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Yorùbá Music in the Twentieth Century


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From the primeval age of Ayànàgalú (the Yorùbá pioneer-drummer-turned-deity-of-drumming) to the modern era, Yorùbá musical traditions have been shaped by individual performers: drummers, dancers, singers, and chanters, who express self-mediated visions of their social and cultural environment. Yorùbá Music in the Twentieth Century explores the role of the performer and the performing group in creating these traditions, contributing to the ongoing reorientation of scholarship on African music toward individual creativity within a larger social network.

Drawing on extensive field research conducted over the course of two decades, Bode Omojola examines traditional Yorùbá genres such as bàtá and dùndún drumming as well as more contemporary genres such as Yorùbá popular music. The book also addresses a spectrum of social issues, ranging from gender inequality to the impact of Christianity and Islam on Yorùbá musical practice. Throughout, Omojola emphasizes the interrelatedness of the different components of the Yorùbá musical landscape, as well as the role of specific individuals and groups of musicians, who have continued to draw from indigenous Yorùbá musical resources to create new musical forms in the process of engaging the social dynamics of a rapidly changing environment.

Bode Omojola is a Five College Associate Professor of Music at Mt. Holyoke College.


The introduction situates the concept of a pan-Yoruban identity in its historical context, outlines previous research on Yoruba music, and spells out Omojola's theoretical and methodological orientation. This includes a brief discussion of his position as a native Yoruban researcher, and how he views himself as both insider and outsider in relation to the music he is studying....Using a multi-disciplinary methodology that includes musical transcription and analysis, ethnographic field-work, historical research and biography, Omojola's book paints an expansive picture of modern Yoruban musical culture that acknowledges the role of individual as well as group agency. .. [I]ts content offers music scholars of all genres insight into a number of globally relevant issues in music research today,and it contributes to the growing body of knowledge surrounding music in globalized, contemporary contexts. Omojola's ability to balance musical information obtained through transcription and analysis with ethnographic data is to be applauded, and serves as an example of the benefits of including information gleaned from both perspectives. WORLD OF MUSIC

Very detailed, reflecting the author's two decades of research...Omojola's writing style is clear, concise, and thoroughly engaging...Highly recommended. CHOICE

A unique and refreshing take on the study of Yorùbá music, grounding a wide range of Yorùbá musical genres in Nigerian history as well as in the experiences of specific ensembles and artists...The sheer scope and goals of this project make it exciting. LEEDS AFRICAN STUDIES BULLETIN

While there are many books addressing one facet or another of Yorùbá music, no other book covers the variety of genres and idioms discussed in Yorùbá Music in the Twentieth Century. Professor Omojola's tactical choice of topics yields an in-depth yet broad treatment of the entire field of Yorùbá music. After a sophisticated discussion of "identity" in the introduction, each chapter provides detailed, culturally insightful coverage of a different facet of this important musical tradition. A well-written, well-researched book of interest to a wide readership. --David Locke, Music Department, Tufts University

Bode Omojola's survey of contemporary Yoruba music is ambitious combination of musical traditions, musical styles, and individual musicians and performances. ANTHROPOLOGY REVIEW DATABASE


First Published: 01 Dec 2012
13 Digit ISBN: 9781580464093
Pages: 296
Size: 9 x 6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: University of Rochester Press
Series: Eastman/Rochester Studies Ethnomusicology
Subject: Music
BIC Class: AV

Details updated on 01 Mar 2015


  • 1  Yorùbá Drumming: Performance Practice and the Politics of Identity
  • 2  Talking and Stammering: Toward an Analysis of Yorùbá Drumming
  • 3  Songs of the King's Wives: Gendered and Social Identities inYorùbá Vocal Performance
  • 4  The Aírégbé Song Tradition of Yorùbá Female Chiefs
  • 5  Yorùbá Music in the Christian Liturgy: Notation, Performance,and Identity
  • 6  Yorùbá Music in Christian Worship: The Aládurà Church
  • 7  Yorùbá Popular Music: Hybridity, Identity, and Power
  • 8  Yorùbá Islamic Popular Music
  • 9  Conclusion
  • 10  Appendixes
  • 11  A: Fieldwork
  • 12  B: Accompanying Compact Disc Track List

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