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Simha Arom: "The Forest for the Trees": The Metric and Rhythmic Foundations of African Music

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Simha Arom is Senior Research Scientist Emeritus, CNRS, France.

What
  • Seminar
When Apr 09, 2008
from 04:30 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Strathcona Music Building, 555 Sherbrooke St. West, C-209
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ABSTRACT:
The music of Central Africa is well known for the complexity of its temporal organization. In 1965, from the Mbenzele Pygmies in the Central African Republic, I collected what appeared to be a short, unremarkable monodic piece that regularly alternated sung and whistled sounds, both performed by a single musician.

Upon analyzing this piece much later, I realized that it implemented all the metrical and rhythmic principles – from the simplest to the most complex – upon which the music of this region is based. It was as if the Mbenzele had distilled a uniquely African signature out of a vast corpus, thus concentrating the quintessence of its rhythmic genius in a single composition.

The lecture will present musical examples, musical transcriptions and a brief video.

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