African metrical lyrics


  • A. M. Jones London School of Oriental and African Studies (United Kingdom)



Musical meter and rhythm -- Africa, Music -- Africa, Songs -- Texts -- Africa


The area of Africa with which we are here concerned is the whole of the continent south of the Sahara. The focus of our study is upon the traditional indigenous practice of black Africa, and we shall not therefore consider lyrical patterns which are clearly due to Islamic, European or other outside influence. A lyric, says the dictionary, is a poem which is meant to be sung. While in parts of Africa there Occurs declamatory or eulogistic verse which is spoken or cantillated in a quasi-singing manner, a very great deal perhaps the majority of African verse is lyrical, that is, it is inseparably wedded to a particular tune and only exists as a song in the composers mind, the words and the tune being generated simultaneously as a single indivisible unit.




How to Cite

Jones, A. M. 1964. “African Metrical Lyrics”. African Music : Journal of the International Library of African Music 3 (3):6-14.