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Origins of Popular Music: Discussion Essay

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World music includes the traditional music or oftentimes called as folk music or roots music of any culture that are made and played by the home-grown musicians. More often than not, those musicians are the ones who are blatantly exposed to their culture and know the origin of their culture. Apparently, world music was now changed into a broader sense by giving life to the indigenous music worldwide and made known to the people the brief description of the home- grown music they have got. Thus, world music is also coined as the other non- western music which includes the non- western famous music and non- western contemporary music (Hale, 1998).

The demand for music was somehow viewed as a significant factor in the lives of people that was actually not a subject to the academic reflection. Such naturalization of music can be traced through the spaces and performance. The organization of listening in the correct room, along with the separation of music from medieval ritual, the development of specialist musicianship, commercial publishing and the invention of synoptic scores enshrined the individual performer or performance as an unmediated natural and neutral channel for the work of the composer (Hale, 1998).


Examples of Musical Syncretism

Syncretism consists of the attempt to bring together incongruent or contradictory beliefs, often while melding practices of a variety of schools of contemplation. The term may refer try to fuse and analogise a lot of originally distinct traditions, most especially in the theology and mythology of religion, and therefore stress an underlying agreement which is allowing an inclusive approach to other faiths.

The syncretism in the Indian the traditions of Indian is more on the religious side of the music. The teachings of Hindu especially those from Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar as personified in the socio-spiritual group of Ananda Marga draw together the contrasting branches of yoga for inner improvement; the social motivation for ancient theory and some changes, the theory of human and non-human happiness and spontaneous insights into discipline with the objective to ascend the wellbeing in the whole world. In addition to, the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica syncretises the elements found in the Bible enthusiastically (Smith, 1999).

Juju Music

The music of juju is a style of Nigerian kind of famous music; it came from a conventional Yoruba percussion. It developed in the 1920s in town clubs from corner to corner of the countries. After the World War II, the inclusion of the electric instruments began, and revolutionary musicians such as I. K. Dairo, King Sunny Adé and Ebenezer Obey made the genre be the most famous in Nigeria, collaborating with fresh influences like funk, reggae and Afrobeat and making new subgenres as well. The music of juju, unlike apala, sakara, and Fuji, was not made by Muslim Yoruba, and is as a result it became worldly.

Juju music actually is performed by the artists from the southwestern region of Nigeria. This is where the Yoruba are the most several ethnic group. In presentation or the performance, the members of the audience particularly shower juju musicians with paper money and this tradition is commonly known as the spraying.

Performances by a Griot

A Griot or Jeli is a West African poet, singer of praises, and a wandering musician, who is recognised as a repository of oral tradition and Griots are also called bards. According to a writer, the griot has to be skillful in knowing many traditional songs expertly without any mistakes. He must also have the ability of playing by ear and arbitrate chance incidents and the passing the scene. The intelligence of a griot can be overwhelming and his familiarity with the local history should be profound. Yet griots are most commonly known as singers for praises, they can also use their skill in the vocal expertise for gossip, spoofs, or commentaries about politics. The griots form an endogamous social group, which means that most of them marry only the same clan of griots and they do not marry non- griot people which do not as a rule, execute the same functions that the certified griot perform. Also, the griots were known to have firm relations to spiritual, social, or political powers as music is associated as such (Hoffman, 2001).

Some of the functions that a griot performs are in the Malian film Guimba which is the Tyrant directed by Cheick Oumar Sissoko, the griot is doing a storytelling and it is done through the village griot which serves to give comic relief. Another example in which a griot performs is what has said earlier, the griot as being skillful in the vocal powers. In the belatedly novels of the Ivorian writer Ahmadou Kourouma, Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote, took the form of a praise-song by the Sora who is the griot, and pointed to the president-Dictator of the made up République du Golfe. The griot directly made the president- dictator as the subject of the praise- song. In the praise- song of Paule Marshall for the Widow, the protagonist Avatara could have some of the characteristics of the griot, especially in her promise to passing on to her grandchildren the oral story of her aunt Ibos at the Landing, by which the Africans brought to the U.S. sea islands to be slaves at the appointed time turned back and walked again to Africa over the sea.

Musical Metaphor of “Building a House”

The music grows more and more abstract and the explanations of the musicians, moralists and literary scholars grow less and less important. The extremely bad level of music testifies to the total absence of anything to replace the contemporary exegeses. Logically, the distinction between the descriptive elements of building a house into the musical metaphor is very profound. Some writers said that the interpretation primarily depends on the perspective of the person involved. In building a house, it comes to a broader sense a feature of being active and energetic (N’Dour, 2004).

Samba Music

One of the most famous forms of music in Brazil is Samba and it is commonly known as the national music of the Brazilian people. The Samba terminology actually came from the Angolan word semba which is a type of ritual music, but there are arguments. According to the sambista Nei Lopes and some studies about the Samba, the origin of the term samba has always been related to the word semba which is actually a Congo-Angolan style of dance characterised by the bellybutton-bump in which the gentleman differentiate the lady, and the gestures which are revised by the afro- Brazilian dances (McGowan et al., 1998).

The development of the modern Samba was from an earlier Brazilian musical style called Choro. The dance and music of samba can have many forms; from the full of life call comeback of samba de enredo, the music of Carnaval to samba-cancao or song samba, which is a more relaxed guitar and rhythm variant.

The Samba is oftentimes characterised by a syncopated 2/4 rhythm with a discrete beat and a main beat, it is usually played by a bass drum which is called the surdo or tan-tan. Another essential thing in the samba is the cavaquinho which is also called the cavaco, a small, four-stringed instrument of the guitar family and brought by the Portuguese. The connection between the synchronisation section and the rhythm section is the cavaquinho; the description of it usually distinguishes the real samba from the softer variations such as Bossa Nova, even though some of the recordings in samba do not use the cavaquinho. The tambourine drum or the pandeiro is the latest percussive instrument and this is the one whose beat is the most absolute. An acoustic guitar or in their culture, the viola, is frequently in attendance and its occurrence in samba made known the 7-string variation, because of the highly elegant counterpoint lines that is used in the genre of the lower pitched strings. Most commonly, the lyrics of samba range from love songs, soccer themes, politics and the different variations of subjects (Behague, 2006).


The traditional African music is representative, and is said to be expressive and with the validation of psychic energy. In traditional Africa, music is a very important part of life and is connected with the worldwide view of the society in which it is formed. The African music has social, ritual, and functions in the ceremony as well as some purposes for a spare time entertainment. The traditional art forms which include music actually came from mythology, legends, and folklore, and are commonly linked with gods, ancestors and heroes. The activities inclined with music are ritualized and anticipated to connect the real world with the imaginary one. Dancing is often a significant part of the ritual and spiritual aspect of music (Charry, 2000).

The percussion instruments are the most famous instrument in African societies and it is the frequent tool that the musicians use. Rattles, friction sticks, bells, clappers, and cymbals are used too. The sansa and xylophones are used also by a lot of groups of musicians. Different types of drums are also used. A variety of wind instruments are made out of tusks, horns, conch shells, wood or gourds in a very intricate way. The styles of vocal music vary from area to area are widespread. And this is due to a certain extent of the different languages spoken in different areas. Almost all African languages are tonal languages which can be depicted in the way of their singing (Charry, 2000).

Actually, the contemporary music of African people does not have a written tradition and that is why it is very hard to compose the music using the Western staff. The pitches and delicate differences in the manner of intonation do not give meaning easily. The Western scale models that are relevant most closely to African music are tetratonic, pentatonic, hexatonic or heptatonic arrangements and the melodic patterns are affected by intonation patterns of the language.

The ethnic music unites a community to a preferred component of its past, but it does so it will give a clearer interpretations to the present. Accordingly, the ethnic music should be understood as varying, not stationary and indeed innovates. More of the music of the African Diaspora was developed and urbanized during the period of slavery. The slaves then did not have the chance to learn and use musical instruments, so the vocal expertise was made known to a lot of the music enthusiasts and use this as their sole instrument in creating music. The African people made use of low chants and work songs while they were inventing more kind of music and having innovations on the genres that the musicians discover. The conclusion of this great sublimation of musical energy in to work vocally can be viewed in genres as not similar like what is in the Gospel Music and Hip-Hop. Regardless of the efforts to wipe away African cultural elements in the traditions of other countries, the melody also continued to exist. The metaphors of infection, such as the “infectious rhythm” were used to portray the increase of African culture by almost all the cultures. The music of the African Diaspora makes numerous use of ostinato, an ornamentation or phrase which is with a great determination that is repeated at the same pitch (Charry, 2000).


Behague, Gerard. “Rap, Reggae, Rock, or Samba: The Local and the Global in Brazilian Popular Music ).” Latin American Music Review 27, no. 1 (2006).

Charry, Eric S. (2000). Mande Music: Traditional and Modern Music of the Maninka and Mandinka of Western Africa. Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology. Includes audio CD. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hale, Thomas A. (1998). Griots and Griottes: Masters of Words and Music. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Hoffman, Barbara G. (2001). Griots at War: Conflict, Conciliation and Caste in Mande. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

McGowan, Chris and Pessanha, Ricardo. The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova and the Popular Music of Brazil. 2nd edition. Temple University Press. 1998.

N’Dour, Y. “Foreword” to Nickson, Chris (2004). The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to World Music. ISBN 0-399-53032-0.

Smith, P. (1999). A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá’í Faith. Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications, pp. 276-277 & p.291.

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