BRIDGING THE GAP FROM TRADITIONAL TO ELECTRONIC ACHOLI MUSIC
Keywords:Acholi music, digital, electronic music, festivals, social networks, tradition, Uganda
This article examines the historical and sociological processes that led to the electronification of traditional Acholi musical repertoires in the northern region of Uganda. Akena P’Layeng Okella, also known as Leo Palayeng, is presented as a leading figure in this transformation of traditional music to electronic music, which has become known as Acholitronix. Palayeng is also my main interlocutor. Through Palayeng’s biography, the influence of digital technology in the production, distribution, and reception of musical traditions is discussed. The new, digitised repertoire was first integrated into wedding ceremonies, and then played in bars and clubs in the city. It finally reached the international, alternative electronic club scene. This process of transformation in the repertoire is part of a long history of local and international musical influences in Uganda. The extent to which information and communication technologies have played a decisive role in the dissemination of musical genres, the adoption or adaptation of musical instruments and techniques, and the creation of local, national, or even pan-African musical identities since the 1980s, is described in the article. The place that these forms of digital musical traditions have on online platforms is also discussed. Based on these observations, the contours of the transformation and switch from the acoustic to the electronic – while being considered by the actors as being the same music – are described.
“Africa Synthesized: Editorial Note.” https://herri.org.za/4/carina-venter-stephanie-vos/.
Amselle, Jean-Loup. 2001. Branchements: Anthropologie de l’Universalité des Cultures. Paris: Flammarion.
Appadurai, Arjun. 1996. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Arom, Simha, Fernando Nathalie, Susanne Fürniss, Sylvie Le Bomin, and Fabrice Marandola. 2008. “La catégorisation des patrimoines musicaux dans les sociétés de de tradition orale.” In Catégories et Catégorisations: Une Perspective Interdisciplinaire, edited by Alvarez-Pereyre, 273–313. Leuven-Louvain: Peeters Publishers.
Aubert, Laurent. 2007. The Music of the Other: New Challenges for Ethnomusicology in a Global Age. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing.
Born, Georgina. 2005. “On Musical Mediation: Ontology, Technology and Creativity.” Twentieth Century Music 2 (1): 7–36. https://doi.org/10.1017/S147857220500023X.
Charry, Eric. 2000. Mande Music. Traditional and Modern Music of the Maninka and Mandinka of Western Africa. Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press.
Feld, Steven. 2000. “The Poetics and Politics of Pygmy Pop.” In Western Music and its Others: Difference, Representation and Appropriation in Music, edited by Georgina Born and David Hesmondhalgh, 280–304. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Hewlett, Denholm, 2021. “Leo Palayeng: Memoirs of an Elephant Warrior.” Psychic Garden. https://www.the-psychic-garden.com/post/music-culture-leo-payleyang.
Kubik, Gerhard. 1981. “Neo-traditional popular music in East Africa since 1945.” Popular Music 1:83–104. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261143000000933.
Lacaille, Jean. 2019. “Faizal Mostrixx: l’alchimiste.” Pan African Music, 5 December. https://pan-african-music.com/faizal-mostrixx-lalchimiste/.
Latour, Bruno. 1991. Nous n’avons jamais été modernes. Paris: Éditions La Découverte.
Martin, H. 1991. “Popular Music in Urban East Africa: From Historical Perspective to a Contemporary Hero.” Black Music Research Journal 11 (1): 39–53. https://doi.org/10.2307/779243.
Olivier, Emmanuelle, ed. 2012. Musiques au monde: La tradition au prisme de la création. Paris: Delatours France.
Olivier, Emmanuelle. 2019. “La fabrique de la musique et du son.” https://afrinum.hypotheses.org/category/projet.
Stewart, Gary. 2000. Rumba on the River: A History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos. London, New York: Verso.
Toynbee, Jason. 2012. “Music, Culture and Creativity.” In The Cultural Study of Music: A Critical Introduction, edited by Martin Clayton, Trevor Herbert, and Richard Middleton, 161–171. New York: Routledge.
Waterman, Christopher A. 1990. “‘Our Tradition Is a Very Modern Tradition’: Popular Music and the Construction of Pan-Yoruba Identity.” Ethnomusicology 34 (3): 367–79. https://doi.org/10.2307/851623.
Venter, Carina, and Stephanie Vos. 2020. “Africa Synthesized: Editorial Note.” https://herri.org.za/4/carina-venter-stephanie-vos/
White, Bob, ed. 2010. Musique populaire et société à Kinshasa: Une Ethnographie de l’écoute. Paris: L’Harmattan.
White, Bob. 2012. Music and Globalization: Critical Encounters. Bloomington, Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
Interviews by Author
Debru, Derek. Brussels, Belgium, 29 September 2021.
Palayeng, Leo. Gulu, Uganda, 3 May, 3 September 2021.
Alpha, Otim, Baby Davlin, Bosmic, Otim Brother, Q & City Boy, Jojo Lakoc, Korondo
Jeff, Lady Grace Atim, Okwera Jahria, Ojegele, Pan Afrique, Pro Lagwee, Tabu
Buzy Body, Twongweno Opiyo. 2019. Electro Acholi Kaboom from Northern Uganda, Nyege Nyege Tapes: Kampala. NNT016. https://nyegenyegetapes.bandcamp.com/album/electro-acholi-kaboom-from-northern-uganda.
PaLayeng, Leo. 2020. Elephant Dance, Bandcamp. Lamyel Legends Recordz. https://leopalayeng.bandcamp.com/album/elephants-dance
Veuger, Joop. 1996. Tipu Pa Acholi - The Spirit of Acholi. Music of The Acholi in Uganda. PAN Records, PAN 2029.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 INTERNATIONAL LIBRARY OF AFRICAN MUSIC, Rhodes University
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.