• Chidi Obijiaku University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa




artwork, composition, hybridity, Igbo choral art music, non-notated, orchestration


Igbo choral art music is a Nigerian genre that exhibits interesting musical hybridity as it combines a notated choral part with an un-notated orchestral part into a final musical artwork. The notated choral part is produced by the composer through a synthesis of Igbo traditional music and European classical music, while the orchestral part, based on Igbo traditional music practices, is produced by the choral director. For over five decades scholarly discussions on Igbo choral art music have focused on the notated choral part and how composers blend European classical music and Igbo traditional music principles. Although the choral part is significant, my more than two decades of participation in the genre as well as interviews with leading practitioners reveal that without the orchestral part, a composition is considered incomplete by both the practitioners and the audience. Such a critical aspect of the genre has received little to no academic attention. This article is an autoethnographic report on the orchestration principles of Igbo choral art music, its relationship with Igbo traditional music, and how such orchestration contributes to hybridity as a fundamental resource in the genre’s development.

Author Biography

Chidi Obijiaku, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Chidi Obijiaku is a Nigerian composer, choral director, pianist, and conductor. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Education from the University of Nigeria. Chidi holds Bachelor and Master’s degrees in composition from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, where he is currently a PhD candidate. His research focuses on exploring urban soundscapes for the composition of African art music in the twenty-first century, and it has resulted in eclectic compositions where resources are mostly drawn from Igbo traditional music, Nigerian hip-hop, highlife, and Pidgin language. Chidi also teaches undergraduate music theory and composition at the University of Witwatersrand.


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Interviews by Author

Ikegwuonu, Ifeanyi. Onitsha, Nigeria, 2 March 2021.

Ojukwu, Sam. Owerri, Nigeria, 6 December 2020.

Onwuka, Ugochukwu. Awka, Nigeria, 12 January 2021.



How to Cite

Obijiaku, Chidi. 2023. “HYBRIDITY IN MODERN NIGERIAN MUSIC: THE CASE OF IGBO CHORAL ART MUSIC”. African Music : Journal of the International Library of African Music 11 (4):25-42. https://doi.org/10.21504/amj.v11i4.2456.