Biblioteca de la Guitarra y Cuerda Pulsada

Biblioteca de la Guitarra y Cuerda Pulsada

The african guitar

African guitar music, although commercially available on 78 r.p.m. records since the 1920s (particularly in West Africa), was long neglected by Western ethnomusicologists, who often categorized it as “Europeanized,” or “hybrid.” Since many field researchers limited themselves to those forms of African music they called “traditional,” most of our early documentation of African guitar styles is found on commercial records, not on the tapes of field studies by academics. One great exception was Hugh Tracey (1903-1977), who, virtually from the beginning of his recording career, paid attention to the innovative musical styles of Africa. We owe to Tracey comprehensive audio records of Katanga guitar or Copperbelt guitar music of the 1950s (see some of his LPs, for example Guitars 1 and 2, Kaleidophone Label, KMA 6 and 7, Washington D.C.1972), as well as music of eastern and southeastern Africa. Some outstanding composers and performers of guitar music whose names are now famous in scholarly circles were discovered by Hugh Tracey, including Mwenda Jean Bosco from Lubumbashi, Zaïre, in 1951. The first scientific accounts of 20th century developments in African music include J. H. Kwabena Nketia’s article, “Modern Trends In Ghana Music” (Nketia 1957) and several early articles by David Rycroft (1956, 1958, 1959 etc.), who published his first scientific study of an African guitar style, his lucid analysis of Mwenda Jean Bosco’s music, in 1961 and 1962. The first survey of the new traditions in Africa appeared in 1965 as a special supplement, which I wrote for the German magazine Afrika Heute(Kubik 1965;...

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