African Music, Religion,
The objective of African music is ... to translate every-
day experiences into living sound ... to depict life, na-
ture, or the supernatural.
We cannot love that which we do not know.
In spite of the quite apparent importance of African religion to the understanding of African ritual and its musical derivatives, music scholars have neglected to pay significant attention to it. The reasons, I suppose, are several, including the fact, perception, or assumption that the myths and legends of ritual are not compatible with the positivistic element in musicological scholarship and the assumption that, since African cultures are many and diverse, there is no single concept of African religion, and thus a study of them all would not be productive. Within the framework of the mode of inquiry presented in this book, however, familiarity with African religious practices is essential. The best source of this knowledge appears to be the work of John S. Mbiti ( 1990), on whose formulations the discussion in this chapter will largely rely.
Mbiti's descriptive, comparative, and interpretive approach to the study of African religion brings together in one conceptual framework the diverse be