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The African Imagination in Music$
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Kofi Agawu

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190263201

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190263201.001.0001

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Music and/in Society

Music and/in Society

(p.27) 1 Music and/in Society
The African Imagination in Music

Kofi Agawu

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the place of music in African society and the ways in which that relationship has been conceptualized by scholars. Beginning with discourse, the chapter observes the absence of a word for music in many indigenous languages, and then outlines alternative emphases in the patterns of African talk about music. It then identifies the three main occasions for music making as work, ritual and recreation. Although music-making typically marks the various stages in a life cycle, emphasis is placed here on music in funeral traditions. A tripartite scheme for categorizing all known genres of African music as traditional music, popular music, art music is introduced and critiqued. The chapter finishes with reflections on the relationship between sound structure and social structure, and the importance of circles in capturing that relationship.

Keywords:   society, life cycle, music in funeral traditions, traditional music, popular music, art music, musical structure and social structure

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