Today's practitioners of what we once called "modern" music are finding themselves to be suddenly alone. A bewildering backlash is set against any music making that requires the disciplines and tools of research for its genesis. Stories now circulate that amplify and magnify this troublesome trend. It once was that one could not even approach a major music school in the US unless well prepared to bear the commandments and tenets of serialism. When one hears now of professors shamelessly studying scores of Respighi in order to extract the magic of their mass audience appeal, we know there's a crisis. This crisis exists in the perceptions of even the most educated musicians. Composers today seem to be hiding from certain difficult truths regarding the creative process. They have abandoned their search for the tools that will help them create really striking and challenging listening experiences. I believe that is because they are confused about many notions in modern music making!
First, let's examine the attitudes that are needed, but that have been abandoned, for the development of special disciplines in the creation of a lasting modern music. This music that we can and must create provides a crucible in which the magic within our souls is brewed, and it is this that frames the templates that guide our very evolution in creative thought. It is this generative process that had its flowering in the early 1950s. By the 1960s, many emerging musicians had become enamored of the wonders of the fresh and exciting new world of Stockhausen's integral serialism that was then the rage. There seemed limitless excitement, then. It seemed there would be no bounds to the creative impulse; composers could do anything, or so it seemed. At the time, most composers hadn't really examined serialism carefully for its inherent limitations. But it seemed so fresh. However, it soon became apparent that it was Stockhausen's exciting musical approach that was fresh, and not so much the serialism itself, to which he was then married. It became clear, later, that the methods he used were born of two special considerations that ultimately transcend serial devices: crossing tempi and metrical patterns; and, especially, the concept that treats pitch and timbre as special cases of rhythm. (Stockhausen referred to the crossovers as "contacts", and he even entitled one of his compositions that explored this realm Kontakte.) These gestures, it turns out, are really independent from serialism in that they can be explored from different approaches.
The most spectacular approach at that time was serialism, though, and not so much these (then-seeming) sidelights. It is this very approach -- serialism -- however, that after having seemingly opened so many new doors, germinated the very seeds of modern music's own demise. The method is highly prone to mechanical divinations. Consequently, it makes composition easy, like following a recipe. In serial composition, the less thoughtful composer seemingly can divert his/her soul away from the compositional process. Inspiration can be buried, as method reigns supreme. The messy intricacies of note shaping, and the epiphanies one experiences from necessary partnership with one's essences (inside the mind and the soul -- in a sense, our familiars) can be discarded conveniently. All is rote. All is compartmentalized. For a long time this was the honored method, long hallowed by classroom teachers and young composers-to-be, alike, at least in the US. Soon, a sense of sterility emerged in the musical atmosphere; many composers started to examine what was taking place.
The replacement of sentimental romanticism with atonal music had been a crucial step in the extrication of music from a torpid cul-de-sac. A music that would closet itself in banal self-indulgence, such as what seemed to be occurring with romanticism, would decay. Here came a time for exploration. The new alternative --atonality -- arrived. It was the fresh, if seemingly harsh, antidote. Arnold Schonberg had saved music, for the time being. However, shortly thereafter, Schonberg made a serious tactical faux pas. The 'rescue' was truncated by the introduction of a method by which the newly freed process could be subjected to control and order! I have to express some sympathy here for Sch�nberg, who felt adrift in the sea of freedom provided by the disconnexity of atonality. Large forms depend upon some sense of sequence. For him a method of ordering was needed. Was serialism a good answer? I'm not so certain it was. Its introduction provided a magnet that would attract all those who felt they needed explicit maps from which they could build patterns. By the time Stockhausen and Boulez arrived on the scene, serialism was touted as the cure for all musical problems, even for lack of inspiration!
Pause for a minute and think of two pieces of Schonberg that bring the problem to light: Pierrot Lunaire, Op. 21 (1912 - pre-serial atonality) and the Suite, Op. 29 (1924 serial atonality). Pierrot... seems so vital, unchained, almost lunatic in its special frenzy, while the Suite sounds sterile, dry, forced. In the latter piece the excitement got lost. This is what serialism seems to have done to music. Yet the attention it received was all out of proportion to its generative power. Boulez once even proclaimed all other composition to be "useless"! If the 'disease' --serialism --was bad, one of its 'cures' --free chance --was worse. In a series of lectures in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1958, John Cage managed to prove that the outcome of music written by chance means differs very little from that written using serialism. However, chance seemed to leave the public bewildered and angry. Chance is chance. There is nothing on which to hold, nothing to guide the mind. Even powerful musical personalities, such as Cage's, often have trouble reining in the raging dispersions and diffusions that chance scatters, seemingly aimlessly. But, again, many schools, notably in the US, detected a sensation in the making with the entry of free chance into the music scene, and indeterminacy became a new mantra for anyone interested in creating something, anything, so long as it was new.
I believe parenthetically that one can concede Cage some quarter that one might be reluctant to cede to others. Often chance has become a citadel of lack of discipline in music. Too often I've seen this outcome in university classes in the US that 'teach 'found (!)' music. The rigor of discipline in music making should never be shunted away in search of a music that is 'found', rather than composed. However, in a most peculiar way, the power of Cage's personality, and his surprising sense of rigor and discipline seem to rescue his 'chance' art, where other composers simply flounder in the sea of uncertainty.
Still, as a solution to the rigor mortis so cosmically bequeathed to music by serial controls, chance is a very poor stepsister. The Cageian composer who can make chance music talk to the soul is a rare bird indeed. What seemed missing to many was the perfume that makes music so wonderfully evocative. The ambiance that a Debussy could evoke, or the fright that a Schonberg could invoke (or provoke), seemed to evaporate with the modern technocratic or free-spirited ways of the new musicians. Iannis Xenakis jolted the music world with the potent solution in the guise of a 'stochastic' music. As Xenakis' work would evolve later into excursions into connexity and disconnexity, providing a template for Julio Estrada's Continuum, the path toward re-introducing power, beauty and fragrance into sound became clear. All this in a 'modernist' conceptual approach!
Once again, though, the US university milieu took over (mostly under the stifling influence of the serial methodologist, Milton Babbitt) to remind us that it's not nice to make music by fashioning it through 'borrowings' from extra-musical disciplines. Throughout his book, Conversations with Xenakis, the author, Balint Andr�s Vargas, along with Xenakis, approaches the evolution of Xenakis' work from extra-musical considerations. Physical concepts are brought to bear, such as noise propagating through a crowd, or hail showering upon metal rooftops. Some relate to terrible war memories of experiences suffered by Xenakis, culminating in a serious wound. To shape such powerful sounds, concepts akin to natural phenomena had to be marshaled. From the standpoint of the musical classroom, two things about Xenakis are most troubling: one is his relative lack of formal musical training; the other, or flip side, is his scientifically oriented schooling background. In ways no one else in musical history had ever done, Xenakis marshaled concepts that gave birth to a musical atmosphere that no one had ever anticipated could exist in a musical setting. One most prominent feature is a sound setting that emulates Brownian movement of a particle on a liquid surface. This profoundly physical concept needed high-powered mathematics to constrain the movements of the (analogous) sound 'particles' and make them faithful to the concept Xenakis had in mind. There is, as a result, a certain inexactitude, albeit a physical slipperiness, to the movement of the sound particles. Nice musical smoothness and transition give way to unpredictable evolution and transformation. This concept blows the skin off traditional concepts of musical pattern setting! Its iridescent shadows are unwelcome in the gray gloom of the American classroom.
In their haste to keep musical things musical, and to rectify certain unwanted trends, the official musical intelligentsia, (the press, the US university elite, professors, etc.) managed to find a way to substitute false heroes for the troubling Xenakis. Around the time of Xenakis' entry into the musical scene, and his troubling promulgation of throbbing musical landscapes, attendant with sensational theories involving stochastic incarnations, a group of composers emerged who promised to deliver us from evil, with simple-minded solutions erected on shaky intuitional edifices. The so-called 'cluster' group of would-be musical sorcerers included Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk G�recki and Gyorgy Ligeti. These new musical darlings, with their easy methodologies, gave us the first taste of the soon-to-emerge post-modernism that has posed as our ticket to the Promised Land for the last thirty years. It seemed that, just as music finally had a master of the caliber and importance of Bach, Schonberg, Bartok and Varese in the person of one Iannis Xenakis, history and musicology texts seemed not to be able to retreat quickly enough to embrace the new saviors, all the while conspiring against an all embracing creativity found fast, and well-embedded within the turmoil of the stochastic process.
Alas, Xenakis has been exiled from American history, as much as the powers have been able to do so! His competition, those in the intuitive cluster school, became the fixtures of the new musical landscape, because their art is so much easier than that of Xenakis. Ease of composing, of analyzing and of listening are the new bywords that signal success in the music world. Those who extol such virtues herald the arrival and flourishing of post-modernism and all its guises, be it neo-romantic, clustering or eclecticism. The proud cry these days, is "Now we can do about anything we wish." Better, perhaps, to do nothing than to embrace such intellectual cowardice.
The promise of a return to musical fragrances that walk in harmony and synchronicity with intellectual potency was precious and vital. It should signal the next phase of evolution in the creative humanities. The challenge to write about this potential of a marriage of humanities was overwhelming. No adequate text seemed to exist. So I had to provide one. All that was lacking for a good book was a unifying theme.
Algorithms control the walk of the sounds. Algorithms are schemata that work the attributes of sound to enable them to unfold meaningfully. An algorithm is a step-function that can range from a simple diagram to stochastic or Boolean functions. Even serialism is an algorithm. While they are important, algorithms take second place in importance to the focus of music: its sound. This concentration is given a terminology by composer, Gerard Pape: sound-based composition. Isn't all music sound based? It's all sound, after all.
Well, yes, but not really. The point of the term is to highlight the emphasis of the approach being on the sound, rather than on the means used for its genesis. In sound-based composition, one concentrates on a sound, then conjures the way to create it. In serialism, ordering takes precedence over quality. The result often is vapid: empty sound. Directionless pointillism robs music of its vital role, the conjuring of imagery, in whatever guise. The other leading practitioner of sound-based composition is Dr. Julio Estrada. In his composition classes and seminars at UNAM (Universidad National Autonoma de Mexico), he emphasizes the mental formation of an imaginary, sort of an idealized imagery. Then the composer/students are directed to formulate a conspirator sound essence that conveys something of the plan of this imaginary. Only then, once the construct of sound is concocted, is the method of sound shaping in the form of notation employed. Understanding of imagery and of fragrance precedes their specification. This is a sophisticated example of sound-based composition.
A curious, special case arose out of the arcane methods of Giacinto Scelsi, who made explicit what long had been lurking in the background. He posited a '3rd dimension' to sound. He felt that the trouble with the serialists was in their reliance upon two dimensions in sound: the pitch and the duration. For Scelsi, timbre provides a depth, or 3rd dimension, explored only rarely until his groundbreaking work. He devised ways to call for unusual timbres, and evolutions of timbre that resulted in his focusing on the characteristics of, and the transformations between (within!), attributes of single tones. Indeed, his Quattro Pezzi are veritable studies in counterpoint within single tones!
This concept of sound-based composition provided the unifying seed around which a book could be built. It would be one that could salvage something of the first principles of the union of intellectual discipline and a vibrant sound context: that is, music with meaning, challenge, discipline, ambience and something that requires courage and commitment in its conception. Such would be a music that yields special, beautiful, powerful, alluring fruits, which, nonetheless, disclose their secrets only reluctantly, demanding skillful teasing out of their magic.
This epiphany revealed a road by which we could reestablish the Xenakian ideal of musical power attainable primarily through processes that have their basis in the physics and architecture of the world around us. Here was not only the answer, the antidote, if you will, to the rigidities of serialism, but also a cure for the sloppiness of unconstrained chance composition. Here was a way out of the impasse confronting composition in the 1960s. The question should be not what method to use to compose, for that leads only to blind alleys (serialism, chance or retreat), but why compose? What is in the musical universe that can open pathways not yet explored, pathways that reveal something that stir a soul? What is the best way to accomplish that?
If we abandon the search for unique roads and for challenge, we will become the first generation ever in music to proclaim that backwards movement is progress; that less is more. Yet the very apostles of post-modernism will have us believe just that! They hold that the public has rejected modernism; the public has held modernism to be bankrupt. Post-modernists will lure you into the trap that, because of its unmitigated complexity, serialism promised only its demise. "The only road into modernism is sterile complexity; we need to root this out, and return to simplicity. We won't have a saleable product, otherwise." This is the thinking that gave us minimalism, the nearest relative to 'muzak' one can conjure in art-music. One composer, a one-time avant-gardist, actually apologized for his former modernity, on stage, to the audience, before a performance of his latest post-modern work!
There is an inscription in the halls of a monastery in Toledo, Spain: "Caminantes, no hay caminos, hay que caminar" (pilgrims, there is no road, only the travel). This was a beacon for one of music history's most courageous pilgrims - a fighter for freedom for the mind, for the body, and for the ear: Luigi Nono. His example could serve us all well. He exposed himself to grave danger as a fighter against oppression of all kinds, not least of all the musical kind. It takes courage to create. It isn't supposed to be easy! Nothing worthwhile ever is. It would seem to me that Nono's example serves as the antithesis to that of the previous composer.
I examine music history of the 20th century to find clues as to why certain composers generate more excitement than others. Is it possible that sound-based composition has flourished in an intuitive way from back into the 19th century? Has it been around a while, but just not codified explicitly as such? I feel that is so. To some extent the roots of this idea can be found in the so-called nationalism of such composers as Bartok and Janacek. Nationalism has gotten something of a bad rap due to folksy, cutesy concoctions usually redolent within its environments. But, upon reflection and examination, the more rigorous efforts in nationalistic composition yield tremendous fruits. Note especially Bartok's highly original devices of twelve-tone tonality (e.g., axis positions and special chords). Less well known, but important as well, are the special folk vocal inflections resident in Jan�cek's music. These special qualities spilled over from the vocal to the instrumental writing. So it appears that we can make a strong case for sound-based composition (composition focused on special sound qualities) being rooted in the music by the turn of the 20th century.
The process of creation is the focus; not the glorification of the superficial sounds that only mimic real music. The reinstatement of Xenakis', Nono's, Scelsi's and Estrada's ideals to preeminence was crucial. The recognition of these trends, in preference to those of the more facile and easily attractive ones espoused by Penderecki, Ligeti and others, had to be ensured. The easy lure of cluster music had to be resisted.
If we don't make this distinction clear, all that follows is nonsense. Too many people apply modernism to anything that resided in the 20th century that contained a little dissonance. That is a common error. For others, modernism exists in any era - it simply is what's happening at a given time, and is appropriate as a description for music in that era. This, too, is wrong for its reluctance to confront the creative process.
We mustn't yield to these impulsive descriptions, for to do so renders the profound efforts of the 20th century meaningless. There is a unifying thread in music that qualifies it to be considered modern, or modernist, and it isn't just a time frame. Modernism is an attitude. This attitude appears periodically in music history, but it is most effectively understood in the context of creativity, most pronouncedly found late in the 20th century. Modern music is the music composed that results from research into the attributes of sound, and into the ways we perceive sound. It usually involves experimentation; the experimentation yields special discoveries that bear fruit in the act of composition. This distinction is crucial; for even though much cluster music, and some neo-classical music, contains high dissonance, their focus is reactionary. The experimental work of Schonberg, Berg, Webern, Bartok, Varese, and that of some Stravinsky, is forward-looking, in that the music is not a solution unto itself: it provides a template for further work and exploration into that area. Even more so, the works of Cage, Xenakis, Scelsi, Nono and Estrada.
The composers chosen for discussion herein are the ones I consider to be the most exemplary models in the development of sound based composition. They are as follows:
-Janacek (nationalist inflection)
-Mahler (expressionism and tone-color melody)
-Malipiero (intuitive discourse)
-Hindemith (expressionism in a quasi-tonal context)
-Stravinsky (octatonic diatonicism)
-Bartok (axial tonality, arch form, golden section construction)
-Schonberg (expressionism, atonality, klangfarbenmelodie))
-Berg ('tonal' serialism)
-Webern (canonic forms in serialism, klangfarbenmelodie)
-Varese (noise, timbral/range hierarchies)
-Messiaen (modes of limited transposition, non-retrogradable rhythms, color chords)
-Boulez (special live electronics instruments)
-Stockhausen (pitch/rhythm dichotomy)
-Cage (indeterminacy, noise, live electronics)
-Xenakis (Ataxy, stochastic music, inside-outside time attributes, random walks, granularity, non-periodic scales)
-Nono (near inaudibility, mobile sound, special electronics)
-Lutoslawski (chain composition)
-Scelsi (the 3rd dimension in sound, counterpoint within a single tone)
-Estrada (The Continuum)
There is so much glitter in the world, and so much noise pollution that we are being rendered incapable of reflection and of creative thought. We become mortified at the thought of a little challenge. We are paralyzed when faced with the challenge of keeping our evolutionary legacy in focus. We cannot afford to trade away quality for mediocrity, just because mediocrity is easier and more enticing. This would not be an acceptable social outcome. To live we must thrive. To thrive we cannot rest.
Entertainment is a laudable pursuit in certain settings and times. It cannot be the force that drives our lives. If a composer desires to write entertaining music, that is all right. But that composer must be honest about his or her motives for doing so. Do not write entertainment and then try to con the public by claiming this is great music. It is best to be able to discover the key to the writing of a music that can fulfill a need for tomorrow. By understanding nature, the nature of sound and the human condition, we can write music capable of conveying something essential. That goes beyond entertainment. It fulfills music's most crucial purpose: providing a teaching role. What better way to go through a learning process than to find oneself doing so while wrapped in a cocoon of beauty? Music can be our best teacher.
It is all right to find beauty in old sources. Even Respighi can be very charming, engaging. It is also just as good to listen to soothing, euphonious music as it is to write such music. But can't we as composers do better than this? Why can't we give something besides pleasure to tomorrow? Young composers today are at a crossroads. They can fulfill a vital mission by helping fulfill a tradition that carries on a cultural legacy. Today's composers must begin to dream; and then compose.
By James L. McHard, author of "The Future of Modern Music" Iconic Press, P.O. Box 510355, Livonia, MI 48151 http://www.futureofmodernmusic.com
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By Titus Kamau
This is a list of some of the world's music genre and their definitions.
African Folk - Music held to be typical of a nation or ethnic group, known to all segments of its society, and preserved usually by oral tradition.
Afro jazz - Refers to jazz music which has been heavily influenced by African music. The music took elements of marabi, swing and American jazz and synthesized this into a unique fusion. The first band to really achieve this synthesis was the South African band Jazz Maniacs.
Afro-beat - Is a combination of Yoruba music, jazz, Highlife, and funk rhythms, fused with African percussion and vocal styles, popularized in Africa in the 1970s.
Afro-Pop - Afropop or Afro Pop is a term sometimes used to refer to contemporary African pop music. The term does not refer to a specific style or sound, but is used as a general term to describe African popular music.
Apala - Originally derived from the Yoruba people of Nigeria. It is a percussion-based style that developed in the late 1930s, when it was used to wake worshippers after fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Assiko - is a popular dance from the South of Cameroon. The band is usually based on a singer accompanied with a guitar, and a percussionnist playing the pulsating rhythm of Assiko with metal knives and forks on an empty bottle.
Batuque - is a music and dance genre from Cape Verde.
Bend Skin - is a kind of urban Cameroonian popular music. Kouchoum Mbada is the most well-known group associated with the genre.
Benga - Is a musical genre of Kenyan popular music. It evolved between the late 1940s and late 1960s, in Kenya's capital city of Nairobi.
Biguine - is a style of music that originated in Martinique in the 19th century. By combining the traditional bele music with the polka, the black musicians of Martinique created the biguine, which comprises three distinct styles, the biguine de salon, the biguine de bal and the biguines de rue.
Bikutsi - is a musical genre from Cameroon. It developed from the traditional styles of the Beti, or Ewondo, people, who live around the city of Yaounde.
Bongo Flava - it has a mix of rap, hip hop, and R&B for starters but these labels don't do it justice. It's rap, hip hop and R&B Tanzanian style: a big melting pot of tastes, history, culture and identity.
Cadence - is a particular series of intervals or chords that ends a phrase, section, or piece of music.
Calypso - is a style of Afro-Caribbean music which originated in Trinidad at about the start of the 20th century. The roots of the genre lay in the arrival of African slaves, who, not being allowed to speak with each other, communicated through song.
Chaabi - is a popular music of Morocco, very similar to the Algerian Rai.
Chimurenga - is a Zimbabwean popular music genre coined by and popularised by Thomas Mapfumo. Chimurenga is a Shona language word for struggle.
Chouval Bwa - features percussion, bamboo flute, accordion, and wax-paper/comb-type kazoo. The music originated among rural Martinicans.
Christian Rap - is a form of rap which uses Christian themes to express the songwriter's faith.
Coladeira - is a form of music in Cape Verde. Its element ascends to funacola which is a mixture of funanáa and coladera. Famous coladera musicians includes Antoninho Travadinha.
Contemporary Christian - is a genre of popular music which is lyrically focused on matters concerned with the Christian faith.
Country - is a blend of popular musical forms originally found in the Southern United States and the Appalachian Mountains. It has roots in traditional folk music, Celtic music, blues, gospel music, hokum, and old-time music and evolved rapidly in the 1920s.
Dance Hall - is a type of Jamaican popular music which developed in the late 1970s, with exponents such as Yellowman and Shabba Ranks. It is also known as bashment. The style is characterized by a deejay singing and toasting (or rapping) over raw and danceable music riddims.
Disco - is a genre of dance-oriented pop music that was popularized in dance clubs in the mid-1970s.
Folk - in the most basic sense of the term, is music by and for the common people.
Freestyle - is a form of electronic music that is heavily influenced by Latin American culture.
Fuji - is a popular Nigerian musical genre. It arose from the improvisation Ajisari/were music tradition, which is a kind of Muslim music performed to wake believers before dawn during the Ramadan fasting season.
Funana - is a mixed Portuguese and African music and dance from Santiago, Cape Verde. It is said that the lower part of the body movement is African, and the upper part Portuguese.
Funk - is an American musical style that originated in the mid- to late-1960s when African American musicians blended soul music, soul jazz and R&B into a rhythmic, danceable new form of music.
Gangsta rap - is a subgenre of hip-hop music which developed during the late 1980s. 'Gangsta' is a variation on the spelling of 'gangster'. After the popularity of Dr. Dre's The Chronic in 1992, gangsta rap became the most commercially lucrative subgenre of hip-hop.
Genge - is a genre of hip hop music that had its beginnings in Nairobi, Kenya. The name was coined and popularized by Kenyan rapper Nonini who started off at Calif Records. It is a style that incorporates hip hop, dancehall and traditional African music styles. It is commonly sung in Sheng(slung),Swahili or local dialects.
Gnawa - is a mixture of African, Berber, and Arabic religious songs and rhythms. It combines music and acrobatic dancing. The music is both a prayer and a celebration of life.
Gospel - is a musical genre characterized by dominant vocals (often with strong use of harmony) referencing lyrics of a religious nature, particularly Christian.
Highlife - is a musical genre that originated in Ghana and spread to Sierra Leone and Nigeria in the 1920s and other West African countries.
Hip-Hop - is a style of popular music, typically consisting of a rhythmic, rhyming vocal style called rapping (also known as emceeing) over backing beats and scratching performed on a turntable by a DJ.
House - is a style of electronic dance music that was developed by dance club DJs in Chicago in the early to mid-1980s. House music is strongly influenced by elements of the late 1970s soul- and funk-infused dance music style of disco.
Indie - is a term used to describe genres, scenes, subcultures, styles and other cultural attributes in music, characterized by their independence from major commercial record labels and their autonomous, do-it-yourself approach to recording and publishing.
Instrumental - An instrumental is, in contrast to a song, a musical composition or recording without lyrics or any other sort of vocal music; all of the music is produced by musical instruments.
Isicathamiya - is an a cappella singing style that originated from the South African Zulus.
Jazz - is an original American musical art form which originated around the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States out of a confluence of African and European music traditions.
Jit - is a style of popular Zimbabwean dance music. It features a swift rhythm played on drums and accompanied by a guitar.
Juju - is a style of Nigerian popular music, derived from traditional Yoruba percussion. It evolved in the 1920s in urban clubs across the countries. The first jùjú recordings were by Tunde King and Ojoge Daniel from the 1920s.
Kizomba - is one of the most popular genres of dance and music from Angola. Sung generally in Portuguese, it is a genre of music with a romantic flow mixed with African rhythm.
Kwaito - is a music genre that emerged in Johannesburg, South Africa in the early 1990s. It is based on house music beats, but typically at a slower tempo and containing melodic and percussive African samples which are looped, deep basslines and often vocals, generally male, shouted or chanted rather than sung or rapped.
Kwela - is a happy, often pennywhistle based, street music from southern Africa with jazzy underpinnings. It evolved from the marabi sound and brought South African music to international prominence in the 1950s.
Lingala - Soukous (also known as Soukous or Congo, and previously as African rumba) is a musical genre that originated in the two neighbouring countries of Belgian Congo and French Congo during the 1930s and early 1940s
Makossa - is a type of music which is most popular in urban areas in Cameroon. It is similar to soukous, except it includes strong bass rhythm and a prominent horn section. It originated from a type of Duala dance called kossa, with significant influences from jazz, ambasse bey, Latin music, highlife and rumba.
Malouf - a kind of music imported to Tunisia from Andalusia after the Spanish conquest in the 15th century.
Mapouka - also known under the name of Macouka, is a traditional dance from the south-east of the Ivory Coast in the area of Dabou, sometimes carried out during religious ceremonies.
Maringa - is a West African musical genre. It evolved among the Kru people of Sierra Leone and Liberia, who used Portuguese guitars brought by sailors, combining local melodies and rhythms with Trinidadian calypso.
Marrabenta - is a form of Mozambican dance music. It was developed in Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique, formerly Laurenco Marques.
Mazurka - is a Polish folk dance in triple meter with a lively tempo, containing a heavy accent on the third or second beat. It is always found to have either a triplet, trill, dotted eighth note pair, or ordinary eighth note pair before two quarter notes.
Mbalax - is the national popular dance music of Senegal. It is a fusion of popular dance musics from the West such as jazz, soul, Latin, and rock blended with sabar, the traditional drumming and dance music of Senegal.
Mbaqanga - is a style of South African music with rural Zulu roots that continues to influence musicians worldwide today. The style was originated in the early 1960s.
Mbube - is a form of South African vocal music, made famous by the South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The word mbube means "lion" in Zulu
Merengue - is a type of lively, joyful music and dance that comes from the Dominican Republic
Morna - is a genre of Cape Verdean music, related to Portuguese fado, Brazilian modinha, Argentinian tango, and Angolan lament.
Museve - is a popular Zimbabwe music genre. Artists include Simon Chimbetu and Alick Macheso
Oldies - term commonly used to describe a radio format that usually concentrates on Top 40 music from the '50s, '60s and '70s. Oldies are typically from R&B, pop and rock music genres.
Pop - is an ample and imprecise category of modern music not defined by artistic considerations but by its potential audience or prospective market.
Quadrille - is a historic dance performed by four couples in a square formation, a precursor to traditional square dancing. It is also a style of music.
R&B - is a popular music genre combining jazz, gospel, and blues influences, first performed by African American artists.
Rai - is a form of folk music, originated in Oran, Algeria from Bedouin shepherds, mixed with Spanish, French, African and Arabic musical forms, which dates back to the 1930s and has been primarily evolved by women in the culture.
Ragga - is a sub-genre of dancehall music or reggae, in which the instrumentation primarily consists of electronic music; sampling often serves a prominent role in raggamuffin music as well.
Rap - is the rhythmic singing delivery of rhymes and wordplay, one of the elements of hip hop music and culture.
Rara - is a form of festival music used for street processions, typically during Easter Week.
Reggae - is a music genre first developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s. A particular music style that originated following on the development of ska and rocksteady. Reggae is based on a rhythm style characterized by regular chops on the off-beat, known as the skank.
Reggaeton - is a form of urban music which became popular with Latin American youth during the early 1990s. Originating in Panama, Reggaeton blends Jamaican music influences of reggae and dancehall with those of Latin America, such as bomba, plena, merengue, and bachata as well as that of hip hop and Electronica.
Rock - is a form of popular music with a prominent vocal melody accompanied by guitar, drums, and bass. Many styles of rock music also use keyboard instruments such as organ, piano, synthesizers.
Rumba - is a family of music rhythms and dance styles that originated in Africa and were introduced to Cuba and the New World by African slaves.
Salegy - is a popular type of Afropop styles exported from Madagascar. This Sub-Saharan African folk music dance originated with the Malagasy language of Madagascar, Southern Africa.
Salsa - is a diverse and predominantly Spanish Caribbean genre that is popular across Latin America and among Latinos abroad.
Samba - is one of the most popular forms of music in Brazil. It is widely viewed as Brazil's national musical style.
Sega - is an evolved combination of traditional Music of Seychelles,Mauritian and Réunionnais music with European dance music like polka and quadrilles.
Seggae - is a music genre invented in the mid 1980s by the Mauritian Rasta singer, Joseph Reginald Topize who was sometimes known as Kaya, after a song title by Bob Marley. Seggae is a fusion of sega from the island country, Mauritius, and reggae.
Semba - is a traditional type of music from the Southern-African country of Angola. Semba is the predecessor to a variety of music styles originated from Africa, of which three of the most famous are Samba (from Brazil), Kizomba (Angolan style of music derived directly from Zouk music) and Kuduro (or Kuduru, energetic, fast-paced Angolan Techno music, so to speak).
Shona Music - is the music of the Shona people of Zimbabwe. There are several different types of traditional Shona music including mbira, singing, hosho and drumming. Very often, this music will be accompanied by dancing, and participation by the audience.
Ska - is a music genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and was a precursor to rocksteady and reggae. Ska combined elements of Caribbean mento and calypso with American jazz and rhythm and blues.
Slow Jam - is typically a song with an R&B-influenced melody. Slow jams are commonly R&B ballads or just downtempo songs. The term is most commonly reserved for soft-sounding songs with heavily emotional or romantic lyrical content.
Soca - is a form of dance music that originated in Trinidad from calypso. It combines the melodic lilting sound of calypso with insistent (usually electronic in recent music) percussion.
Soukous - is a musical genre that originated in the two neighbouring countries of Belgian Congo and French Congo during the 1930s and early 1940s, and which has gained popularity throughout Africa.
Soul - is a music genre that combines rhythm and blues and gospel music, originating in the United States.
Taarab - is a music genre popular in Tanzania. It is influenced by music from the cultures with a historical presence in East Africa, including music from East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Taarab rose to prominence in 1928 with the rise of the genre's first star, Siti binti Saad.
Tango - is a style of music that originated among European immigrant populations of Argentina and Uruguay. It is traditionally played by a sextet, known as the orquesta típica, which includes two violins, piano, doublebass, and two bandoneons.
Waka - is a popular Islamic-oriented Yoruba musical genre. It was pioneered and made popular by Alhaja Batile Alake from Ijebu, who took the genre into the mainstream Nigerian music by playing it at concerts and parties; also, she was the first waka singer to record an album.
Wassoulou - is a genre of West African popular music, named after the region of Wassoulou. It is performed mostly by women, using lyrics that address women's issues regarding childbearing, fertility and polygamy.
Ziglibithy - is a style of Ivorian popular music that developed in the 1970s. It was the first major genre of music from the Ivory Coast. The first major pioneer of the style was Ernesto Djedje.
Zouglou - is a dance oriented style of music from the Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) that first evolved in the 1990s. It started with students (les parents du Campus) from the University of Abidjan.
Zouk - is a style of rhythmic music originating from the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. It has its roots in kompa music from Haiti, cadence music from Dominica, as popularised by Grammacks and Exile One.
Titus Kamau is a proud contributing author and writes articles on several subjects including Entertainment. You can get free Entertainment articles at Titus Kamau Articles located at http://www.africanshome.com.
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The Representation of Women at Electronic Music Festivals
By Caro Churchill
As a female artist operating in this field of the music industry, I like to keep abreast of latest research. And a very interesting recent study shows how the land lies for women in the lucrative field of electronic music festivals. International support network and database Female Pressure consists of female DJs, Vjs, electronic musicians, sound artists, sound engineers, academics and other diverse professionals involved in the post club culture industry and vibrant scenes in most cities.
As a collective endeavour, active members of the Female Pressure network submitted statistics for festivals they were aware of. And then, collating all these findings, they produced a report and graphic representation clearly demonstrating their informal research using music faders and ven diagrams. Some countries fared better than others - the UK was not the best for gender representation with women making up ten per cent of the artists performing. And quite surprisingly perhaps, Germany did not fair much better despite the assumption that there are more female DJs and artists active especially in Berlin.
Overall, the study showed over eighty percent of festival artists were male and less than ten per cent were female - the rest were acts made of men and women. So what can be done about this? One solution put forward has been festivals representing only female artists. The aim of this would be to make a statement that there are many female artists out there that can entertain an audience. However there is an argument against this approach as this can still lead to separation and lack of integration in the male dominated rosters. There are wonderful examples of festivals and collectives that strive for a more representative and diverse offer of live and DJ acts - LEM festival in Barcelona was one of these though this sadly no longer exists.
Female Pressure have decided for this year to present an all female line up in Berlin to boldly highlight the quantity and quality of women working in the electronic music industry. Future festivals will however focus on aiming for a 50-50 male female ratio as increased female acts at electronic music festivals seems the most effective way forward. There are many interesting and most capable female live performers and DJs, one only has to use your favourite search engine to find this out. And more importantly audiences deserve a varied and reflective range of performances when they have invested in a ticket for an event.
Caro C is an independent electronic music producer and performer currently based in Manchester, UK. She is often asked about the under-representation of women in electronic music and audio engineering and contributes to research on this topic.
Caro C will perform at the first Perspectives Festival to be held in Berlin in September 2013.
6 Warning Signs That You Don't Know the First Thing About EQ
By Bjorgvin Benediktsson
Especially if you're doing any of these things below.
1. You Move the Wrong Knobs
This is beginner's mistake number 1 but it's worth pointing out. If you're only moving the frequency knob without moving the gain knob, you're not EQ'ing. This is a terrible mistake to make, because you're actually doing nothing at all!
If the gain knob is at zero, then moving the frequency knob will gain you nothing, no pun intended. And don't laugh, I've seen this a few times with people who just don't know the first thing about what they're trying to accomplish.
2. You Don't Filter
Filtering is the first step in EQ'ing. It's like cleaning up the clutter before you can make your room nice. All instruments have frequency ranges that get in the way of other instruments in a mix.
Don't fear the filter, it's the best way to eliminate low-end buildup and clutter from instruments that don't need it. Filter out the low-end of the guitars to make the bass guitar fit, and get rid of the high-end when your instrument doesn't need it.
3. You Make Aggressive Boosts
Sometimes you really do need to boost frequencies to make that track pop, but don't go overboard. A 20 dB boost is just asking for trouble. When you boost, you're manipulating the phase relationship of the frequencies, introducing a lot more gain as well as potential noise to your tracks.
Use subtractive EQ instead, it's a much cleaner alternative. By subtracting the frequencies you don't want, you're subjectively boosting the frequencies that you want. For instance, cutting the lower-mids can achieve the same result as boosting the higher-mids. Don't boost aggressively. Be conservative and cut instead.
4. Your Cuts are Wide
A simple goal to live by is:
Broad Boosts, Narrow Cuts
When cutting frequencies, use a narrow Q. Think of subtractive EQ like a scalpel. You're taking away frequencies you don't like, but you have to be careful to not cut the vitals of the instrument.
5. Your Boosts are Narrow
Same thing as before, but in reverse. Narrow boosts sound very unnatural. A 20 dB boost with a very narrow Q will pinpoint that frequency and it will stick out like a sore thumb. Use broad boosts for a more flattering sound.
6. You Boost the Same Frequencies in 5 Different Instruments
This is a surefire way to make all the elements of a mix clash together, resulting in a cluttered and unclear mix. Think of it like a division problem. You have a set amount of apples, and you need to divide them among a set amount of people. Similarly, you have a set amount of instruments that you need to divide among the frequency spectrum. The kick-drum, bass guitar, acoustic and vocal can't all have a 12 dB boost at 4 kHz.
Find different frequencies that flatter each instrument individually, and spread them around. Also, if you're boosting a frequency in a certain instrument, then it's usually a good idea to cut in an instrument that occupies the same frequency range. Divide the frequencies evenly among instrument and achieve better separation and clarity in your mixes.
EQ Should Be Your Best Friend
The equalizer is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. But you can also completely screw up your mix if you don't know how to use it. I hope you weren't making many of these mistakes that I mentioned above, I know I've done plenty of them.
Bjorgvin Benediktsson is an audio engineer and writer. He is an Alumni from the SAE Institute and has been working in the audio industry since 2006. He has written about audio and music for blogs and magazines since 2006 and has published books on audio recording and mixing. He writes about music production on his blog. Check out more of his writing right here on Audio Issues
Home Studio on a Budget
By John Rimmer
If you are are reading this then you are either planning on building a home studio or you already have started building one. Hopefully this guide will give you an idea as to some of the dos and don'ts when it comes to buying, building and using your studio and the hardware/software within it.
It is important to understand what you want to achieve before you start. Knowing what kind of music it is that you want to record before you start gives you a better understanding of what kind of space you're going to need and also the hardware and software that you may have to buy.
If you're wanting to record drums for example you will need quite a large room or outhouse. This will ideally be soundproofed (unless you have don't have any neighbours in which case it doesn't matter so much) which could cost quite a bit of money.
If you're just recording guitar and vocals or you just want to write some electronic music then no soundproofing will be required although you can buy products to improve the acoustics of your chosen room should you feel that the acoustics are not good enough. A couple of bass traps in the corner of your room can significantly reduce the natural reverb of the room and make it easier to record things. Bass traps will also make mixing and mastering a more enjoyable experience because you will be able to hear your speakers with more clarity.
Once you have chosen what room to use for your home studio and have established what kind of music that you will be writing and recording it's time to think about what kind of software and hardware you will need to purchase.
If you are using a microphone/ keyboard or guitar you will need to buy a recording interface. This is the piece of hardware that bridges the gap between you and your instrument and the software on the computer. You can buy many different recording interfaces each with different strengths and weaknesses so it's good to understand exactly what you want before you make this purchase. For example if you are only going to be recording vocals and guitar then you won't need a recording interface with 4-8 inputs because the max you will ever be using will be 2. Another important parameter to look at when choosing a recording interface is exactly what kind of latency it has. Some recording interfaces have firewire which offers virtually zero latency. Usually the more money you spend the better latency you're going to get.
Once you have bought your recording interface it's time to think about what software you're going to use. There are many products on the market with a wide variety of prices. Most musicians either use Cubase, Pro Tools, Logic, Fruity loops or Ableton Live. They all offer different things and some are better for certain styles of music than others. Fruity loops and ableton are better suited to electronic based music production and Cubase and Protools are better suited to live music recording.
Thankyou for reading this article, I hope you found it helpful. If you did find it useful I would ask you to take a small amount of your time to glance at our website. You can find more tutorials and downloads there.
What We Need to Understand With Rock Music Today
By Martin Swan
Music keeps changing as time goes by. The rock music trends are borne to maintain a cultural influence depending on their era of formation. Many of the artists are becoming theatrical with many of the bands putting up a great show. Some of the groups have been around for many decades and so they stand to influence the current music trends. However, their influence on the current music depends on how well they continue providing great shows to their audiences, considering treads come and go.
The current music trends
Today, shock rock is proving to be the "big thing", making many of the rock groups to become exceedingly popular. Therefore, many of the audiences are becoming tired of gimmicks that are observed with some musicians. In fact, some of these musicians are losing the attention that is otherwise required for surviving in a competitive industry. Some of the buyers or listeners are overlooking the trends to find their own voices.
It has become easier to find the desired voice, because we live in a community that detects the right voice from the least appealing. Lyricists who offer the best in terms of song writing are also identified readily. Therefore, the future of rock music is likely to gravitate towards the humble beginning where people begin to appreciate the skill of writing good music. It will be more that presenting an image to the point of expressing one's talents and creativity. The society is asking for better, bigger and extreme talents. This offers a good way of ensuring the latest trends of rock music are being introduced.
The difference with the music
The current trends in rock music are not necessarily different from the performances in other eras, although many of the followers may choose to differ. When you consider the most recent trends of rock music, you stand to find a presentation that you enjoy. Many rock bands are sincere in their presentation while managing their theatrical. You will discover many more bands that choose to maintain their low profile; therefore, they get to be heard when they hit the top charts.
Some of the rock groups can be compared with the "Beetles" who captured the attention of the audience in the 70s. The latest rock music trends are seeking to capture the attention of the audience by offering great performances. Therefore, the recent trends stand to impact significantly the future generations.