Roam through Africa
with music

Take a virtual trip to Africa with the Laramie County Community College Collegiate Chorale, Kantorei Singers and Men's Ensemble as they perform different kinds of music from African culture on Sunday, March 4, at King of Glory Lutheran Church.

Nancy Cornish, LCCC choir director, said she wanted to try something totally new in the form of a musical history lesson.

Learn with sight, sound, not sheet music

"I had a DVD of some African people singing and dancing some of their native songs, and I thought it would be fun for the students to learn songs and dances the way Africans do, by hearing and watching rather than reading notes," Cornish said.

Cornish said she wanted the students to "learn about the history and cultures of the South Africans, the slaves and the more contemporary African-Americans." She added she wanted them to experience music in a new way.

"The music is greatly improvisational in nature," Cornish added. "Also, different voice parts often sing with different rhythms, which, when combined, make for a very complex rhythmic pattern."

Sing, dance to music with all aspects
of African culture

For the concert, the performers will sing and dance songs, sing early spirituals from the time of slavery in America, sing some later spirituals and gospel songs that have developed in America with heavy African influence and then sing a contemporary African song that has had influence from Western culture.

Along with the diverse music are diverse messages. Some of the songs reflect the South African struggle for freedom in the time of Apartheid; some are about appreciation for nature, and some are expressions of emotions, the need for God and hope for better future times.

This improvisational African music starts with one person creating an idea. Once the idea is created, others repeat the idea while another improvises a different idea that harmonizes with the first idea. After that, more people come in with some other improvised harmonies and others join with contrasting rhythms and shouts.

Music grown from peoples' feelings

"The music has just grown up and out of the people's feelings. Often, the songs are 'composed' outside as they stand around for a long time after a church meeting," Cornish said.

Cornish also said the students seem to be enjoying themselves when they perform these songs because she has seen the enthusiasm they have for the songs and the smiles on their faces.

"They tell me they are singing these songs as they walk around, which demonstrates that the music has very 'catchy' tunes," Cornish added. "Hopefully, the audience will feel the exuberance of the music and will want to stand up and move to it. We will encourage that."

Admission is free, but donations for the Veterans Administration Medical Center are accepted. The concert starts at 3 p.m., and refreshments will be served afterward in the Fellowship Hall, so the audience can visit with the performers.

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Additional Links

Why play music by ear?


History of African music