The final piece of the whole course is Yiri, by the group Koko, who are from Burkino Faso.
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Although this is a bit of a generalisation, there are two distinct styles of African music: the sound of north African music is heavily influenced by the Middle East, whereas music south of the Sahara desert has a totally different sound. It is this sound that is explored in this piece by the percussion and vocal group, Koko.
The following are typical features of sub-Saharan African music, and are all present our Set Work:
All of this music is passed down from generation to generation using an oral tradition (as is the case with Rag Desh). Much of the music is associated with different tribes, and would be used to mark different occasions during the year, or during people's lives - anything from rainy season to weddings.
Yiri uses the following instruments:
Untuned percussion: djembe - shaped like a wine goblet, with a skin on top; donno - hourglass 'talking drum'; dundun - double headed drum with a skin on either end.
This is a very common question on the listening paper, but is relatively easy. The djembe and donno are both played with the hand, whereas the dundun is played using curved sticks. The
The image on this webpage shows djembes and a donno, and also has some good background information about African drumming in general.
Tuned percussion: the balaphon is the only tuned instrument that appears in this piece. It is the central African version of a xylophone. They are made in different sizes so they can play in different octaves.
It is played using two sticks. It is a melodic instrument, and not often used to play chords. As the instrument can't create a long sustained sounds, you perform long notes by playing a roll. You can hear this really clearly at the start.
Voices: in this piece, all the voices are male. There is one lead singer which calls, and all the other voices respond in unison. The response is usually an exact copy of the call.
Sub-Saharan African music is tonal, and this piece is built on a series of diatonic melodies. All of the balaphon music and vocal lines are diatonic. They move mainly by step. There is no harmony at all in this piece.
The music has a strong, regular and fast pulse, after the slow introduction. The drums have interlocking and syncopated rhythmic patterns, which are all repeated ostinato patterns. Once the drum patterns start, they don't break at all until the final section of the piece in the last few bars.
There are two different aspects to the texture:
The drum texture is polyrhythmic - lots of different interlocking rhythms over the top of each other.
The melodic lines are a mixture of monophonic and heterophonic textures. (Heterophonic texture is where two or more parts perform slightly different versions of the same melody at the same time - this applies to the balafon parts, and not the singing.)
There is no set structure as such, in terms of an order of letters, but this diagram below gives a good indication of the varying lengths of sections and a brief description of the music within them.
If the image is too small to read, then try clicking here to download it as a Word document - you could print it out then and use it in your revision.
To practice and improve your understanding of the piece, you should try choosing a section of the music and, using DR G SMITH, try to make at least one comment for each of the significant musical ideas in the piece.
As with all the pieces, there is a three-way process to learning everything you need to know about the piece:
This checklist document should help you with this process.