Here's an exciting new resource for anyone interested in African music and culture. Songs of West Africa by Dan Gorlin contains over 80 traditional African folk songs and chants in 6 languages along with extensive translations, annotations and performance notes. It may be the most complete collection of African songs ever published.
The book highlights traditional songs from the Anlo-Ewe, Lobi, Ga-Adangbe, Egu, Foh, and related ethnic groups from Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria. There are sacred songs from Afa, Agzogbo, Gadzo, and Yewe traditions. Also major secular and historical music including Agbekor, Kinka, Atsia, Gahu, Takada, and more.
Many of the songs are simple to learn, and can be easily taught to grade school students or adapted to other styles of music. But the scope of this book goes far beyond children's songs. Each song is explained in terms of cultural context, and translated in a way that helps you form your own interpretation of its meaning. You'll discover that singing the songs of Africa is a superb way to learn about her people, culture, and history -- and it's fun!
The contents of this book & CD are now downloadable for free! See the end of this page.
The text includes music fundamentals, a pronunciation guide, and useful introductions to West African society, sensibility, and spirituality. Using the companion audio CD (included) you learn by singing along like young Africans do - or just listen and enjoy. The CD was studio-recorded especially for this book, so vocals and harmonies are easily heard over the supporting drums.
"A terrific resource on African music. Dan Gorlin¹s opening chapters on African music and culture are well written, informative, accurate and full of excellent advice for performers. At the heart of the book are lyrics from a wonderful collection of songs that are carefully linked to excellent performances on the great sounding CD. The song texts are sensitively translated and their meaning is well explained. I highly recommend this book/CD set to everyone interested in African music."
-- David Locke, Tufts University, director
of Agbekor Drum & Dance Society,
"A truly wonderful resource...and I know from my own work with Abraham Adzenyah, Freeman Kwadzo Donkor and Maxwell Amoh how much went into creating it (including the lengthy conversations that gave you such insight into the tradition). Bravo!"
-- Judith Cook Tucker, Founder & Publisher
of World Music Press,
"Dan Gorlin's Songs of West Africa is a welcome and timely addition to the written and audio repertoire. As African music has gained in popularity, it has often thinned out in depth. This book and CD set brings many of the most important elements of this art form into focus for the reader. Beautifully laid out and easy to follow, this collection will inspire those already involved in West African music and provide newcomers with a coherent and substantial introduction to this wonderful repertoire of songs. Gorlin's clear presentation is obviously steeped in rich experience and we can imagine the creative community around him that must exist for a publication of this quality to be made. Its scholarly integrity and general accessibility make it suitable for educators, researchers and performers alike."
-- Kathy Armstrong, Co-Founder & Artistic Director of Baobab Tree
Drum*Dance*Community, Ottawa, Canada
Individual Song Samples
Learn more about Songs of West Africa by browsing the samples below. For help reading PDF or playing MP3 files, click here.
Full Songbook Text and CD Audio Online
Print it, copy it, perform it, link to it, use it in the classroom, no worries. Just provide attribution where appropriate and don't try to resell it or say you wrote it or make money off of it without getting permission or our international team of high-priced celebrity lawyers with perfect hair will turn you and your relatives into catfood.
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