa, and is similar to central Asian and Ethiopian forms. The Hausa and Kanuri peoples play a variety of spike-lutes.

[edit] Other instruments
A variety of
brass and woodwind instruments are also found in Nigeria. These include long trumpets, frequently made of aluminium and played in pairs or ensembles of up to six, often accompanied by a shawm. Wooden trumpets, gourd trumpets, end-blown flutes, cruciform whistles, transverse clarinets and various kinds of horns are also found.

[edit] Popular music
Many African countries have seen turbulence and violence during their forced transition from a diverse region of folk cultures to a group of modern nation states. Nigeria has experienced more difficulty than most African countries in forging a popular cultural identity from the diverse peoples of the countryside
[18] . From its beginnings in the streets of Lagos, popular music in Nigeria has long been an integral part of the field of African pop, bringing in influences and instruments from many ethnic groups, most prominently including the Yoruba.
The earliest styles of Nigerian popular music were
palm-wine music and highlife, which spread in the 1920s among Nigeria and nearby countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana. In Nigeria, palm-wine became the primary basis for jùjú, a genre that dominated popular music for many years. During this time, a few other styles such as apala, derived from traditional Yoruban music, also found a more limited audience. By the 1960s, Cuban, American and other styles of imported music were enjoying a large following, and musicians started to incorporate these influences into jùjú. The result was a profusion of new styles in the last few decades of the 20th century, including waka music, Yo-pop and Afrobeat.

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