Traditional Music, Rhythms and Dance

Music is considered as a universal language. Anyone understands it from small children to older folks. Its purpose is far beyond leisure and entertainment. It is also a form of self-expression for most of us. The power of music can never be underestimated for the huge difference it has made to our lives.

There are a lot of different types of music, so many you’ll reach old age by the time you finish enumerating them. But keep in mind, not all can like the same type of music. There has to be a distinction to set each type of music as unique compared to others which are called genres. Without genres, music would be disorganized – there will be no uniqueness and authenticity.

Throughout the ages, music made by tribes along with their dances and rituals has become a norm for centuries. Chanting and dancing to the gods asking for rain or abundance in harvest. Even some tribes sang songs, along with their dances, to start a certain ritual such as human sacrifice or a rite of passage.

Tribal music is not only used for rituals, it is also used for entertainment. Geography also plays a factor in the type of tribal music and the purpose for which it serves. Here is a list of some of tribal songs per continent. Try to know more about what they are. You might learn a thing or two right away.

Tribal Dance Music

African

Tribal music in the Africa is historically rich and of unique diversity. Different regions possess their own form of endemic sounds. African tribe dance music is often characterized by one thing. Its main musical instrument is none other the human voice.

The true purpose of African traditional music is functional in nature. This means it is used to accompany some significant traditions associated with African culture. The length of time that these songs are usually performed can last for hours. Audiences are also involved in these dances and performances.

Some of these examples are the Denadon which is performed by the Malinke tribe in Northeastern Guinea. It is played as a welcome song before the Mendiani Festival. Next is the Djole which is from the Temine, a tribe from the areas of Sierra Leone and the border regions of Guinea. It’s very famous and it is played in gatherings and celebrations. It is used to signify great harvest, the end of Ramadan or a wedding.

Another one is the Fankani from the Malinke tribe of the Wassolon region which is located between Mali and Guinea. It is played at most of popular celebrations such as welcoming visitors to the village. The Kuku is a popular rhythm from the Manian tribe from the Forest Guinea and Ivory Coast. It’s a dance for women mostly celebrated during full moon celebrations. When the women came back home from fishing, they take their tools and dance.

Sunun is also another popular song played at festivities. Though there are many different songs for this, it’s usually used for weddings. It is played all over Western Africa and as a result, different versions are made.

Asian

Traditional music in Asia spanned thousands of years in developing. Being the cradle of civilization, its music has existed before the west was forming its own culture. In fact, it has influenced the creation of its music. Traditional music is very powerful its incorporated with the modern sound. Almost all of Asian modern music is traditional in its roots.

Traditional Asian dance music is a practice that has been passed on from generation to generation. It has been used through dance to ward off demons, to give good luck, to ask for bountiful harvests, to ask for protection and many others.

Here are some examples of ethnic songs and how they are being used

Yayue, meaning “elegant music” is a form of Chinese classical music. It is being performed in imperial courts. Its basic foundations were established in the Western Zhou, China. It was used during the Han Dynasty as ritual music for folk dances. During this period, the tribes people believe that by making ritual sacrifices to the gods, they have the power to persuade them to have another bountiful harvest.

Gagaku is the one of the oldest forms of Japanese music which originated in Kyoto as a court song. It is used in the repertoire; kuniburi no utamai is a mix of native Shinto music along with folk songs and dances to interpret the life of Japan’s aristocratic.

Arabic

The music of the Arabs has been present for over thousands of years and hasn’t stopped growing since then. Two factors are distinguishable in Arabic music – improvisation and melodic predominance. The music is based on the maqam system.

Arab traditional music consists of a variety of religious chants, poetic songs and dance music for weddings, gatherings and other social events. One such example is the Dal Ouna.

In ancient times Arabic music and dances combine grace and finesse. One of the dance forms in the Arab world would be belly dancing or Raqs Baladi as they call it. The dance is mainly torso driven and shows emphasis on hip articulations. The techniques applied to this type of dance during ancient times are still in use today.

Native American

Traditional music in the early United States made by Native Americans are based on both vocalizations and percussion. Also rattling sounds were incorporated with the use of turtle shells. Every song begins with a slow and a steady beat, then it goes faster and faster. The singer speaks vocal chants from a slow mumble to a higher shouting volume and more erratic movements.

The songs are meant to be a sacred and to be used only for rituals and ceremonial purposes. Native American song consists of both “public” songs and “secret” songs that are very important in the culture.

One such example is the use of music for Kachina folk dancers. The masked dancers wear masks and dress up as Kachinas, plus they give Kachina dolls to the children. Dancing for the revered spirit and giving respect can bring about good life, abundance, rain, fertility or healing. Doing the other way around is a different story.