Educational Resouces on Traditional African Music: An Annotated Bibliography of Contemporary Offerings and Suggestions for Their Use in the Classroom

Article excerpt

Christian D. J. Horton, Fort Valley State University*

In their eagerness to develop proposals for curriculum and instruction, contemporary researchers and developers of resources on traditional African music often fail to understand that available resource materials must be critiqued in terms of the schools and students for whom they are primarily intended. Toward that end, this annotated bibliography was compiled to combat both the dearth of musicological resources on traditional African music and teacher-educators' lack of knowledge about these resources. It examines significant works published between 1960 and 1991 that provide information and perspectives superseding previously available instructional resources.

In Africa and elsewhere, educators have called for the development and use of educational resource materials on traditional African music as a means of preserving and perpetuating this vital art form. This call has become increasingly urgent in recent years as the breakdown in traditional systems of cultural transmission among modernizing nations on the continent of Africa has resulted in much of its traditional music being lost or severely misrepresented. Several resources on traditional African music have been published in the last three decades. Unfortunately, many of these works, particularly those published in the 1960s and before, fail to assess the enormity of the sociocultural and educational issues involved in the formal study, use, and performance of this music in the classroom. In their eagerness to develop proposals for curriculum and instruction, contemporary researchers and developers of resources on traditional African music often fail as well to understand that available resource materials must be critiqued in terms of the schools and students for whom they are primarily intended. Although many of the contemporary resources offer innovative suggestions for the inclusion of traditional African music in formal education, most continue to ignore the critical issues mentioned above. It is therefore incumbent that teachers and learners using these resources take these aspects into consideration to determine whether any adjustments in instructional strategies or perspective must be made. The authenticity of various traditional musical forms must also be interrogated to determine their relevance and importance to the cultures from which they spring.

This bibliography was compiled to combat both the dearth of musicological resources on traditional African music and teacher-educators' lack of knowledge about these resources. It examines significant works published between 1960 and 1991 that provide information and perspectives superseding previously available instructional resources. In compiling it, sight was not lost of earlier bibliographic compilations, many of which are annotated and contain information relevant to this research (e.g., Aning, 1967; Gaskin, 1965; Gray, 1991; Lems-Dworkin, 1991; Merriam, 1951; Thieme, 1962; Varley, 1936). The most notable of these are described in this compilation. Nonetheless, there remains an urgent need for more ethnographic studies of traditional African music, especially those pertaining to song repertoire and musical instruments, that will ensure the preservation and perpetuation of Africa's cultural heritage. Studies addressing these critical areas, and the resource materials that will emerge from them, are essential to the continued study of this important musical legacy in classrooms around the world. Aduonum, Kwasi. (1981). A compilation, analysis, and adaptation of selected Ghanaian folktale songs for use in the elementary general music class. Doctoral dissertation in music education, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, 1980 (UMI No. AAI 8017212). 492 pp.

The teaching techniques recommended in this work, which provides notation for several traditional Ghanaian folk songs and a recounting of the folktales associated with them, are based on the assumption that exposure to and involvement with traditional African music forms "will help fulfill the aesthetic needs of children and assist in raising the level of their intellectual and cultural experience" (p. …