The music of Africa is as vast and varied as the continent's many regions, nations, and ethnic
groups. The African continent comprises approximately 20 percent of the world's land mass and
has a population of roughly 1 billion. African music is as diverse as its cultures and peoples and has
flowered in many indigenous forms as well as been shaped by foreign influences.
The world’s going gaga over Afrobeats
From Afro hip-hop to Afro jazz and Afro soul, plus Zambian deep house, Malawian Afropop, Afro
dancehall from Nigeria, an entire playlist dedicated to South African reggae artist and Rastafarian
Lucky Dube, with songs in Zulu and Afrikaans and more, the sheer range is electrifying.
Although there are many different varieties of music in Africa, there are a number of common
elements to the music, especially within regions. The concept of music in Africa bears a difference
from other regions and cultures. The roles of music and dance are tightly woven together in
Africa, and music intersects with every aspect of life, expresses life through the medium of sound.
By helping mark the important moments in life, music helps to underscore the divine and eternal
value of human life
African music also helps to connect people together in a variety of ways, strengthening the fabric
of the community, which in turn reinforces people's commitment to support each other and the
community, toward mutual health and prosperity. Another crucial role of music in Africa is as a
mode of communication. Talking drums, signal drums, songs, and the sagas of the historian griots
each communicate different types of important information.
As African society has changed in response to the forces of colonization, independence, and
globalization, the role of music changed as well, adapting to the new situation in which the
people of Africa find themselves. Though there have been changes in some of the forms of the
music, including the infusion of instruments, musical styles, and genres from outside the African
continent, music remains very important in Africa today. Also, as Africans traveled from Africa to
other parts of the world, both as a result of African slave trade and later migrations, the music
and dance forms of the African diaspora have influenced a number of international musical
styles and genres, including many Caribbean and Latin American music genres like rumba and
salsa, as well as providing the foundation of musical tradition behind African American music.
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