MUSIC, RELIGION AND RITUAL IN AFRICA

nb: to be expanded and adapted to suit Semester sytsem

COURSE OBJECTIVE

This course explores the various ways in which religious experience and ritual performance are integrated with music in
selective societies and cultures of Africa. Through lectures, discussions, class assignments, video, live demonstrations
and special field projects the course will examine music, religion, and ritual in Africa as interrelated cultural phenomena,
which are also distinctive in their own ways. Contexts and processes of healing, initiation, devotion, enthronement and
liturgy in traditional and in selective neo-Christian and Islamic practices will be studied in relation to the centrality of music,
which will be understood as both multidimensional and multisensory, comprising sound types (timbres), dance, mask,
poetry, folk drama, and symbolism. Cases studies of rites of passage, healing and church practices will be drawn from
among the Tumbuka, Shona, Ewe, Hausa, Shona, and others. Class discussions will address also the creative and innovative
employment of music, as well as its implications for social life beyond the immediate religious contexts. Students will be
encouraged to develop comparative but critical perspectives by applying class examples and concepts to specific
non-African contexts or examples in the field. Students will be required to use Internet resources (links will be provided) to
supplement main instructional materials, as needed. Class demonstrations will include low-key rituals to aid the understanding
of basic concepts and processes.


TIME TABLE

WEEK 1
GENERAL INTRODUCTION
--A time and a place for everything: world perspective on music, religion and ritual
--overview of social, cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity in Africa
Readings & Related Exercises /Assignments for week 1 (e-handout)

WEEk 2
MUSIC IN AFRICAN SOCIETIES--Basic Features of African Music--unity in diversity
(i) contexts and uses of music; (ii) distribution of musical instruments
(iii)Musical instruments and sounds as a symbolic system; influence of language
Readings: Coursepack: selections from the introductory materials--tba
Related Exercises /Assignments for week 2 (e-handout)

WEEK 3
MUSIC, CONTD
(i) form, techniques, and devices in music; (ii) regional variations; popular (contemporary) music
(iii) Aesthetics? the "ideal" in African music
Readings: “African Aesthetics?”; online sources (tba)
Related Exercises /Assignments for week 3 (e-handout) >>>CONTD

WEEK 4
A SENSE OF BEAUTY?
(i) holistic nature of African music; (i) understanding the nature of African arts
(iii) magic, belief, secret/initiation societies and the visual arts
Readings: “African Aesthetics?”; online sources (tba)
Related Exercises /Assignments for week 4 (e-handout); videos

WEEK 5
MUSIC IN RITES OFY PASSAGE, HEALING, ETC
(i) the funerary rites; (ii) kingship rites; (iii) coming-of-age rites (classic paradigm--Van Gennep, etc.)
(iv) panel discussion of symbol, ritual and the arts in local fraternities
Readings: essays by Euba, Kubik VIDEOS: “Kings in Cities;” personal collection
Related Exercises /Assignments for week 5 (e-handout)

WEEK 6
MUSIC IN TRADITIONAL HEALING AND CULT RITUALS, I
(i) ideas of personhood, ontology of diseases, death, and therapeutic systems
(ii) specific healing rituals and music (Tumbuka-Chewa, Shona, Ewe, Hausa, etc)
Readings: essays by Friedson; Malamusi VIDEOS
Related Exercises /Assignments for week 6 (e-handout)

WEEK 7
MUSIC IN TRADITIONAL HEALING AND CULT RITUALS, II
(i) specific healing rituals and music, contd (Tumbuka-Chewa, Shona, Hausa, (ii) Ewe Yewe
Readings: essays by Friedson, Thram, Avorgbedor
Related Exercises /Assignments for week 7 (e-handout)

WEEK 8
SOUND AND ACTION AS SYMBOLS
(i) Ewe Exorcism and healing rites
(ii) extended discussion of instruments and sounds as symbols (includes Islamic traditions in Africa)
Readings: “Dee Hoo!” (Avorgbedor); and essay on Senegalese Sufism(Roberts)
Related Exercises /Assignments for week 8 (e-handout)

WEEK 9
MUSIC IN CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA, I
(i) nature of "independent" (also "spiritual") churches
(ii) the impact of popular culture, national/ethnic/African identities
(iii) women's role and significance of music
Readings: coursepack: "Ritual of Culture and Ethnic Identities” VIDEOS: personal collection
Related Exercises /Assignments for week 9 (e-handout)

WEEK 10
MUSIC IN CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA, II, CONTD
(i) continuity of tradition and innovation in independent churches
(ii) African resonances in African-American church ritual
Readings: coursepack: “Ritual Performance in African-American Pentecostal Church”
videos: “Some Zulu Zionists;” personal field excerpts
Related Exercises /Assignments for week 10 (e-handout)


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