Yorùbá Music in the Twentieth Century

December 2012
28 black and white, 86 line illustrations
296 pages
9x6 in
Eastman/Rochester Studies Ethnomusicology
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MUS020000, MUS024000, MUS015000

Yorùbá Music in the Twentieth Century

Identity, Agency, and Performance Practice

Bode Omojola

Drawing on extensive field research conducted over the course of two decades, Bode Omojola examines traditional and contemporary Yorùbá genres of music.
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, w 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 impactianity 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.

Awarded honorable mention in the 2014 Kwabena Nketia Book Competition of the African Music Section of the Society for Ethnomusicology.

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

Table of Contents

Yorùbá Drumming: Performance Practice and the Politics of Identity
Talking and Stammering: Toward an Analysis of Yorùbá Drumming
Songs of the King's Wives: Gendered and Social Identities inYorùbá Vocal Performance
The Aírégbé Song Tradition of Yorùbá Female Chiefs
Yorùbá Music in the Christian Liturgy: Notation, Performance,and Identity
Yorùbá Music in Christian Worship: The Aládurà Church
Yorùbá Popular Music: Hybridity, Identity, and Power
Yorùbá Islamic Popular Music
A: Fieldwork
B: Accompanying Compact Disc Track List


While most books on Yorùbá music focus on a single genre or instrument and betray either a musicological or anthropological bent, Omojola skilfully weaves together a broad range of musical topics, grounding each in rich ethnographic detail and rigorous musical analysis. . . The author's crisp musical analyses and rich ethnographic descriptions give his theoretical arguments a satisfying concreteness. It is this same characteristic that makes the book thoroughly teachable, full of detailed examples ready for comparison with other world traditions. I would highly recommend it for advanced courses in ethnomusicology and musicology, as well for specialists in African music, literature, and history. --Jesse Ruskin [2014 YEARBOOK FOR TRADITIONAL MUSIC] 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 . . . 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 some of the topics are highly specialized, Omojola's book is broadly accessible and makes valuable contributions to scholarship on identity and African music. CAHIERS D'ÉTUDES AFRICAINES [N]o 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. A well-written, well-researched book of interest to a wide readership. --David Locke, Tufts University

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