Introduction
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Introduction The most trenchant external influences on African music in the twentieth century were not European, as might have been expected in the face of colonial structures; instead they were African-American. These have included nearly every aspect of the New World music from the Caribbean and from South and North America. In the 19305 it was rhumba and some jazz-derived forms of ballroom dance music. Then came a wider range of Latin American and Caribbean styles—merengue, cha-cha-cha, pachanga, mambo, calypso, and so forth. From North America came swing jazz, then rock 'n' roll, twist, and soul, later superseded by Jamaican reggae. The distribution patterns of all these influences varied widely from area to area. While calypso from Trinidad and from West Indian emigrants operating in Britain had a strong impact on the Guinea Coast, Cuban son (in Africa generally called rumba) determined the creative output of generations of popular musicians in Congo/Zaire. South Africa absorbed most of the North American cultural influences, especially after 1945, including bebop. Today traces of all the successive waves of African-American music transmitted by the mass media can be found even in local traditions remote from the cities, in reinterpreted but still recognizable forms. Sometimes only a name survives, such as "blues" without any particular associations to blues music, but in a vague, general manner referring to styles of couple dances in bars that would once have been called 5/ow irag in North America, or, more recently, lambada in Brazil. Latin American and other musical terms survive in the lexicon of musicians living in isolated rural areas of Africa. In the mid-1960s I was surprised that local musicians among the Vute of central Cameroon, playing a very swinging music on their timbrh raffia-made lamellophones (cf. recordings by 155 Omaru Sanda, B 8892-8896, Phonogrammarchiv Vienna, 1964/Kubik), classified their dance patterns as marenge (clearly derived from "merengue"), chacha, and contre-banjo (pronounced in the French way). The music had nothing to do with Latin American patterns; it was based on duple-interlocking tone-rows, and the musicians themselves qualified timhrh music as "traditional," In Yoruba-speaking southwestern Nigeria in the early 19605, highlife musicians regularly absorbed scattered stylistic traits from jazz, even cool jazz, and integrated them into their expressive idiom. Roy Chicago's music could certainly not be described as a jazz derivative, and yet there are blue notes in the trumpet and saxophone parts, and "cool" jazz intonation and phrases—for example, in the alto saxophone solo in "Sere fun mi baby" (cf. Roy Chicago and His Abalahi Rhythm Dandies, Afro-Rhythm Parade vol. 5, Philips 420 on PE, recorded 13 July 1961). Significantly, the saxophonist's blue-note phrases blend perfectly with the basically pentatonic flavor of the melodic outline of this Yoruba-language song, contrasting with the highlife-style chord progressions (example 12). In minute detail the melodic line of the saxophone solo unfurls the west central Sudanic integrative scale I described earlier (see figs. 15and 17). This is not only an interesting testimony to its retention in an urban style; it also testifies to how this harmonics-based scale is reinterpreted by the underlying guitar chords. The G7 guitar chord is totally neglected by the melodic line of the saxophone. While the blue note Bl> is clearly related to the C tonality of the first line, its transpositional counterpart, the E\> relates to the F fundamental, also neglecting a G7 chord. While jazz influence is obvious, the saxophone line is just as much afresh attempt to accommodate the memory of a west central Sudanic tonality with guitar chords that emphasize the added sixth, seventh, and ninth. According to Nigerian musician and musicologist Bayo Martins (personal communication through Wolfgang Bender, Mainz), the saxophonist is probably Roy Chicago himself. In an attempt to give western Nigerian highlife a Yoruba authenticity, there is also a section in this song where the Western instruments fall silent and drummer Aramide Apolo (nicknamed Dr. Apolo) exercises speech patterns on the dundun talking drum. Several African musical traditions were thoroughly modified over the last half of the twentieth century through the absorption of selected traits from one African-American style or another. These include elements characteristic of the blues, although they reached Africa through filters, i.e., in various urban, popuReturn to Africa 156 Example 12 Blend of western Sudanic and blues scalar patterns through jazz influence in Nigerian highlife: the start of the saxophone solo in...