Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

Echoes of Orality in Christian Xhosa Songs

Academic journal article Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies

Echoes of Orality in Christian Xhosa Songs

Article excerpt


This article is an attempt to investigate and explore certain patterns in traditional Christian Xhosa songs as found in Xhosa music. The corpus of contemporary Xhosa music is vast, and difficult to explore properly without recognising the patterns of traditional music. In order to recognise these patterns Xhosa music in general will be discussed first--Xhosa music also as a form of art. Having done that, it will try to uncover certain elements of traditional songs in Christian Xhosa music. A comparative approach will be used to reveal the similarities between traditional and Christian songs. To compare certain aspects in a literary work does not imply attaching more significance to one element than to another. This method rather implies a way of looking beyond narrow boundaries, and to explore other spheres of human activities.


Eggo's van oraliteit in Christelike Xhosa-liedere

Hierdie artikel is 'n poging om sekere patrone wat in tradisionele Christelike Xhosa-liedere en Xhosa-musiek aangetref word, te ondersoek en te verken. Die korpus hedendaagse Xhosa-musiek is omvangryk en moeilik om behoorlik te ondersoek sonder om kennis te neem van die patrone wat in tradisionele musiek aangetref word. Ten einde hierdie patrone te kan uitken, sal die soeklig aanvanklik val op Xhosa-musiek in die algemeen en sal dit ook as kunsvorm bespreek word. Daama sal daar gepoog word om die elemente van tradisionele liedere in Christelike Xhosa-musiek bloot te le. 'n Vergelykende benadering sal gebruik word om die ooreenkomste tussen tradisionele en Christelike liedere aan te toon. 'n Vergelyking tussen sekere aspekte van literere werke bring nie noodwendig mee dat die een teen die ander afgespeel word nie--dit is eerder 'n manier om buite eng begrensings te kyk en om ander gebiede van menslike aktiwiteit te ondersoek.

1. Introduction

With regard to the concept music Hamm (1975:1) says there are many types of music in the world, and these types of music differ just like the cultures in which they are found. The individuality and uniqueness of a form of music may be traced to many things such as the composer and the society that gave birth to it. The acoustic material used to perform the music, and the specific manner in which it is performed are of great importance. The nature of music can also change over time as a result of social, political and religious factors. The interplay between African and European traditions, for example, sometimes results in the use of Western instruments such as concertinas and guitars when African traditional songs are sung. This kind of performance is commonplace today. Hamm (1975:104) further states that African Americans have lost their original music through the break-up of their tribal groups and the Westernised environment in which they live.

The nature of Xhosa music also varies very much today because of dramatic socio-political changes among the Xhosa people. The nature of Xhosa music varies because modern theatres and marketing organisations operate according to specifications laid down relating to the promotion of any branch of music. Xhosa traditional music has never been actively promoted through marketing, because it is meant to entertain the community, and has never been intended for commercial purposes. Although Xhosa music varies even in itself, the quality of beauty and purpose remain. in this respect Xhosa traditional music can be regarded as having been modified in order to suit certain situations.

Xhosa traditional music was never meant to be performed indoors, but today it is performed in both in-door and out-door environments. Xhosa traditional music, as an art form, was meant to entertain society at large (at a time when there were no halls to accommodate large audiences). This is therefore one of the reasons why performances among the amaXhosa often took place in the open air. According to Somniso (2002:119) nowadays some music is exclusively sung in churches and schools--also by the amaXhosa. …

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