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further investigations found much more intermingling of intervals than previously
suspected.56 It is interesting that the interval of the tritone (augmented fourth or
diminished fifth) is a salient feature in both vocal and instrumental music throughout
Africa. It is also an important interval in African-American blues and “jazz” music.
Africans have developed systems of classification of songs. The Bahutu of Ruanda
(Burundi) have at least twenty-four different types of social songs. There are songs
played by professional musicians for entertainment, songs for harvesting and other
work songs, war songs, beer drinking songs, songs commemorating the birth of children, songs admonishing erring members of the society, songs deriding Europeans,
vulgar songs, etc. Social songs are separated from ceremonial or religious songs. The
Bahutus have other songs associated with paddling against a strong current, paddling
with the current, etc.
Examples of music for political purposes include the elaborate fanfares of the
Hausa of Nigeria and the elaborate classification of musical genres (according to
levels of political leadership) among the Venda of South Africa. Songs are likewise
used to spread information on current events of interest, to diffuse gossip, and to
perpetuate knowledge. The accompanying rhythms of work songs coordinate tedious
group work, making the task easier. The Watusi, also of Ruanda (Burundi), whose
lives are centered on their cattle, have songs for herding cattle home in the evening,
songs of praise of cows, songs for drawing water for cattle, etc.
A vivid cultural dichotomy has resulted from the intermingling of Sub-Saharan
Africans with Western and Eastern civilizations. The result has been, on the one
hand, a vanishing of traditional music and, on the other, the appearance of a nucleus
of art and “city” music. Notated examples and recorded evidence of traditional music
collected before 1950 are relatively sparse, which greatly limits any historical overview
of African music. Some interpretive evidence begins with recorded examples such as
those supplied by the Czekanowski Central African Expedition of 1907–8. Other historical portraits may be reconstructed through the early musical legacies supplied by
the highly biased records of early contacts with other musical cultures. Such evidence
mentions several instruments of Malagasy, including an idiochordic tube zither tuned
in thirds (valiha) and a free-log thigh-supported xylophone of Malayan origin, dated
from the Malayo-Polynesian migrations (circa 2000 b.c. to circa a.d. 500) to Malagasy
and the African mainland. Central African xylophone tuning strongly resembles (but
is not necessarily derived from) some “ideal” isotonic tuning of the Far East (e.g., the
five-step Indonesian slendro and the seven-step isotonic scale of Thailand).57
In particular, African rhythmic ties with the Middle East and India may be even
stronger than those with the Far East. Such ties may have eventually been defined
through early migrations and invasions of ancient Egypt south of the Sudan, through
the South Indian trade on the East African coast during the third and second centuries
40 • Bigotry and the Afrocentric “Jazz” Evolution