The African Ensemble in America

David Locke

in Performing Ethnomusicology

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780520238749
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937178 | DOI:
The African Ensemble in America

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This chapter gives a striking account of prevailing contradictions and various possibilities for teaching African music in the United States of America. The study tends to raise political issues because of the nation's history of African slavery and its troubled race relations. At the same time, African music is also remarkably popular. Composers seek creative ideas from its musical structures; players find that their musicianship is enhanced through studying ensemble performance; and general listeners appreciate popular and traditional African music. Thus, in terms of political sensitivity and musical significance, people making African music in the United States operate within an especially intense field. This chapter also highlights performance philosophy in the context of African music. The current unprecedented efficiency and scope of globalization encourages many to think of humanity as one worldwide society, so that musical styles of planetary popularity emerge in tandem with the growth of transnational businesses. The African music ensemble is therefore seen as a force for this change.

Keywords: African music; slavery; ensemble performance; United States; political issues

Chapter.  9737 words. 

Subjects: Ethnomusicology

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