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International Music

Resources for research and listening for folk and popular music from around the world.

Research Sources for African Music

Scholarly Encyclopedias

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music

  • Online:  Music Online: The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music  (Log in required from off campus)
  • Reference:    ML 100 .G16 1998, vol. 1  (Africa)
  • CDs:  Compact Disc 4713

Grove Music Online, via Oxford Music Online  (Log in required from off campus)

New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd edition (Music Reference)

  • ML 100 .N48 2001 vols. 1 - 29


Popular Music in Africa

African musicians have merged African musical styles with several from the Americas.  Worldbeat is the global term for the fusion of styles from disparate traditions, but much of the "Worldbeat" sounds are of African origins.


Music is the Weapon of the Future: Fifty Years of African Popular Music, by Frank Tanaille.
ML3502.9 .T4613 2002


  One major branch is Afro-Beat, which fuses jazz and African music.  Saxophonist Fela Kuti is credited with starting it.  He is the subject of the recent musical theatre production, Fela!  His eldest son, Femi Kuti, continued the tradition.  Hugh Masekela is another African jazz musician, whose best-known song is "Grazing in the Grass."


Gospel music, which originated as an African-American art form in the United States, has become popular in Africa as well.  The Soweto Gospel Choir is one group with an international following:
South Africa is home to many styles and stars.  It has crowned  Brenda Fassie, "Africa's Queen of Pop" and a reggae tradition has grown there, championed most notably by Lucky Dube.  The Zulu group Ladysmith Black Mambazo became famous in the United States after collaborating with American artist Paul Simon on his album, Graceland.


Artists from all over Africa have adopted rap as a form of musical expression.

Cameroon's Manu Dibango has explored many different styles throughout his career.

For more about popular music of Africa, search Popular Music -- Africa as a subject in OneSearch.


Selected Videos

DVDs available from the Educational Technology & Resources counter:

Films Available through (log in required from off campus)

Siaka: An African Musician

Siaka Diabate is a musician at Bouake, the second largest town in the Cote d'Ivoire. Through his mother's family he is Senufo, but through his father's ancestry he considers himself a Mande griot. He is a multi-talented professional musician, and for the local festivals plays five instruments: the Senufo and Maninka balafons, the kora harp, the dundun drum and the electric guitar. This film shows Siaka playing in the group led by Soungalo Coulibaly before his death in 2004, including the use of jembe drums, which we also see being made.

An African Brass Band: Traditional Music from the Coite d'Ivorie

At the beginning of the 20th century in Jacqueville, near Abidjan in the Cote d'Ivoire, traditional music was forbidden by the missionaries. But the inhabitants' enjoyment of their local festivals proved stronger, and the little town developed its own brass band.

This is the story of that brass band, a brass band that isn't at all like a military band. It's a dancing brass band, an African brass band, that accompanies all the big and little moments of life.

Masters of the Balafon series

Four films by Hugo Zemp, about the balafon, a xylophone with calabash resonators, of the Senufo people of Northern Coite d'Ivoire.

Bitter Melons

A film shot in 1955 about the song, "Bitter Melons," sung by a member of the /Gwi San people of the Kalahari Desert.

African Underground: Democracy in Dakar

The film follows rappers, DJs, journalists, professors and people on the street at the time before, during and after the controversial 2007 presidential election in Senegal and examines hip-hops role on the political process.