Sound cultures of Africa (CLOSED) 
Junzo Kawada (Institute for the Study of Japanese Folk Culture, Kanagawa University, Japan)
Start time:
16 May, 2014 at 8:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

We present five latest results of our project, rejecting the concept of "music", to grasp African fertile sound activities, including oral traditions, dances and rituals. They are: drum language, "griot" singers, wandering singers, ritual sound performances, religio-political roles of lamellophone.

Long Abstract

We present the latest results of our research project, carried out since 1995 under the title of "Sound Cultures of Africa". By using the term "sound cultures" we reject the concept of "music", used in Europe since XVth century, in order to grasp the vast and fertile reality of African sound activities, including oral traditions, dances and rituals. In this sense, we also deny the term as well as the concept of "ethno-musicology". We have worked in close association with the intangible cultural heritage program of UNESCO.

In the present panel, several aspects of African sound cultures, studied by five members of our team through their long-term field researches, will be examined:

1) drum language relating the dynastic history of ancient Mossi kingdoms (Burkina Faso), on which the researches for over 40 years have been accomplished by KAWADA, including the apprenticeship with native performers, detailed sound-spectrographic analysis and many experiments;

2) vicissitude of social and political functions of traditional "griot" singers since the independence of African states (Guinea and Ivory Coast);

3) multifaceted activities of wandering singers Lalibalocc (Ethiopia), together with their recent changes, minutely seized by means of audio-visual analysis;

4) social factors found in transformations of ritual sound performances among the Gogo society (Tanzania); and

5) religious and political roles of the lamellophone mbira, associated with possession cults (Zimbabwe).

Accepted papers: