Afrobeat

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Afrobeat is a combination of traditional Yoruba music, jazz, highlife, funk and chanted vocals[1], fused with percussion and vocal styles, popularised in Africa in the 1970s. Its main creator was the Nigerian multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Fela Kuti, who gave it its name[1], who used it to revolutionise musical structure as well as the political context in his native Nigeria. It was Kuti who coined the term "afrobeat" upon his return from a U.S. tour with his group Nigeria '70 (formerly Koola Lobitos). Afrobeat features chants, call-and-response vocals, and complex, interacting rhythms.[1]

The new sound hailed from a club that he established called the Afro-Shrine. Upon arriving in Nigeria, Kuti also changed the name of his group to Africa '70. The band maintained a five-year residency in the Afro-Shrine from 1970 to 1975 while afrobeat thrived among Nigerian youth. Afrobeat is now one of the most recognizable music genres in the world and has influenced as many Western musicians as it has African ones with its exuberant style and polyrhythms.

Contents

Origins

Afrobeat originated from the southern part of Nigeria in the 1960s where Kuti experimented with many different forms of contemporary music of the time. Prevalent in his and Lagbaja's music are native African harmonies and rhythms, taking different elements and combining, modernizing and improvising upon them. Politics are essential to afrobeat, since founder Kuti used social criticism to pave the way for social change. His message can be described as confrontational and controversial, which can be related to the political climate of most of the African countries in the 1960s, many of which were dealing with political injustice and military corruption while recovering from the transition from colonial governments to self-determination. As the genre spread throughout the African continent many bands took up the style. The recordings of these bands and their songs were rarely heard or exported outside the originating countries but many can now be found on compilation albums and CDs from specialist record shops.

Instrumentation

Big band (15 to 30 pieces: Fela-era afrobeat) and energetic performances

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