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By John Collins

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Extra resources for African Musical Symbolism In Contemporary Perspective: Roots, Rhythms and Relativity

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Sometimes African musicians employ devices that exaggerate the inference effect in order to create vibrations that are aesthetically pleasing to them, or believe these put them and their instruments into special touch with the spiritual world. One is the mbira hand-piano of Shona diviners, which is given an extra vibrational buzzing quality by small pieces of metal being loosely attached to it that are believed to create the actual voice of the ancestors or Soul of the Mbira30. Another African Here we are not treating a gestalt as a product of a single figure/ground or sound/silence relationship, as depicted in the earlier faces and vase diagram, but rather a polyvalent product of multiple figure/grounds.

In this musical case the tensions are rhythmic stresses and strains, the non contacting bodies are the various percussive pulses and the geometry is the rhythmic space or “swing” that separates these various pulses. 47 Figure 15: Expanded portion of the kidi rhythm to show the potential “swing” in the offbeat rhythmic field The internal leeway or latitude depicted in the above Figure not only allows room for the pulses (“L”) to “swing” in within the individual sub-rhythm, but also has an overall combinational effect on other sub-rhythms.

The odonno squeeze-drum and apentemma rhythms of the adowa are complementary and exactly fit into each other’s intervals, whilst the petia and apentemma drums partially dart in and out of each other’s gaps. In the case of the agbadza the complimentary nature of the up and down-strokes of the agbadza axatse (maracas) rhythm has already been considered. There is also a rhythmic conversation going on between the dancers’ feet and the kagan’s open low notes. Then the sogo drum pattern of the agbadza begins on interval ten, exactly where the first group of kidi open low notes ends.

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