Culture in Music

People write songs to express their feelings at that particular moment and address critical issues in life through music. Let me tell you that we have different types of music for specific occasions in South Africa. We have certain songs we sing at weddings, funerals, and parties. (etc)

Nikki reminded me of the beauty of cultural sound in one of her posts last week https://humanityboss.wordpress.com/2021/06/22/african-musica/. She said whenever she listens to the beats, her bones want to say ‘ayeboo’ (an expression of joy), hence why I decided to dive a little bit into expressions in cultural sound.

Some genres that originate in South Africa include Qhom, Kwaito, and Amapiano. Although jazz did not originate in SA, musicians like Hugh Masekela, Mirriam Makeba, and Judith Sephuma gave jazz more meaning and a South African feel. These are jazz musicians who have taken jazz and made it a unique sound to fit the African beat.

Wedding songs are quite popular, especially in the Limpopo province. We have artists who specifically focus on wedding songs alone. The late Brenda Fassie set the bar high with some of her wedding songs like a Wedding day. Other artists recently came up with more wedding songs. Although they may not have reached her level, they also have come in with popular wedding songs that we enjoy. Some people use these songs to dance along as groups at weddings. The group will be wearing traditional attires while dancing in the same style in the same direction. The groups usually have either teenagers, youth, or older women. And generally, aged women use it as a form of entertainment and to express their joy. My aunt has joined one of the dancing groups in the villages. She enjoys the dances, as she usually teaches us some of the moves in the group during family gatherings. She found something exciting to look forward to on weekends. It could either be for practice or there’s a wedding somewhere in the neighborhood. That alone she enjoys.

Sepedi Cultural Dance. Unsplash photo

War cries are more heartwarming, soul-stirring, and somewhat emotionally uplifting when faced with great adversity and more intimidating when in your face when feeling excited.

~Lebogang

We, South Africans, are quite fond of war cries. During sporting games, we do not just leave the competition to the players, we are quite big on creating war cries on sports fields. Cheerleaders would be on the side with war cries for encouragement. Others would be playing in the field, while others sing war cries.

Bafana Bafana ayobaness

Many schools in South Africa have developed war cries and it has become a big trend. Some time back there was a video of the school’s war cry which went viral on social media, of enthusiastic rendition of the popular song “All the way Up” by pupils in St David’s Marit Inanda in Sandton. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.iol.co.za/amp/saturday-star/news/video-joburg-schools-war-cry-goes-viral-24667729. In the video the student’s dances and chant lyrics from the song “Nothing can stop me, I’m up”.
It is said that the boys practice the war cry regularly at school. The motive behind the war cry is to build the spirit of tradition and to have it on the school premises in the most disciplined environment. “Warcries are about having something relevant to the boys in a modern context and ramping up the school vibe and hype”, Sheree Bega said in the article.

St David’s Marist Inanda School in Joburg

So big that even soldiers use war cries during the war. They are unique because they are not just intimidating songs, but there are times where they are emotional. And the emotional part serves to bring a homey feeling to soldiers who are far away from home. The point of the song to be emotional is to uplift and encourage them emotionally. There are times where even the same soldiers will use far more intimidating songs, at this stage, it would be because they are getting themselves ready for battle.

Istock photo : South African Soldiers

Choral music is an activity that is taken seriously especially in schools. It plays a vital role, as they use choirs to mainly raise funds. And for getting recognition for schools, winning competitions, and entertainment. The first time I joined a choir was in my primary school where I sang alto, and that was the last time I joined a choir. My vocals got another taste of singing at a church choir. At least this time was enjoyable because the end goal was not to win the competition, but it was as a form of worship to God. It is advantageous to sing in a choir because you can hide behind other people’s voices if you are not quite good at singing like me. We pride ourselves on choirs like the Stellenbotch University choir that has topped a global list of over 1000 choirs, to be named the best choir in the world. The choir is viewed as a leading South African choral ensemble and has toured overseas extensively where it won critical acclaim for its performances. We also have the Soweto Gospel Choir and Ladysmith Black Mambazo which have both traveled across the world for their performances.

Stellenbotch University Choir, an ensemble of approximately 80-100 voices, has won international acclaim through performances, concert tours, and participation in prestigious festivals and competitions.
Soweto Gospel Choir was celebrates the unique and inspirational power of African Gospel music. The choir draws on the best talent from the many churches in and around Soweto. The choir is dedicated to sharing the joy of faith through music with audiences around the world.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
South African male choral group singing in the local vocal styles of ‘Isicathamiya’ and ‘Mbube’. They are known internationally and have won multiple awards, including five Grammy Awards, dedicating their fifth Grammy to the late former President Nelson Mandela. The group became a mobile academy Of South African cultural heritage through their African indigenous ‘Isicathamiya’ music.

We have great TV shows like Imizwilili that focus mainly On Choral music. This is a local choral music show that entertains and informs viewers by presenting choral groups freshly and excitingly. The show’s content segments include live recordings of choral renditions; interviews with role players such as composers and performers; capturing choral events and festivals. https://www.sabc1.co.za/sabc1/tv-show/imizwilili/.

We are sure to see the diversity in cultural music. From wedding songs, war cries, and choir groups to TV shows which profile the cultural events and festivals. We can say that we are proud of all south African cultural songwriters and Africa as a whole.”Music is therapy. Music moves people. It connects people in ways that no other medium can. It pulls heartstrings. It acts as medicine.” – Macklemore.

Please share with me in the comments section the variety of choirs in your country about culture. How do they express themselves through music? What about the war cries?.. Let me hear the types of war cries you sing in your country. What other cultural sounds or groups have you heard from South Africa which I have not mentioned?

Please continue to check out some of my other posts written recently.

Let’s meet again tomorrow. It’s our last week of the WinterABC2021 challenge. The theme is Storytelling. It will be my first time trying out fictional story. Let’s see what ill come up with.

From my heart to yours

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