African music is a broad and varied genre that includes a variety of musical traditions and genres from the many nations and cultures that make up the African continent. There are literally thousands of different genres of African music, each with its own specific musical traits, historical background, and cultural setting.
A traditional oral history genre that is passed down through the generations, West African griot music is one of the most well-known and significant genres of African music. The use of percussion instruments like djembes and congas as well as an emphasis on oral tradition and storytelling are two characteristics that commonly define griot music.
South African Township music, a fusion of African and Western musical forms that emerged in South Africa's townships during the 20th century, is another well-known genre of African music. The employment of electric instruments, such as electric guitars and keyboards, and the blending of traditional African rhythms with jazz, funk, and rock components are two characteristics that most often define township music.
Other notable forms of African music include Sudanese taarab, a refined and highly ornamented style that combines Arabic and African musical traditions, Congolese soukous, a fast-paced, dance-oriented style from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghanaian highlife, an upbeat and energetic genre that combines traditional African rhythms with elements of jazz and brass music, and Congolese soukous.
There is no denying the rich and varied cultural past that underpins this vibrant and engaging musical genre, regardless of the style of African music one is interested in. African music offers something for listeners of all ages and musical inclinations, whether it is the classic rhythms of griot music, the electric sounds of township music, or the refined melodies of taarab. What's your favorite?