African Polyphony and Polyrhythm: Musical Structure and by Simha Arom

By Simha Arom

During this distinctive research Simha Arom takes a brand new and unique method of the knowledge of the complicated and complex styles of polyphony and polyrhythm that characterise African tune. contemplating particularly the harp, sanza, xylophone and percussion track of valuable Africa, Simha Arom develops a rigorous process for the research of the track and for the recording and interpreting of the various strands of polyphony and polyrhythm. via a scientific breakdown of the numerous layers of it appears improvised rhythm he finds the fundamental constitution which underlies this wealthy and complicated track. encouraged additionally through linguistic strategies, Professor Arom regards the tune a great deal as a grammatical process.

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As a means of communication and an indispensable intermediary between men and 8 BOOK I T H E M U S I C OF THE C E N T R A L A F R I C A N REPUBLIC the supernatural forces surrounding them, music serves to make contact with the shades of the ancestors, the spirits and the djinns. That is why Central Africans do not consider music to be an aesthetic phenomenon, even though they are quite capable of expressing their tastes and making very precise value judgements about both the music itself and the quality of the performance.

One can therefore argue that, generally speaking, apprenticeship in music among T H E G E N E R A L F E A T U R E S OF T R A D I T I O N A L MUSIC 15 the peoples of Central Africa occurs through simple observation and imitation. Which means that those who acquire these techniques are all, to some extent, self-taught. The only criteria for musical appreciation applicable here derive from, on the one hand, the apprentice musician's sense of self-criticism, and on the other hand, the aesthetic judgements furnished by society.

Generally the melodic line is descending, with conjunct movement; this movement is 'terraced', that is to say the melody rests on successive levels. Finally, improvisation, which I have described as the driving force behind melodic and rhythmic variations, plays an important part in every group. But there is no such thing as free improvisation, that is, improvisation that does not refer back to some precise and identifiable piece of music. It is always subordinate to the musical structure in which it appears, in respect of mode, metre and rhythm.

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