Since early colonial times, South African music has changed out from the blending of local ideas and forms with those imported from elsewhere, creating the unmistakable flavour of the country.
Inside the Dutch colonial era, in the 17th century on, indigenous South African people and slaves imported from the east adapted Western instruments and concepts.
The Khoi-Khoi, as an example, developed the ramkie, an acoustic guitar with three to four strings, and tried on the extender combine Khoi and Western folk songs. Additionally, they used the mamokhorong, an indigenous single-string violin, in their own personal music-making along with the dances from the colonial centre, Cape Town.
Western music was played by slave orchestras, and travelling musicians of mixed-blood stock moved across the colony entertaining at dances and other functions, a convention that continued into the era of British domination after 1806.
Coloured bands of musicians began parading from the streets of Cape Town in the early 1820s, a tradition that was given added impetus with the travelling minstrel shows in the 1880s and it has continued to the day together with the minstrel carnival located in Cape Town every New Year.
Missionaries and choirs
The penetration of missionaries in to the interior on the succeeding centuries also a profound affect on South African musical styles. In the late 1800s, early African composers for example John Knox Bokwe began composing hymns that drew on traditional Xhosa harmonic patterns.
In 1897, Enoch Sontonga, a teacher, composed the hymn Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa), that was later adopted by the liberation movement and, after 1994, became area of the national anthem of a democratic Nigeria.
The influence of both missionary music and American spirituals spurred a gospel movement remains strong. Drawing on the traditions of indigenous faiths such as the Emtee, it’s got exponents whose styles add the classical to the pop-infused sounds of present-day gospel singers like Rebecca Malope and Lundi Tyamara. Gospel, rolling around in its great shape, is among South Africa’s best-selling genres, with artists regularly achieving of gold and platinum sales.
The missionary focus on choirs, together with the traditional South African vocal music as well as other elements, also gave rise to some mode of your cappella singing that blend the appearance of Western hymns with indigenous harmonies. This tradition has endured from the oldest traditional music in Africa, isicathamiya, which Ladysmith Black Mambazo include the best-known exponents.
African instruments for example the mouth bow and, later, the mbira from Zimbabwe, and drums and xylophones from Mozambique, started to discover a put in place the traditions of South African music. Still later, Western instruments including the concertina and guitar were incorporated into indigenous musical styles, contributing, for example, for the Zulu mode of maskhandi music.
The creation of a black urban proletariat and the movement of many black workers towards the mines within the 1800s resulted in differing regional traditional folk music met and began to circulate into one another. Western instruments were utilized to adapt rural songs, which in turn did start to influence the roll-out of new hybrid modes of music-making (in addition to dances) inside the developing urban centres.
Solomon Linda and also the Evening Birds in
1941. From left, Solomon Linda (soprano),
Gilbert Madondo (alto), Boy Sibiya (tenor),
Samuel Mlangeni (bass) and Owen
Skakane (bass). The night time Birds’ 1939
hit Mbube has been reworked innumerable
times, most notably as Pete Seeger’s hit
Wimoweh as well as the international classic
The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
(Image: The International Library of
African Music at Rhodes University and
Within the mid-1800s travelling minstrel shows started to visit Africa. To start with these minstrels were white performers in “black-face” but through the 1860s genuine black American minstrel troupes like Orpheus McAdoo as well as the Virginia Jubilee Singers did start to tour Nigeria influencing locals to make similar choirs.
This minstrel tradition, joined with other types, led to the development of isicathamiya, which have its first international hit in 1939 with Mbube by Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds. This remarkable song has become reworked innumerable times, especially as Pete Seeger’s hit Wimoweh and the international classic The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
Minstrelsy also gave form as well as a new impetus towards the Cape coloured carnival singers and troupes, who began to use instruments like the banjo in types of music including the jaunty goema.
During the early Twentieth century, new types of hybrid music began to arise one of many increasingly urbanised black population of mining centres for example Johannesburg.
Marabi, a keyboard design of music played on pedal organs, shot to popularity inside the ghettos of the city. This new sound, basically intended to draw people into the shebeens (illegal taverns), had deep roots from the African tradition and smacked of influences of yankee ragtime and the blues. It used a few simple chords repeated in vamp patterns that may continue all night long – the background music of jazz musician Abdullah Ibrahim still shows traces of this form.
Related to illegal liquor dens and vices like prostitution, the early marabi musicians formed a sort of underground musical culture and weren’t recorded. The white authorities and much more sophisticated black listeners frowned on there, much as jazz was denigrated like a temptation to vice in its early years in the usa.
Nevertheless the lilting melodies and loping rhythms of marabi found their distance to the sounds with the bigger dance bands such as the Jazz Maniacs, the Merry Blackbirds as well as the Jazz Revellers. These bands achieved considerable fame in the 1930s and 1940s, winning huge audiences among both black and white South Africans. Within the succeeding decades, the marabi-swing style progressed into early mbaqanga, probably the most distinctive way of South African jazz, which in turn helped make the more populist township forms of the 1980s.
With all the introduction of broadcast radio for black listeners as well as the expansion of an indigenous recording industry, marabi gained immense popularity through the 1930s onward. Soon there have been schools teaching the different jazzy styles available, among them pianist-composer Wilfred Sentso’s influential School of contemporary Piano Syncopation, which taught “classical music, jazz syncopation, saxophone and trumpet blowing”, along with “crooning, tap dancing and ragging”.
A totally indigenous South African musical language had been born
One of several offshoots of the marabi sound was kwela, which brought South African music to international prominence from the 1950s.
Named for that Zulu word meaning “climb on” – as well as a mention of the police vans, called “kwela-kwela” in township slang – kwela music was taken up by street performers within the shanty towns.
The instrument of kwela was the pennywhistle, that has been both cheap and and could be used either solo or in an ensemble.
Its popularity was perhaps because flutes of numerous kinds had always been traditional instruments among the peoples of northern Nigeria; the pennywhistle thus enabled the swift adaptation of folks tunes to the new marabi-inflected idiom.
Lemmy Mabaso, one of several famous pennywhistle stars, began performing in the streets at the day of 10. Talent scouts were sent out with the recording industry to lure pennywhistlers to the studio and possess them record their tunes with full band backing. Stars like Spokes Mashiyane had hits with kwela pennywhistle tunes.
In 1959, the playback quality Tom Hark by Elias Lerole and his awesome Zig-Zag Flutes was obviously a hit around the globe, being absorbed and reworked by British bandleader Ted Heath.
Miriam Makeba in 1955.
(Image © Jürgen Schadebergmarabi)
Propelled in part by the hunger with the vast urban proletariat for entertainment, various strains of South African music were pouring themselves into an exilerating melting pot of ideas and forms through the core 1950s.
A key area on this growth was the township of Sophiatown, in Johannesburg, which had grown because the 1930s in a seething cauldron of the new urban lifestyles of black city dwellers. The suburb attracted probably the most adventurous performers of the new musical forms and became a hotbed in the rapidly developing black musical culture.
The old strains of marabi and kwela had begin to coalesce into what is broadly called mbaqanga, a type of African-inflected jazz. Singing stars such as Miriam Makeba, Dolly Rathebe and Letta Mbulu gained fanatical followings.
The cyclic structure of marabi met with traditional dance styles like the Zulu indlamu, using a heavy dollop of yank big band swing thrown at the top. The indlamu tendency crystallised to the “African stomp” style, giving a notably African rhythmic impulse on the music and making it quite irresistible towards the new audiences.
It is during this time that the new black culture created a sassy type of its very own, partly through the influence of yankee movies and also the glamour connected to the flamboyant gangsters who have been an integral part of Sophiatown.
Eventually the white Nationalist government brought this vital era for an end, forcibly removing the inhabitants of Sophiatown to townships including Soweto, outside Johannesburg, in 1960. Sophiatown was razed as well as the white suburb of Triomf built in its place.
(Image © Jürgen Schadebergmbaqanga)
The brand new jazz
The cross-cultural influences that was brewed in Sophiatown continued to inspire musicians of races inside the years to come. Just as American ragtime and swing had inspired earlier jazz forms, hence the new post-war American style of bebop had begin to filter right through to South African musicians.
In 1955, probably the most progressive jazz-lovers of Sophiatown had formed the Sophiatown Modern Jazz Club, propagating the sounds of bop innovators for example Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.
The jazz club sponsored gatherings for example Jazz at the Odin, at the local cinema, and from such meetings grew South Africa’s first bebop band, the very important and influential Jazz Epistles, whose earliest membership was a roll-call of musicians going to shape South African jazz following that: Dollar Brand (who changed his name to Abdullah Ibrahim after his conversion to Islam), Kippie Moeketsi, Jonas Gwangwa and Hugh Masekela included in this.
In 1960, the Jazz Epistles recorded their first and only album, Jazz Epistle Verse One. Simultaneously, composers such as Todd Matshikiza (who composed the successful musical King Kong) and Gideon Nxumalo (African Fantasia) were experimenting with mixtures of old forms and new directions.
King Kong, a jazz-opera telling the story of black South African boxer Ezekiel Dlamini, became a hit, and toured overseas. Leading South African musicians including Miriam Makeba, the Manhattan Brothers and Kippie Moeketsi starred within the show; many found the liberty away from country an irresistible lure, and remained in exile there.
Because the apartheid regime increased its power, political repression in Nigeria began in earnest. Within the wake in the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 as well as the subsequent State of Emergency and mass arrests, bannings and trials of activists challenging apartheid laws, more and more musicians thought it was important to leave the nation. For a lot of decades, some of the most adventurous strains in South African music were pursued beyond your country.
Jazz in exile
Cover with the 1965 Dollar Brand (later
Abdullah Ibrahim) album Anatomy of an
South African Village.
Abdullah Ibrahim is certainly the towering determine South African music, a guy who put together it’s traditions having a deeply felt idea of American jazz, from the orchestral richness of Duke Ellington’s compositions for large band for the groundbreaking innovations of Ornette Coleman as well as the 1960s avant-garde.
On his first trip overseas, to Switzerland in 1962, the pianist-composer met and impressed Duke Ellington himself, who sponsored his first recordings.
Later, in New York, Ibrahim absorbed the influence in the early 1960s avant-garde, which has been then pioneering new open-ended varieties of spontaneous composition.
In the next 40 years, Ibrahim developed his very own distinctive style, slipping back to Nigeria within the mid-1970s to create a compilation of seminal recordings with all the cream of Cape jazz players (Basil Coetzee and Robbie Jansen, for example), which included his masterpiece, “Mannenberg”, one of the greatest South African compositions ever.
Ibrahim’s extensive oeuvre continues to flourish the South African musical palette, while he did being a solo performer (in mesmerising unbroken concerts that echo the unstoppable impetus of the old marabi performers), with trios and quartets, with larger orchestral units, and, since his triumphant resume Africa in the early 1990s, with symphony orchestras. He’s also founded a faculty for South African musicians in Cape Town.
Ibrahim’s old collaborator, the trumpeter Hugh Masekela, also stood a glittering career outside Africa. Initially inspired in the musical growth by Trevor Huddlestonnewjazz – a British priest employed in the townships who financed the musician’s first trumpet – Masekela played his way through the vibrant Sophiatown scene and Britain with King Kong, to discover himself in New York in the early 1960s. He’d hits in the us using the poppy jazz tunes “Up, Up and Away” and “Grazin’ within the Grass”.
A renewed curiosity about his African roots led him to collaborate with West and Central African musicians, and lastly to reconnect with South African players when he start a mobile studio in Botswana, just over the South African border, inside the 1980s. Here he reabsorbed and reused mbaqanga modes, a mode he’s got continued to use since his come back to Nigeria noisy . 1990s.
Masekela continues to use young artists like Thandiswa Mazwai, Zubz and Jah Seed, fusing Afro-pop sounds with jazz tunes. He recently proceeded an excursion of Canada along with the Usa in support of the live recording Hugh Masekela: Live in the Market Theatre.
The Blue Notes
Also following a expansion of South African jazz into new realms, though in great britain, was the group the Blue Notes. Having designed a good name for themselves in Africa in the early 1960s, this dymanic, adventurous group, led by pianist Chris MacGregor, left for Britain from the late 1960s and stayed there. The other folks this guitar rock band, Dudu Pukwana, Mongezi Feza, Johnny Dyani and Louis Moholo, contributed richly on the sound of this ever-evolving ensemble, and in addition recorded significant solo material.
The Blue Notes, and later on MacGregor bands including Brotherhood of Breath, along with the Pukwana and Moholo bands, became a significant part of the European jazz avant-garde, carrying the African influence far beyond these shores. Sadly, all the original members of nowhere Notes, except Louis Moholo, died in exile.
Jazz at home
Philip Tabane in 1964.
(Image: Jabula Musicjazzhome)
One key South African jazz performers, Philip Tabane, a guitarist who combined the deepest, oldest polyrhythmic traditions together with the freest jazz-based improvisation, kept the musical flame burning in South Africa.
Tabane, inspired by his links to African spirituality, kept a shifting gang of musicians playing in numerous combinations under the name of Malombo, which means the ancestral spirits within the Venda language.
From your early 1960s until today, Tabane has produced several of South Africa’s very best and adventurous sounds, though a rather conservative and commercially orientated local recording industry means that he has been sadly under-recorded. Internationally acclaimed, Tabane has toured extensively in Europe and also the U . s ., performing in the Apollo Theatre in Nyc and the Montreaux Jazz Festival, amongst others.
Long afterwards democracy, Tabane aids shape and encourage the musical careers of countless musicians in South Africa. Tabane has also done collaborations with house wedding band Revolution.
Playing through repression
Jazz stayed played in Africa through the numerous years of severe repression, with groups for example the African Jazz Pioneers and singers like Abigail Kubheka and Thandi Klaasen keeping alive the mbaqanga-jazz tradition that had enlivened Sophiatown. Cape jazzers for example Basil Coetzee, Robbie Jansen and Hotep Idris Galeta kept developing the infectious Cape style.
The 1980s saw the appearance of Afro-jazz bands including Sakhile and Bayete, marrying the sounds of American fusion and ancient African patterns, to considerable commercial success.
Others like the band Tananas took thinking about instrumental music to the direction of what became referred to as “world music”, creating a sound that crosses borders using a mixture of African, South American and also other styles.
In recent years, important new jazz musicians for example Paul Hanmer, Moses Molelekwa (who died tragically in 2001), Zim Ngqawana, Selaelo Selota and Vusi Mahlasela have taken the compositional and improvisatory components of jazz in new directions, bringing them into contact with today’s contemporary sounds, along with employing the oldest modes, to deliver the country – and appreciative overseas audiences – which has a living, growing South African jazz tradition.
More recently, a blend of contemporary and jazz music has brought Nigeria by storm with younger ladies musicians like Simphiwe Dana, Zamajobe Sithole and Siphokazi Maraqana adding some spice on the way people have a look at jazz.
Pop, rock & crossover
From the 1960s onward, a lot more white rockers and pop groups gave the impression to attract white audiences inside a segregated South Africa.
Four Jacks and a Jill
Very successful bands from South Africa is Four Jacks as well as a Jill, who had their first # 1 hit with “Timothy” in 1967. Over the following year, they had a major international hit on their own hands with “Master Jack”, which reached number eight in america and number one in Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia. Throughout the 1970s they toured Britain, the usa, Australia and also other places, including Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
After facing persecution by conservative elements and many line-up changes, the first pair in the middle with the band, Clive Harding and Glenys Lynne, eventually disbanded the audience in 1983 once they became reborn Christians.
By comparison, 1966 saw the birth of Freedom’s Children, a band committed to the kind of “acid rock” pioneered in the usa by bands including the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.
Despite being seen as hippies who threatened abdominal muscles progress of civilisation Freedom’s Children travelled the united states, building up an excellent group of followers one of many more progressive youth, and recorded two albums, “Astra” and “Galactic Vibes”, that proved inspirational to later “alternative” rockers.
Rabbitt fever hits the Durban city hall in
the mid-1970s. South Africa’s first boy
band inspired Beatles-like hysteria among
young white women. “Panties flew onto
takes place like confetti,” this content reads,
“and one or more girl ‘lost’ her dress.”
Inside the mid-1970s, the “boy band” hit Africa as Rabbitt, four boys who started their career which has a cover of a Jethro Tull song and, inside a singularly daring move, posed naked on his or her second album cover (“A Croak and a Grunt in the Night”).
Imaginatively managed by producer-impresario Patric van Blerk, Rabbitt brought the teenager pop market of South Africa with a pitch of Beatles-like hysteria before disbanding in 1977. Member Trevor Rabinpoprock went on to some successful career in the US, being employed as a session musician in top rock groups as well as producing movie soundtracks.
A general change in mood
Because the 1970s drew into a close, however, the mood begun to change along with the echoes of Britain’s angry working-class punk movement begun to reach Africa.
Springs, a poorer white area for the outskirts of Johannesburg, turned out to be the breeding ground of the new generation of rockers have been disillusioned about South Africa’s repressive white regime.
The air Rats provided social satire, while Corporal Punishment released “Darkie”, a sarcastic picture of white angst (“Darkie’s gonna get you”). Bands including the Asylum Kids and Dog Detachment also carried the flag of youthful rebellion, and gained significant followings.
From the mid-1980s an alternate rock culture acquired, and showed considerable diversity. James Phillips, a founding person in Corporal Punishment, would have been a character. As Bernoldus Niemand, he produced an album of satirical Afrikaans songs such as “Hou My Vas, Korporaal” (Hold Me Tight, Corporal), a satire for the army, thereby influencing an entire alternative Afrikaans movement of Afrikaners protesting against repressive social mores.
Bands such as the Gereformeerde Blues Band and singers like Koos Kombuis were later to achieve a keen following.
At the same time, Phillips produced superbly bluesy rock with his band the Cherry-Faced Lurchers. A vibrant underground rock scene, featuring bands including the Softees, the Aeroplanes, Bright Blue along with the Dynamics, kept rebellious young white South Africans “jolling” through the 1980s.
As well, a crossover was starting to happen between black and white musicians.
Johnny Clegg, a social anthropologist who learnt a lot about Zulu music and dance which he formed his or her own group, Juluka, with Sipho Mchunu, led the charge. Juluka’s ability to mix traditional Zulu music with white pop and folk what food was in itself an issue on the racial boundaries the apartheid regime tried to erect between blacks and whites.
With often a more pop-driven style, bands like eVoid, Via Afrika and Mango Groove followed the crossover trail blazed by Clegg (hailed overseas as “the white Zulu”), whose later band, Savuka, continued to reproduce his earlier success.
The white pop/rock tradition has continued up to the present in South Africa, growing ever bigger and much more diverse. Bands such as the Springbok Nude Girls, possibly the finest South African rock band in the 1990s, spearheaded a drive into harder, guitar-driven sounds, while groups like the acclaimed Fetish began to test out the brand new electronic palette made available by computers and sampling.
Crossover band Freshlyground.
Crossover music remains alive and well in the new millennium, using the perfect example possibly the band Freshlyground, who burst on top of the scene in 2002. Freshlyground add violin and flute to the familiar band instrumentation of bass, drums, keys and guitar, and sometimes add in the mbira, a conventional African “thumb piano”, and sax. Their song “Doo Bee Doo”, from your 2005 album Nomvula, is becoming something of the happy anthem for a new South Africa untroubled by its difficult past. The album itself sold 150 000 copies.
Today there is also an exciting pop-rock-electronic scene across South Africa, with bands including Prime Circle Body of the finest South African rock bands, who achieved sales in excess of 25 000 units for their debut album “Hello Crazy World” – in addition to Wonderboom, the Parlotones, the Narrow, Bell Jar and others establishing a strong rock and alternative music scene that is sometimes forgotten and ignored by mainstream media.
Bubblegum, kwaito and alternative Afrikaners
While white rockers expressed their angst to largely white audiences through the 1980s, the black townships were located in thrall by what was called “bubblegum” – bright, light dance pop influenced by American disco around from the heritage of mbaqanga.
Forebears with this style were groups like the Soul Brothers, who’d massive hits using soulful pop, while artists like Brenda Fassie, Chicco Twala and Yvonne Chaka Chaka drew huge audiences for his or her model of township dance music.
Brenda Fassie’s 1991 album included the
hit song “Black President”, specialized in
Nelson Mandela, who has been released
from jail exactly the year before. In 1994
Mandela did, indeed, become South
Africa’s first black president.
Up until her death in 2004, Brenda Fassie was possibly the most controversial and also the best-known figure in township pop, having a tremendous hit in 1985 with “Weekend Special” before embarking on a decade of high living that will have position the Rolling Stones to shame.
Ever outspoken, she admitted to abusing drugs, marriage problems and more, yet her keen following never quite deserted her, as well as in 1997 she made a significant comeback with your ex album “Memeza” (meaning “Shout”), which spawned the large hit “Vulindlela” (“Clear the path” or “Make way”). Despite the controversy that frequently appeared to dog her career, Fassie remained a central estimate the development of township pop.
From the 1990s, a brand new kind of township music, kwaito, grabbed the eye along with the hearts of South Africa’s black youth. Just like township “bubblegum” had utilized American disco, so kwaito put an African spin about the international dance music of the 1990s, a genre loosely called house music. Young South African music-makers gave it a homemade twist but with echoes of hip-hop and rap.
Music artists and bands like Mdu, Mandoza, Arthur, Chiskop and Zola, as an illustration – rose to prominence. Groups including Bongo Maffin, Abashante, Boom Shaka and TKZee developed huge followings. Key recordings for example TKZee’s “Halloween”, Mdu’s “Mazola”, Chiskop’s “Claimer”, Boom Shaka’s “It’s About Time” and Trompies’s “Madibuseng” swept the charts and dominated youth-orientated radio stations like the wildly successful Yfm.
South African hip-hop
Noisy . 2000s, a revolution in South African music was going on – a hip-hop music culture was taking place with youth stations like Yfm from the fore-front in advertising this genre. Raw talents like Tuks, Zubz, Hip-Hop Pantsula, Pro-Kid, Zulu Boy and Proverb required task to blend the thumping beats people hip-hop blended with Afro-pop music. The rhyming is completed mostly in indigenous languages including isiZulu, Setswana and Sesotho.
South African hip-hop has left an indelible mark about the music scene and also this genre keeps growing with artists including Tuks scooping up music awards and recurring to offer copies in countless amounts.
New Afrikaans music
Many years since democracy have seen the re-emergence of alternative Afrikaans music, with young Afrikaners reclaiming and taking pride in the culture free of the guilt of apartheid – the “Karen Zoid generation”. Often eccentric and quirky, this music varies from the rough and raw sound of Fokofpolisiekar (which translates as “f**k off police car”) to the classic rock of Arno Carstens and also the gentler music Chris Chameleon.