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Africa Music and Dance


By "African music" is usually meant the music traditions in sub-Saharan Africa. So you exclude North Africa, whose music is closer to the Arab world than the rest of Africa. Traditional music in Africa exhibits a diversity, which must be understood in the light of the great differences in climate and landscape types, social forms and languages. In diversity, however, there are common features, which is why the study of African music is a study of at once unity and variety.

Africa Music and Dance

According to, most African languages ​​lack a general term for music as distinct from dance. The term used often denotes a complex of song, instrumental music and dance. The traditional musicis, like dance, almost always socially entrenched and linked to the activities that are most basic in culture. Singing, instrumental music and dance rarely occur independently, but are included as an essential part of important events in the individual or group's life - birth, initiation, marriage, burial, hunting, sowing and harvesting etc. Music is also used in daily work, in legal and political context and for recreation, as it can be anything from completely informal to intense musical drama. It is performed by spontaneous groups or is socially organized through cult groups and secret or open societies. Music at rituals, ceremonies, or parties is usually associated with dance into a device, especially when music and dance are means to connect with ancestors and spirit worlds. The dancer often appears with mask, and the dance can be individualistic or, like the music, express community community and shared experience. However, the emphasis on group participation does not exclude solo performances or professionalism and specialization.

Ensemble music is the dominant form in which singing, clapping and rhythmic pounding are mixed with different types of instrumental music. The flora of instruments is extremely rich, from various percussion instruments such as drums, wear drums and xylophones to all kinds of wind and string instruments. Significantly, these are often played with percussive attack, such as the tump piano (sansa, mbira, likembe, limba), an instrument unique to Africa, consisting of a series of metal tongues attached over a bridge by a board or a sound box. The most striking feature of African music is the rhythmic element. The rhythmic structure is often extremely complex and reflects a highly developed ability to perform several rhythmic patterns simultaneously, so-called poly-rhythmic; this is typical especially for West Africa. Another prominent feature is polyphony, polyphony. This can take the form of parallel therses, quarters and quarters, heterophony, burgundy or usually overlapping antiphony (alternation) between singers and chorus-to-call ratio. The melody is simple and often consists of short repetitive motifs, which form the background to improvisation, poetic recitation and rhythmic variation. The African music cultures have many different tones, but so much emphasis is not always placed on precise interval intonations. Floating intervals are common e.g. in the vocal music. The African music cultures have many different tones, but so much emphasis is not always placed on precise interval intonations. Floating intervals are common e.g. in the vocal music. The African music cultures have many different tones, but so much emphasis is not always placed on precise interval intonations. Floating intervals are common e.g. in the vocal music.

New forms of popular dance music have emerged in modern Africa's urban environments, mixing African style elements with influences from West Indian, African American and Latin American music. South Africa has been dominated by various forms of Afro jazz such as kwela and jive, while Congolese popular forms of music such as rhumba, krikri and soukous are spread throughout East and Central Africa. In West Africa, highlife, a form of music originating from Ghana and Nigeria, dominates, and, farther west, African west coast jazz and maningo.

The leading trend in art music has been the use of traditional material within the framework of symphonic, opera and church musical forms, which can be exemplified by the work of four composers: Ephraim Amu and JHK Nketia from Ghana and Fela Sowande and Akin Euba from Nigeria. In the field of dance, the new music environments have given rise to a folk-music based scenic ballet, represented by, for example, Senegal Ballet and African Dance Company of Ghana.


A common characteristic of the dance in sub-Saharan Africa is that separate and partially independent centers of the body move simultaneously. This bodily polycentric is similar to the musical polyrhythmic. The centers are highlighted optically or sound by, for example, rattles, colors or jewelry. Due to the use of football bells and the stomp, the movements of the dancers become an organic part of the musical ensemble, and in many places it is precisely with the dancers that one finds the basic pulse of the polyrhythmic network.

African Dance

The regional division of the continent's dance style coincides largely with the musical and is based on the dance's use of space, its relation to the music and its choice of movement centers.

In the Sahara area, the dance is dominated by longitudinal or vertical jumps performed with a straight body. There is very little movement in the room and the dances are solo. In the Sudan area, group dances are dominant, and they appear both as ranks and as circles. The movement starts from the legs again, but is now directed downwards like the stomp in the ground. In the West African coastal country, the group dances form a great soloistic virtuosity. The movements are still centered in the legs, but are acrobatic and characterized by the refined professional language that belongs to the area. Both in the Sudan style and in West Africa, the body posture is characterized by a slight forward bend in the pelvis, which releases the shoulders, chest or upper body. In Central Africa you find the true polycentric, where the different centers of movement are completely equal and completely liberated from each other. The East African region cannot be uniquely characterized. It contains features from many of the other regions as well as the Arab cultural area and is relatively inhomogeneous. Southern Africa dances in formations, and powerful kicks and punches dominate, among other things. at the Zulus.

Across Africa there are dances that require disguise and masking. For example, the suits and masks can represent an allegorical figure, spirit or deity. This can be seen, for example, at Yoruba in Nigeria and at Makonde in Tanzania.

There is often a smooth transition from dance to more sporty movement patterns such as wrestling and various types of throws, jumps and lifts.

Countries in Africa
  1. Algeria
  2. Angola
  3. Benin
  4. Botswana
  5. Burkina Faso
  6. Burundi
  7. Cameroon
  8. Cabo Verde
  9. Central African Republic
  10. Chad
  11. Comoros
  12. Democratic Republic of the Congo
  13. Djibouti
  14. Egypt
  15. Equatorial Guinea
  16. Eritrea
  17. Eswatini
  18. Ethiopia
  19. Gabon
  20. Gambia
  21. Ghana
  22. Guinea
  23. Guinea-Bissau
  24. Ivory Coast
  25. Kenya
  26. Lesotho
  27. Liberia
  28. Libya
  29. Madagascar
  30. Malawi
  31. Mali
  32. Mauritania
  33. Mauritius
  34. Morocco
  35. Mozambique
  36. Namibia
  37. Niger
  38. Nigeria
  39. Republic of the Congo
  40. Rwanda
  41. Sao Tome and Principe
  42. Senegal
  43. Seychelles
  44. Sierra Leone
  45. Somalia
  46. South Africa
  47. South Sudan
  48. Sudan
  49. Tanzania
  50. Togo
  51. Tunisia
  52. Uganda
  53. Western Sahara
  54. Zambia
  55. Zimbabwe

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