Research on Music in Nigeria

Music in Community Life

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'Hausa Performing Arts' co-authored by Yusef Lateef and Ziky O. Kofoworola

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Dr. Yusef Lateef playing Algourdaphone double-reed instrument
Dr. Yusef Lateef playing Algourdaphone double-reed instrument

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Instruments that were created by Dr. Yusef Lateef
Instruments that were created by Dr. Yusef Lateef

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Sarewa Fingering Chart by Dr. Yusef Lateef
Sarewa Fingering Chart by Dr. Yusef Lateef

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Instruments that were created by Dr. Yusef Lateef
Instruments that were created by Dr. Yusef Lateef

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Algourdaphone double-reed instrument created by Dr. Yusef Lateef
Algourdaphone double-reed instrument created by Dr. Yusef Lateef
Yusef Lateef in Nigeria
Yusef Lateef in Nigeria
As I see it, the indigenous music, in the community life of Northern Nigeria, perhaps in much or all of Africa, is an expression of the people's experience, values and desires. This expression reflects and reveals human abilities at a high and a unique level such as the invention of original musical instruments such as the sarewa, algaita, kakaki, ojah, ifiom, ododo, tallabe, gangan-noma, duman-girke, kuge, goge. kukuma, garaya, kwarya, gurmi, kuntuku, kalangu, kidan-ruwa, bare-bari, gangan tivi, etcetera.

The artistic application of each of the above instruments, and others, are presented in compositions which are laden with far-reaching significance. Each musical composition possesses its own structure, its own tonal equilibrium, even its own moral climate. The painstaking honesty, the craftsmanly exactitude of each work raises it to the heights of abstract thought and at the same time to that austerity, economy of means, and essential authenticity which characterize the true laying bare of a soul.

Music in community life invites us to move into the aesthetic world that is the counterpart to the world of sight-sound. The mastery of musical expression in community life finds an explanation which will be a valuable contribution to a deeper understanding of the music of Africa. To know this music — to feel it, to love it — does not necessarily require a knowledge of the inner processes that activates its creators. But when they themselves take the trouble to share with us this inner work, following its various stages we can then gauge how important such a revelation can be when it is based upon absolute sincerity and intellectual integrity.

During the course of this book (which is the culmination of the author's function as a Senior Research Fellow in the Nigerian Music section of the Centre for Nigerian Cultural Studies) this writer presents his findings by citing concrete examples which he views, highly individual but always consistent with his way of looking at things. And each example will serve as a vehicle for considerations more general and of wider horizon, where the frequently hidden entities that have led us to the appreciation of African music and musicianship will then actually bring us face to face with the Nigerian musician's conception of the problems of artistic creation, as well as of problems that touch upon style, training, philosophy of music, taste and the performance of music.

(The above is the introduction to "Hausa Performing Arts and Music" co-authored by Yusef Lateef and Ziky O. Kofoworola)