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WORLD AND FOLK MUSIC NEWS

New Album from Srdjan Beronja: Sounds Of The East: Master Musicians, Hissing Cobras and a Dawn Chorus

New Album from Srdjan Beronja: Sounds Of The East: Master Musicians, Hissing Cobras and a Dawn Chorus

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New Scorsese Movie ‘Silence’ features music by master Japanese drummer, Joji Hirota

New Scorsese Movie ‘Silence’ features music by master Japanese drummer, Joji Hirota

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Hanitra’s inspiring new album ‘Lasa’ – from the heart of Madagascar

Hanitra’s inspiring new album ‘Lasa’ – from the heart of Madagascar

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Songs from the traditional treasure chest of Serbia and The Balkans

Songs from the traditional treasure chest of Serbia and The Balkans

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Focus on: Music of Southern Africa, Gospel

Gospel music in Southern Africa came about through a fascinating synthesis of religious music brought to Africa by missionaries, and traditional African music styles.

There are many communities in South Africa, reflected in the fact that there are twelve official languages in South Africa even today. Although different from community to community, traditional South African music was characterised by a call-and-response (solo voice with group answering) approach, with simple drums or percussion, clapping and so on, as accompaniment. Musically the structure was quite different from the four part approach to hymns imported by the missionaries from the 17th century on.

Historically, one might have missionaries setting up churches, with attendant schools, almost side by side with traditional communities with their own homestead pattern of traditional dwellings, and their own hierarchy from the Chief down. As time went on the musical styles of the two combined in different areas into a wonderful colourful tapestry.

At first these styles were very choral. The four part harmony of hymn structure became combined with the call-and-response pattern. Then with the introduction at the turn of the century of Western instruments such as the guitar, accordion and concertina, different African communities adapted their music accordingly, and this was also reflected in gospel music. By the 1950s and 60s, as township music developed with its guitar, bass and drums format, and additions such as the pennywhistle and African brass styles, so popular gospel music developed.

In the 1970s and 80s South African pop started to become incorporated into South African gospel, and today popular gospel artists reflect the form of popular South African music, with increasing western influence but retaining a unique African flavour.

The majority of South Africans today are Christians. Apart from the recognised international denominations, there are thousands of colourful African Independent Churches. Every Sunday, in every town and village, different services are being held, and they are accompanied by music… a simple choir, a band with solo singers, some drums… a myriad of styles and languages. Congregants can be seen under trees, on hills, from Johannesburg to Cape Town. And today, you will hear many influences… from American gospel to contemporary pop, as well as the original African roots.

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