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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 Formal Imagination

The Formal Imagination

(p.240) 6 The Formal Imagination
The African Imagination in Music

Kofi Agawu

Oxford University Press

This chapter explains the scope of the formal imagination in African music. Departing from the premise that in these oral cultures form is conceptualized in relation to its communicative efficacy, the chapter first offers an array of vignettes of form from a large variety of repertoires. Then it describes five main principles: call and response, variation, additive form, a narrative impulse,, and moment form. Each principle is animated by repetition, but the degree of repetition varies. Examples of the five principles are chosen from different parts of the continent. The chapter concludes that many African forms are designed to be partial and fragmentary, and thus to engender completion by participants.

Keywords:   call and response, variation, additive form, narration, repetition, moment form, fragment

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