Commenced in January 2007
Paper Count: 30576
The Evolution of Traditional Rhythms in Redefining the West African Country of Guinea
Abstract:The traditional rhythms of the West African country of Guinea have played a centuries-long role in defining the different people groups that make up the country. Throughout their history, before and since colonization by the French, the different ethnicities have used their traditional music as a distinct part of their historical identities. That is starting to change. Guinea is an impoverished nation created in the early twentieth-century with little regard for the history and cultures of the people who were included. The traditional rhythms of the different people groups and their heritages have remained. Fifteen individual traditional Guinean rhythms were chosen to represent popular rhythms from the four geographical regions of Guinea. Each rhythm was traced back to its native village and video recorded on-site by as many different local performing groups as could be located. The cyclical patterns rhythms were transcribed via a circular, spatial design and then copied into a box notation system where sounds happening at the same time could be studied. These rhythms were analyzed for their consistency-overperformance in a Fundamental Rhythm Pattern analysis so rhythms could be compared for how they are changing through different performances. The analysis showed that the traditional rhythm performances of the Middle and Forest Guinea regions were the most cohesive and showed the least evidence of change between performances. The role of music in each of these regions is both limited and focused. The Coastal and High Guinea regions have much in common historically through their ethnic history and modern-day trade connections, but the rhythm performances seem to be less consistent and demonstrate more changes in how they are performed today. In each of these regions the role and usage of music is much freer and wide-spread. In spite of advances being made as a country, different ethnic groups still frequently only respond and participate (dance and sing) to the music of their native ethnicity. There is some evidence that this self-imposed musical barrier is beginning to change and evolve, partially through the development of better roads, more access to electricity and technology, the nationwide Ebola health crisis, and a growing self-identification as a unified nation.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1109812Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 1111
 W. Anku, “Circles and time: A theory of structural organization of rhythm in African music,” Music Theory Online: The Online Journal of the Society for Music Theory, vol. 6, no. 1, January, 2000.
 V. K. Agawu, “The rhythmic structure of West African music,” The Journal of Musicology, vol. 5, no. 3, Summer, 1987, pp. 400-418.
 R. M. Stone, Music in West Africa. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
 M. S. Camara, T. O’Toole, J. E. Baker, Historical Dictionary of Guinea (5th ed). Lanham: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2014, p. 74.
 R. Hallett, Africa Since 1875. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1974, p. 379.
 G. Counsel, “Popular music and politics in Sékou Touré’s Guinea,” Australasian Review of African Studies, vol. 26, no. 1, 2004, pp. 26-42.
 J. Haworth, “Creation of a visual rhythm catalog for the traditional rhythms of Guinea” unpublished.
 J. T. Koetting, “Analysis and notation of West African drum ensemble music,” Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 115-146, 1970.
 S. Arom, African Polyphony & Polyrhythm: Musical Structure and Methodology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
 G. Kubik, Theory of African Music, Vol. 2. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2010.
 R. Hallett, Africa to 1875: A Modern History, Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1970, pp. 146-150, 177-180.
 D. Kobrenski, Djoliba Crossing: Journeys into West African Music and Culture, New Hampshire: Artemisia Books, 201, pp. 52-55.
 R. Knight, “Mandinka drumming,” African Arts, vol. 7, no. 4, Summer, 1974, pp. 24-35.