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Theory of African Music, Volume II

Erudite and exhaustive, Gerhard Kubik’s Theory of African Music provides an authoritative account of its subject. Over the course of two volumes, Kubik, one of the most prominent experts in the field, draws on his extensive travels and three decades of study throughout Africa to compare and contrast a wealth of musical traditions from a range of cultures.

In this second volume, Kubik explores a variety of topics, including Yoruba chantefables, the musical Kachamba family of Malawˆ i, and the cognitive study of African rhythm. Drawing on his remarkable ability to make cross-cultural comparisons, Kubik illuminates every facet of the African understanding of rhythm, from timing systems to elementary pulsation. His analysis of tusona ideographs in Luchazi culture leads to an exploration of African space/time concepts that synthesizes his theories of art, rhythm, and culture.

Featuring a large number of photographs and accompanied by a compact disc of Kubik’s own recordings, Theory of African Music, Volume II, will be an invaluable reference for years to come.

368 pages | 60 halftones, 32 line drawings, 35 figures | 8 1/4 x 5 5/16 | © 2010

Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology

African Studies

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Music: Ethnomusicology


“Gerhard Kubik’s scholarship is deep and vast, and this collection of his writing has no parallel. He stands alone among Africanists for many reasons, which are amply demonstrated in these volumes: the length of time in which he has been actively researching and writing about music, the vast geographic breadth of his work within Africa, his experience in both Anglophone and Francophone Africa, and his seamless understanding of and sympathy for both older genres and more recent guitar music.”

Eric Charry, Wesleyan University

Theory of African Music is monumental and falls into the ‘must read’ category for (ethno)musicologists, most particularly Africanists. Beyond the enormous quantity of information, data, and analytical approaches, the overwhelming strength of these volumes is Kubik’s lateral savvy. His breadth of knowledge and depth of understanding is unequalled in African music scholarship. Kubik also leaves a legacy of fascinating yet unexplained ‘musical riddles’ to stimulate our curiosity (Vol. I, 15–19). How is it that the multipart singing of the Baule in The Ivory Coast employs the same tonal system of triads within an equiheptatonic scale as the Ngangela, Chokwe, and Luvale in Angola? How can one explain the almost identical xylophones and performance practices among the Makonde and Makua in northern Mozambique and the Baule and Kru in The Ivory Coast and Liberia? And why do almost all sub-Saharan Africans dance in counterclockwise processions? Kubik may have left these riddles to others, though we look forward to his future publications with anticipation.”


Table of Contents

Author’s Preface to Volumes I and II  

VI.     The Cognitive Study of African Musical “Rhythm”  

VII.    African Music and Auditory Perception  

VIII.   Àl—Yoruba Chantefables: An Integrated Approach towards West African Music and Oral Literature  

IX.    Genealogy of a Malawian Musician Family: Daniel J. Kachamba (1947–1987) and His Associates  

X.     African Space/Time Concepts and the Tusona Ideographs in Luchazi Culture  

Further Recommended Readings  

List of Musical Examples on CD II  

Indexes for Volumes I and II

Index of Artists and Authors  

Index of African Ethnic-Linguistic Designations  

Index of Song Titles  

General Index  

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