For many Indigenous communities around the globe, music is an essential part of the village's daily life as well as the main protagonist during celebrations of spiritual, cultural, and kinship rituals.
Science proved that music helps the brain dealing with pain reduction, stress relief, memory, and brain injuries. It can have a powerful effect on our mood and can change our perceptions of the world and our situations.
Almost all of the known Indigenous populations have found the need to play music and create sounds; and, contemporary instruments like drums, flutes, and rattles differ depending on the continent and are all legacy of traditional music. Usually, chants or songs are passed from generation to generation, and many current songs contain the same tunes that were played thousands of years ago. More recently, new musical movements are trying to combine contemporary music styles like pop, rock, country, and hip-hop with traditional music, also incorporating other cultural aspects like traditional languages.
The assortment of music influences and movements varies, and it is impossible to examine all the musical traditions and groups. However, we will be looking at a few current contemporary indigenous music groups examples, considering different countries!
NIGER - Tuareg Music Becomes Electric
In the Tuareg tradition, the ownership of songs and poems is collective. While performers always recognize the original songwriter, they are free to embellish and add verses to the song or poem. This way, poems, and songs document the past, but they are also a living history, which grows and changes with the experiences lived by the Tuareg. This collection of oral history is a rich source for the study of Tuareg culture and identity. One of the leading exponents of contemporary Tuareg music is Bombino, a pseudonym for Goumar Almoctar, a Nigerian guitarist and composer of the Tuareg ethnic group. Inspired by popular music from his homeland and by some rock legends like Jimi Hendrix and Mark Knopfler, he started his career as a very young musician, and today he is an internationally recognized artist. Check out one of his impressive live performance.
NIGERIA - Afrobeat: a combination of influences
Afrobeat is a genre of pop music born in West Africa in the second half of the 1960s and became particularly popular in the 1980s. It combines elements of traditional Yoruba (one of the main Nigerian tribes) music, jazz, funk, and other styles. The greatest exponent of the afrobeat was the Nigerian multi-instrumentalist, Fela Kuti. Among the other exponents, Femi Kuti, Tony Allen, and Antibalas. Here a performance by Tony Allen, great contemporary musician, died in April 2020.
ITALY - The beauty of mixing music traditional cultures
Piazza Vittorio Orchestra
A stunning example of a multicultural orchestra in which ancient, indigenous cultures come together to create a "unique" is the Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio. The Orchestra was born in 2002 on the drive of artists, intellectuals, and cultural operators with the desire to enhance the homonymous Piazza dell' Esquilino in Rome, par excellence the multi-ethnic district of the city. Since then, the Orchestra has presented a different reality that finds its reason in the mixture of textual and musical languages, strongly believing that mixing culture produces beauty. This is an effort to keep different continents together, with their culture, their sounds, and their history. From 2002 to today, over 100 musicians from different geographic areas and very different musical fields have met, creating creative and professional projects. Lull yourself by this mixture of sounds
SOUTH AFRICA - The joy of Xhosa music
Xhosa musicians in Cape Town
Xhosa tribe is one of the main tribes in South Africa. There are many Xhosa clans, each with their styles of drums and dialects. The Xhosa music is characteristically expressive and communicative, including the rhythmic expression of words and sounds as well as physical movement employed when cheering, dancing, or playing a musical instrument. Traditional Xhosa music has been adapted in a contemporary way and made famous throughout the world by Miriam Makeba. Born in Johannesburg, her mother was a Swazi ethnic Sangoma and her father, a Xhosa. He began singing on a professional level in the fifties, with the Manhattan Brothers group, and then founded his band, The Skylarks, which combined jazz and traditional South African music. Needs an injection of joy? Listen to the Pata Pata song. The song was a burst of gloriously defiant revelry even in times of hardship and oppression.
CANADA: The perfect blend of past and present
First Nations music Canada
In Canada, the music group A Tribe Called Red blends instrumental hip hop, reggae, moombahton and dubstep-influenced dance music with elements of First Nations music, particularly vocal chanting and drumming. They started to experiment with electronic music, and they also include poetry, storytelling, and collaborations with other Indigenous peoples, being activists for Indigenous rights.
MONGOLIA: Pump it up with throat singing and dream of adventures
Mongolian Music The HU
Mongolian throat singing tradition can be traced back to many centuries ago; however, in current Mongolia, a very well-known group has incorporated this particular singing technique to their metal repertoire. The Hu musical group decided to keep the Mongolian traditional culture while adapting to new influences and maintaining their music style, and today their music videos have millions of views from all over the world.
PERU: New perspectives to honor cultural heritage
Peruvian man playing a flute
Renata Flores is a young musician from the Quechan Peruvian community. At only 19 years old, she decided to debut in the music industry singing in Quechua, the language of her ancestors. She combines Latin trap, rap, and reggaeton with her indigenous heritage. She sings about indigenous rights, female power, and she stands with her political views criticizing wars and corruption. She is considered a pioneer in Quechua contemporary music.
NOMADIC TRIBE TEAM
Cover photo Touareg Music Credit:Tinariwen