Since early colonial times, South African music has evolved from the blending of local ideas and forms with those imported from elsewhere, giving it the unmistakable flavour of the us.
In the Dutch colonial era, from the 17th century on, indigenous South African people and slaves imported in the east adapted Western musical instruments and ideas.
The Khoi-Khoi, for instance, developed the ramkie, an acoustic guitar with 3 to 4 strings, and tried on the extender to blend Khoi and Western folk songs. In addition they used the mamokhorong, an indigenous single-string violin, in their own personal music-making along with the dances from the colonial centre, Cape Town.
Western music was played by slave orchestras, and travelling musicians of mixed-blood stock moved around the colony entertaining at dances as well as other functions, a convention that continued in the era of British domination after 1806.
Coloured bands of musicians began parading over the streets of Cape Town in early 1820s, a convention that’s given added impetus through the travelling minstrel shows from the 1880s and has continued to the present day with all the minstrel carnival locked in Cape Town every Year.
Missionaries and choirs
The penetration of missionaries in the interior on the succeeding centuries also had a profound relation to South African musical styles. From the late 1800s, early African composers like John Knox Bokwe began composing hymns that drew on traditional Xhosa harmonic patterns.
In 1897, Enoch Sontonga, then a teacher, composed the hymn Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa), which was later adopted from the liberation movement and, after 1994, became area of the national anthem of your democratic Africa.
The influence of both missionary music and American spirituals spurred a gospel movement remains strong. Working with the traditions of indigenous faiths such as the Zion Christian Church, it has exponents whose styles range from the more traditional for the pop-infused sounds of present-day gospel singers such as Rebecca Malope and Lundi Tyamara. Gospel, rolling around in its various forms, is one kind of South Africa’s best-selling genres, with artists regularly achieving of gold and platinum sales.
The missionary emphasis on choirs, together with the traditional South African vocal music and also other elements, also gave rise to a mode of your cappella singing that blend the perception of Western hymns with indigenous harmonies. This tradition has endured from the oldest traditional music in South Africa, isicathamiya, ones Ladysmith Black Mambazo are the best-known exponents.
African instruments such as the mouth bow and, later, the mbira from Zimbabwe, and drums and xylophones from Mozambique, did start to locate a devote the traditions of South African music. Still later, Western instruments such as the concertina and guitar were integrated into indigenous musical styles, contributing, as an illustration, for the Zulu mode of maskhandi music.
The creation of a black urban proletariat as well as the movement of many black workers for the mines in the 1800s meant differing regional traditional folk music met and began circulate into each other. Western instruments were utilized to adapt rural songs, which experts claim started to influence the roll-out of new hybrid modes of music-making (along with dances) in the developing urban centres.
Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds in
1941. From left, Solomon Linda (soprano),
Gilbert Madondo (alto), Boy Sibiya (tenor),
Samuel Mlangeni (bass) and Owen
Skakane (bass). The Evening Birds’ 1939
hit Mbube has become reworked innumerable
times, especially as Pete Seeger’s hit
Wimoweh and the international classic
The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
(Image: The International Library of
African Music at Rhodes University and
Inside the mid-1800s travelling minstrel shows did start to visit Africa. In the beginning these minstrels were white performers in “black-face” but with the 1860s genuine black American minstrel troupes like Orpheus McAdoo and the Virginia Jubilee Singers did start to tour Nigeria influencing locals to create similar choirs.
This minstrel tradition, merged with other forms, brought about the creation of isicathamiya, which had its first international hit in 1939 with Mbube by Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds. This remarkable song has been reworked innumerable times, especially as Pete Seeger’s hit Wimoweh and the international classic The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
Minstrelsy also gave form as well as a new impetus towards the Cape coloured carnival singers and troupes, who begun to use instruments including the banjo in varieties of music like the jaunty goema.
In the early 20th century, new kinds of hybrid music started to arise on the list of increasingly urbanised black population of mining centres including Johannesburg.
Marabi, a keyboard kind of music played on pedal organs, became popular in the ghettos of the city. This new sound, basically intended to draw people in to the shebeens (illegal taverns), had deep roots from the African tradition and smacked of influences of yankee ragtime as well as the blues. It used quick and easy chords repeated in vamp patterns that can embark on for hours – the music of jazz musician Abdullah Ibrahim still shows traces of this form.
Associated with illegal liquor dens and vices including prostitution, early marabi musicians formed some sort of underground musical culture and just weren’t recorded. Both white authorities plus much more sophisticated black listeners frowned upon it, almost as much ast jazz was denigrated like a temptation to vice in their early years in the United States.
Though the lilting melodies and loping rhythms of marabi found their way into the sounds in the bigger dance bands including the Jazz Maniacs, the Merry Blackbirds and also the Jazz Revellers. These bands achieved considerable fame in the 1930s and 1940s, winning huge audiences among both white and black South Africans. Over the succeeding decades, the marabi-swing style progressed into early mbaqanga, essentially the most distinctive way of South African jazz, which experts claim helped build the more populist township forms of the 1980s.
Together with the introduction of broadcast radio for black listeners and also the development of an indigenous recording industry, marabi gained immense popularity from the 1930s onward. Soon there have been schools teaching the different jazzy styles available, one of them pianist-composer Wilfred Sentso’s influential School of recent Piano Syncopation, which taught “classical music, jazz syncopation, saxophone and trumpet blowing”, and also “crooning, tap dancing and ragging”.
A truly indigenous South African musical language was being born
One of many offshoots with the marabi sound was kwela, which brought South African music to international prominence inside the 1950s.
Named for that Zulu word meaning “climb on” – and a mention of the police vans, called “kwela-kwela” in township slang – kwela music was adopted by street performers in the shanty towns.
The instrument of kwela was the pennywhistle, which has been both cheap and and is used either solo or perhaps an ensemble.
Its popularity was perhaps because flutes of kinds had long been traditional instruments on the list of peoples of northern Africa; the pennywhistle thus enabled the swift adaptation of folk tunes in to the new marabi-inflected idiom.
Lemmy Mabaso, one of the famous pennywhistle stars, began performing inside the streets on the ages of 10. Talent scouts were sent from the recording industry to lure pennywhistlers into the studio and still have them record their tunes with full band backing. Stars such as Spokes Mashiyane had hits with kwela pennywhistle tunes.
In 1959, film Tom Hark by Elias Lerole and his awesome Zig-Zag Flutes was obviously a hit all over the world, being adopted and reworked by British bandleader Ted Heath.
Miriam Makeba in 1955.
(Image © Jürgen Schadebergmarabi)
Propelled simply from the hunger of the vast urban proletariat to keep things interesting, various strains of South African music were pouring themselves into an exciting melting pot of ideas and forms by the core of the 1950s.
A vital area on this growth was the township of Sophiatown, in Johannesburg, that have grown since the 1930s right into a seething cauldron from the new urban lifestyles of black city dwellers. The suburb attracted one of the most adventurous performers from the new musical forms and have become a hotbed in the rapidly developing black musical culture.
The previous strains of marabi and kwela had did start to coalesce into what’s broadly generally known as mbaqanga, a kind of African-inflected jazz. Singing stars for example Miriam Makeba, Dolly Rathebe and Letta Mbulu gained fanatical followings.
The cyclic structure of marabi met with traditional dance styles such as the Zulu indlamu, which has a heavy dollop of yank big band swing thrown at the top. The indlamu tendency crystallised into the “African stomp” style, giving a notably African rhythmic impulse towards the music and so that it is quite irresistible for the new audiences.
During this time how the new black culture designed a sassy type of its own, partly over the influence of yankee movies and the glamour coupled to the flamboyant gangsters have been a fundamental portion of Sophiatown.
Eventually the white Nationalist government brought this vital era for an end, forcibly taking out the inhabitants of Sophiatown to townships for example Soweto, outside Johannesburg, in 1960. Sophiatown was razed and the white suburb of Triomf internal its place.
(Image © Jürgen Schadebergmbaqanga)
The new jazz
The cross-cultural influences that were brewed in Sophiatown continued to inspire musicians of all races in the years to come. In the same way American ragtime and swing had inspired earlier jazz forms, so the new post-war American design of bebop had started to filter by way of South African musicians.
In 1955, one of the most progressive jazz-lovers of Sophiatown had formed the Sophiatown Modern Jazz Club, propagating the sounds of bop innovators like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.
The jazz club sponsored gatherings including Jazz in the Odin, in a local cinema, and from such meetings grew South Africa’s first bebop band, the highly important and influential Jazz Epistles, whose earliest membership was a roll-call of musicians going to shape South African jazz following that: Dollar Brand (who changed his name to Abdullah Ibrahim after his conversion to Islam), Kippie Moeketsi, Jonas Gwangwa and Hugh Masekela included in this.
In 1960, the Jazz Epistles recorded their first and only album, Jazz Epistle Verse One. Simultaneously, composers such as Todd Matshikiza (who composed the successful musical King Kong) and Gideon Nxumalo (African Fantasia) were tinkering with mixtures of old forms and new directions.
King Kong, a jazz-opera telling the story of black South African boxer Ezekiel Dlamini, has been a hit, and toured overseas. Leading South African musicians like Miriam Makeba, the Manhattan Brothers and Kippie Moeketsi starred in the show; many found the freedom away from country an irresistible lure, and remained in exile there.
Because the apartheid regime increased its power, political repression in South Africa began in earnest. From the wake from the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 along with the subsequent State of Emergency and mass arrests, bannings and trials of activists challenging apartheid laws, more and more musicians think it is necessary to leave the country. For a lot of decades, probably the most adventurous strains in South African music were pursued outside of the country.
Jazz in exile
Cover with the 1965 Dollar Brand (later
Abdullah Ibrahim) album Anatomy of an
South African Village.
Abdullah Ibrahim is undoubtedly the towering estimate South African music, a man who created its traditions with a deeply felt comprehension of American jazz, from the orchestral richness of Duke Ellington’s compositions for big band on the groundbreaking innovations of Ornette Coleman along with the 1960s avant-garde.
On his first trip overseas, to Switzerland in 1962, the pianist-composer met and impressed Duke Ellington himself, who sponsored his first recordings.
Later, in The big apple, Ibrahim absorbed the influence with the early 1960s avant-garde, that has been then pioneering new open-ended forms of spontaneous composition.
Within the next 4 decades, Ibrahim developed his or her own distinctive style, slipping back in Africa in the mid-1970s to create a series of seminal recordings together with the cream of Cape jazz players (Basil Coetzee and Robbie Jansen, as an example), which included his masterpiece, “Mannenberg”, one of the best South African compositions ever.
Ibrahim’s extensive oeuvre has continued to flourish the South African musical palette, because he spent some time working as a solo performer (in mesmerising unbroken concerts that echo the unstoppable impetus from the old marabi performers), with trios and quartets, with larger orchestral units, and, since his triumphant go back to Nigeria during the early 1990s, with symphony orchestras. He has also founded an excellent for South African musicians in Cape Town.
Ibrahim’s old collaborator, the trumpeter Hugh Masekela, also had a glittering career outside Africa. Initially inspired in their musical growth by Trevor Huddlestonnewjazz – an english priest in the townships who financed the musician’s first trumpet – Masekela played his way from the vibrant Sophiatown scene also to Britain with King Kong, to locate himself in The big apple in the early 1960s. He’d hits in america with all the poppy jazz tunes “Up, Up and Away” and “Grazin’ within the Grass”.
A renewed fascination with his African roots led him to collaborate with West and Central African musicians, and finally to reconnect with South African players while he start a mobile studio in Botswana, approximately the South African border, inside the 1980s. Here he reabsorbed and reused mbaqanga modes, a method he’s continued to work with since his return to Africa during the early 1990s.
Masekela has continued to utilize young artists like Thandiswa Mazwai, Zubz and Jah Seed, fusing Afro-pop sounds with jazz tunes. He recently continued an excursion of Canada and also the Usa in support of the live recording Hugh Masekela: Live in the Market Theatre.
Also following your continuing development of South African jazz into new realms, though in the uk, was the group nowhere Notes. Having created a good name for themselves in South Africa during the early 1960s, this dymanic, adventurous group, led by pianist Chris MacGregor, left for Britain in the late 1960s and stayed there. The opposite folks this guitar rock band, Dudu Pukwana, Mongezi Feza, Johnny Dyani and Louis Moholo, contributed richly to the sound of this ever-evolving ensemble, and also recorded significant solo material.
The Blue Notes, and then MacGregor bands such as Brotherhood of Breath, along with the Pukwana and Moholo bands, became an important part of the European jazz avant-garde, carrying the African influence far beyond these shores. Sadly, all the original people in the Blue Notes, except Louis Moholo, died in exile.
Jazz in your own home
Philip Tabane in 1964.
(Image: Jabula Musicjazzhome)
One key South African jazz performers, Philip Tabane, a guitarist who put together the deepest, oldest polyrhythmic traditions with all the freest jazz-based improvisation, kept the musical flame burning in South Africa.
Tabane, inspired by his links to African spirituality, kept a shifting group of musicians playing in various combinations under the name of Malombo, which means ancestral spirits within the Venda language.
From your early 1960s until today, Tabane has produced several of South Africa’s most fascinating and adventurous sounds, though a relatively conservative and commercially orientated local recording industry means he has been sadly under-recorded. Internationally acclaimed, Tabane has toured extensively in Europe and also the U . s ., performing on the Apollo Theatre in Nyc along with the Montreaux Jazz Festival, and others.
For a while following democracy, Tabane aids shape and inspire the musical careers of countless musicians in Nigeria. Tabane in addition has done collaborations with house wedding band Revolution.
Playing through repression
Jazz remained took part Nigeria in the many years of severe repression, with groups like the African Jazz Pioneers and singers including Abigail Kubheka and Thandi Klaasen keeping alive the mbaqanga-jazz tradition which in fact had enlivened Sophiatown. Cape jazzers such as Basil Coetzee, Robbie Jansen and Hotep Idris Galeta kept developing the infectious Cape style.
The 1980s saw the look of Afro-jazz bands including Sakhile and Bayete, marrying the sounds of yankee fusion and ancient African patterns, to considerable commercial success.
Others for example the band Tananas took the thought of instrumental music in the direction of the became referred to as “world music”, setting up a sound that crosses borders which has a mixture of African, South American along with other styles.
Recently, important new jazz musicians such as Paul Hanmer, Moses Molelekwa (who died tragically in 2001), Zim Ngqawana, Selaelo Selota and Vusi Mahlasela have got the compositional and improvisatory elements of jazz in new directions, bringing them into connection with today’s contemporary sounds, along with employing the oldest modes, to deliver the country – and appreciative overseas audiences – with a living, growing South African jazz tradition.
Lately, a mix of contemporary and jazz music has gotten Nigeria by storm with young women musicians like Simphiwe Dana, Zamajobe Sithole and Siphokazi Maraqana adding some spice on the way people look at jazz.
Pop, rock & crossover
In the 1960s onward, a lot more white rockers and pop groups appeared to attract white audiences in the segregated Africa.
Four Jacks plus a Jill
Being among the most successful bands from Nigeria is Four Jacks as well as a Jill, who’d their first number one hit with “Timothy” in 1967. Yearly year, that they a global hit on their own hands with “Master Jack”, which reached number eight in the united states and # 1 in Canada, Malaysia, Nz and Australia. Through the 1970s they toured Britain, the united states, Australia and other places, including Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
After facing persecution by conservative elements and several line-up changes, the main pair in the centre in the band, Clive Harding and Glenys Lynne, eventually disbanded the group in 1983 when they became reborn Christians.
By comparison, 1966 saw the birth of Freedom’s Children, a band specialized in the level of “acid rock” pioneered in the US by bands including the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.
Despite being known as hippies who threatened ab muscles progress of civilisation Freedom’s Children travelled the united states, building up an excellent group of followers one of many more progressive youth, and recorded two albums, “Astra” and “Galactic Vibes”, that proved inspirational to later “alternative” rockers.
Rabbitt fever hits the Durban city hall in
the mid-1970s. South Africa’s first boy
band inspired Beatles-like hysteria among
young white women. “Panties flew onto
activity is like confetti,” the article reads,
“and at least one girl ‘lost’ her dress.”
From the mid-1970s, the “boy band” hit Nigeria available as Rabbitt, four teenagers who kicked off their career using a cover of your Jethro Tull song and, within a singularly daring move, posed naked on his or her second album cover (“A Croak plus a Grunt within the Night”).
Imaginatively managed by producer-impresario Patric van Blerk, Rabbitt brought the teenager pop market of Nigeria to some pitch of Beatles-like hysteria before disbanding in 1977. Member Trevor Rabinpoprock continued to a successful career in the usa, doing its job a session musician in top rock groups along with producing movie soundtracks.
A general change in mood
Because 1970s drew to some close, however, the climate started to change along with the echoes of Britain’s angry working-class punk movement did start to reach Nigeria.
Springs, a poorer white area on the outskirts of Johannesburg, turned out to be the breeding ground of an new generation of rockers who have been disillusioned about South Africa’s repressive white regime.
The air Rats provided social satire, while Corporal Punishment released “Darkie”, a sarcastic picture of white angst (“Darkie’s gonna get you”). Bands such as the Asylum Kids and Dog Detachment also carried the flag of youthful rebellion, and gained significant followings.
From the mid-1980s an alternative solution rock culture received, and showed considerable diversity. James Phillips, a founding part of Corporal Punishment, was a central figure. As Bernoldus Niemand, he produced an album of satirical Afrikaans songs like “Hou My Vas, Korporaal” (Hold Me Tight, Corporal), a satire around the army, thereby influencing a full alternative Afrikaans movement of Afrikaners protesting against repressive social mores.
Bands for example the Gereformeerde Blues Band and singers like Koos Kombuis were later to realize a passionate following.
Concurrently, Phillips produced superbly bluesy rock together with his band the Cherry-Faced Lurchers. An attractive underground rock scene, featuring bands such as the Softees, the Aeroplanes, Bright Blue along with the Dynamics, kept rebellious young white South Africans “jolling” through the 1980s.
At the same time, a crossover was beginning to happen between white and black musicians.
Johnny Clegg, a social anthropologist who learnt much about Zulu music and dance that he formed his very own group, Juluka, with Sipho Mchunu, led the charge. Juluka’s power to mix traditional Zulu music with white pop and folk what food was in itself a challenge for the racial boundaries the apartheid regime experimented with erect between blacks and whites.
With normally a more pop-driven style, bands such as eVoid, Via Afrika and Mango Groove followed the crossover trail blazed by Clegg (hailed overseas as “the white Zulu”), whose later band, Savuka, continued to reproduce his earlier success.
The white pop/rock tradition continues up to the present in Nigeria, growing ever bigger and much more diverse. Bands like the Springbok Nude Girls, likely the finest South African rock band with the 1990s, spearheaded a drive into harder, guitar-driven sounds, while groups such as the acclaimed Fetish began to try out the brand new electronic palette offered by computers and sampling.
Crossover band Freshlyground.
Crossover music remains alive and well inside the new millennium, together with the ultimate example most likely the band Freshlyground, who burst to the scene in 2002. Freshlyground add violin and flute on the familiar band instrumentation of bass, drums, keys and guitar, and often add in the mbira, a traditional African “thumb piano”, and sax. Their song “Doo Bee Doo”, from your 2005 album Nomvula, has grown to be something of an happy anthem for a new Africa untroubled by its difficult past. The album itself sold 150 000 copies.
Today another highlight is an exilerating pop-rock-electronic scene across South Africa, with bands including Prime Circle Body of the finest South African rock bands, who achieved sales more than 25 000 units because of their debut album “Hello Crazy World” – and also Wonderboom, the Parlotones, the Narrow, Bell Jar and many more generating a strong rock and alternative music scene that is often overlooked and ignored by mainstream media.
Bubblegum, kwaito and alternative Afrikaners
While white rockers expressed their angst to largely white audiences through the 1980s, the black townships were locked in thrall with what came to be called “bubblegum” – bright, light dance pop affected by American disco up to through the heritage of mbaqanga.
Forebears of this style were groups for example the Soul Brothers, who had massive hits making use of their soulful pop, while artists for example Brenda Fassie, Chicco Twala and Yvonne Chaka Chaka drew huge audiences for their make of township dance music.
Brenda Fassie’s 1991 album included the
hit song “Black President”, specialized in
Nelson Mandela, who was simply released
from jail exactly the year before. In 1994
Mandela did, indeed, become South
Africa’s first black president.
Up until her death in 2004, Brenda Fassie was probably the most controversial as well as the best-known determine township pop, having had a massive hit in 1985 with “Weekend Special” before starting a decade of high living that will have position the Rolling Stones to shame.
Ever outspoken, she admitted to drug addiction, marriage problems plus much more, yet her keen following never quite deserted her, plus 1997 she developed a significant comeback together with her album “Memeza” (meaning “Shout”), which spawned the enormous hit “Vulindlela” (“Clear the path” or “Make way”). Regardless of the controversy that frequently gave the impression to dog her career, Fassie remained a central decide the creation of township pop.
Inside the 1990s, a Download South African Music Mp3 of township music, kwaito, grabbed the interest as well as the hearts of South Africa’s black youth. Just like township “bubblegum” had drawn on American disco, so kwaito put an African spin about the international dance music from the 1990s, a genre loosely called house music. Young South African music-makers gave it a homemade twist but with echoes of hip-hop and rap.
Performers like Mdu, Mandoza, Arthur, Chiskop and Zola, as an example – rose to prominence. Groups like Bongo Maffin, Abashante, Boom Shaka and TKZee developed huge followings. Key recordings such as TKZee’s “Halloween”, Mdu’s “Mazola”, Chiskop’s “Claimer”, Boom Shaka’s “It’s About Time” and Trompies’s “Madibuseng” swept the charts and dominated youth-orientated radio stations including the wildly successful Yfm.
South African hip-hop
During the early 2000s, a revolution in South African music was taking place – a hip-hop music culture was occurring with youth stations like Yfm within the fore-front in promoting this genre. Raw talents like Tuks, Zubz, Hip-Hop Pantsula, Pro-Kid, Zulu Boy and Proverb used the task to combine the thumping beats people hip-hop mixed with Afro-pop music. The rhyming is completed mostly in indigenous languages such as isiZulu, Setswana and Sesotho.
South African hip-hop has left an indelible mark for the music scene this also genre is maintaining growth with artists for example Tuks scooping up music awards and recurring to offer copies in countless amounts.
New Afrikaans music
Recent years since democracy have observed the re-emergence of alternative Afrikaans music, with young Afrikaners reclaiming and taking pride inside a culture free of the guilt of apartheid – the “Karen Zoid generation”. Often eccentric and quirky, this music varies from the rough and raw sound of Fokofpolisiekar (which means “f**k off police car”) towards the classic rock of Arno Carstens along with the gentler music Chris Chameleon.