Africa is a continent where a rich and diverse cultural heritage exists; hundreds of different languages are spoken in Africa. During the 7th century, Arabs reached North Africa and influenced the existing culture. This is why African and Arab music share a certain degree of similarity and this extends to some musical instruments as well.
The drum, played either by hand or by using sticks, is an important musical instrument in African culture. They use drums as a means of communication, in fact, much of their history and culture have been passed on for generations through music. Music is a part of their daily life; it is used to convey news, to teach, to tell a story and for religious purposes.
The variety of musical instruments is as diverse as their culture. They make musical instruments out of any material that can produce sound. These include finger bells, flutes, horns, musical bow, thumb piano, trumpets and xylophones.
Singing and Dancing
A singing technique called "call and response" is evident in African vocal music. In "call and response" a person leads by singing a phrase which is then answered by a group of singers. This technique is still very much used in today's music, for example in gospel music.
Dancing requires the movement of various body parts in time to the rhythm. A type of popular music that features social commentary is the "highlife."
For more information on African music visit our Go Africa website.