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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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The Melodic Imagination

The Melodic Imagination

Chapter:
(p.195) 5 The Melodic Imagination
Source:
The African Imagination in Music
Author(s):

Kofi Agawu

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190263201.003.0006

This chapter disputes the frequently made claim that melody is not one of the core dimensions of African music. It does so by first showing how language serves as a gateway to song. It then assembles a number of melodies to display the workings of the African melodic imagination. Some are brief chants while others are more elaborate melodies. They include an Aka Pygmy melody, a Northern Ewe crying song, an Akpafu lament, and a song by Fela. Attention is also given to instrumental performances on the one-stringed fiddle and on the xylophone. The chapter highlights various pitch and linguistic resources and the role of archetypes in guiding melodic expression.

Keywords:   melody, Aka Pygmy, Northern Ewe, Akpafu, Fela, melodic archetypes

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