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Archive for November, 2017

Rhythm culture in South America

Much of South America’s music has been heavily influenced by the strong beats popular in music from African tribes. This music was brought over when the African slaves arrived on American shores. However, there was also a strong Hispanic presence, which also had huge influences resulting in the music created becoming rather diverse and somewhat unique.

Afro-Brazilian Music

Maracatu is a style of music played primarily during Carnival time but also only in certain regions such as Recife. The music is there as a backdrop to the parades that are taking place and evolved from being played at ceremonies such as the tribal kings in regions of Africa. The music is played on large drums, shakers and also huge bells to create the sounds. During the performances, females play a predominant role and even dress as men for parts of it. As a whole, the image created is harking back to their African ancestors and as such all participants perform wearing blackface makeup.

Afro-Cuban music

Like Brazil, Cuba’s music is wide and varied. Similarly, a large part of the process is in the performance and dance that surrounds it. A large part of Cuban music is made up of their African heritage. In fact, a lot of African music is considered to be sacred and follow a number of traditions. Much of this is evident in the chants and dances that are still used to this day. Clave is a common rhythm pattern often used in this type of music. In fact, it is a basis for many other Cuban styles such as rumba, mambo, and salsa. It’s a five-stroke pattern that is the main heart of most Afro-Cuban music. Believed to have originated in sub-Saharan Africa, it has the same function here as it did there, to keep the music together.

Haiti too has seen a lot of influence from this type of music. A lot of the Haitian Voodoo drumming takes strong influences from this style, harking back to the emotive and complex relationships that music had on African tribes prior to their upheaval.

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West African Drum Circles

Sub-Saharan African music is often recognizable from its strong beats and intense rhythms. So strong are these rhythms that they have spread widely across the globe, particularly to the Americas. Notable examples are the samba and other Afro-Brazilian rhythms and music such as maracatu and coco. Other areas of music that have seen a strong influence from West Africa are reggae, soul and jazz.

The drum has long been a popular instrument throughout the entire continent of Africa. Whilst there isn’t actually a word for rhythm in many African languages, the principle is an ingrained one. In fact, their belief is that rhythm is part of life and, as such, has an interdependent relationship with people. Beats represent complicated moments or emotions, and, as such, these compositions help to strengthen resolve. This is buried so deep in the culture that even the children grow up with games revolving around the creation of rhythms.

Commonly found in West African music are cross-beats and fast-paced upbeat sounds. The drum is considered to beat as a sign of life, and is synonymous with a heartbeat in the culture. Most are simple affairs; perhaps a skin stretched over a frame, and created using a number of different items. It should be noted that different areas of Africa create different drums with varying sounds to them.

The drum circles of West Africa are in fact rather complex, and contain a wide variety of key patterns that denote different expressions, and influence moves that the dancers will make.

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