Simultaneous multidimensionality in African music: musical cubism

  • David Locke Associate Professor in the Music Department at Tufts University


"Simultaneous multidimensionality" names a condition prevalent in many African traditions of performance art in which music is coherent from different aural and kinesthetic perspectives at the same time. This changeable, plural quality is preset in composed musical works and, in musical performance, affects on-the-spot decisions. Simultaneously multidimensional music can have charismatic force that is capable of generating a transformative affective experience in knowing listeners. The quality of simultaneous multidimensionality warrants consideration as a fundamental dimension in a general theory of structure and aesthetics of African works of performance art.


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Sound Recordings

Anon [CD] 2001 Exponent of Bamaya, Zadonu
Chernoff, John 1985 Master Drummers of Dagbon, vol. 1, Cambridge, MA: Rounder Records
1990 Master Drummers of Dagbon, vol.2, Cambridge, MA: Rounder Records
Locke, David 1996 Drum Damba (CD). Tempe, AZ: White Cliffs Media Company
2008 Drumming for Dagomba Chiefs: Tornale, Ghana 1985 (Earth CDs 6H-DDC)
How to Cite
Locke, D. “Simultaneous Multidimensionality in African Music: Musical Cubism”. African Music: Journal of the International Library of African Music, Vol. 8, no. 3, Nov. 2009, pp. 8-37, doi: