STARTER ACTIVITY
Listen to the track ‘Yiri’ by Koko:
Where
do you think the music comes from and why?
What
instrumentation is used in the piece?
What
do these keywords mean?
IMPROVISATION
CALL & RESPONSE
CROSS-RHYTHMS
POLYPHONIC
OSTINATO
ORAL TRADITION
‘Yiri’
by Koko
Sub-Saharan
African Music
Edexcel Music GCSE
Area of Study 4
KOKO: ‘YIRI’
In the study of this set work you will learn about:

The rich and diverse cultures of sub-Saharan Africa

The social importance of African music

How music is learnt and passed on through the oral tradition

The key common techniques used in African music

Rhythmic and melodic patterns and procedures in African
drumming, balaphone music and choral singing

How the set work ‘Yiri’ is constructed
AFRICAN MUSIC IN SOCIETY

Sub-Saharan African music = rich, diverse and colourful

Covers a range of 50 different nations

Each nation has its own musical traditions and languages

Music plays an important role in African society

Music used to communicate different feelings and
emotions

Music important in social gatherings: weddings, harvest,
birthday, funeral.
AFRICAN MUSIC IN SOCIETY

Music combined with speech, dance and vibrant
costumes = exciting and dramatic performances

‘Yiri’ = strong emphasis on dance

Dancers = vivid costumes, body painting and
elaborate masks

Stories told through body actions and mime
BURKINO FASO: MASKS & DANCE
Video
BURKINA FASO DANCERS
AFRICAN MUSIC
3
main areas:
Drumming
Choral
Song (tribal music)
Instrumental music
AFRICAN MUSIC: COMMON FEATURES
Repetition:
Repeating a section of music. Just a few notes or a whole section.
Improvisation:
Music is made up spontaneously (on-the-spot) without written
notation.
Polyphony:
2 or more independent parts playing different things at the same
time. Multi-layered texture
Call and Response:
Solo (call) followed by a group answering (response) a phrase.
AFRICAN DRUMMING

Drum considered to be most important of all
instruments

Drum = form of communication

Different rhythms mean different things

Hundreds of drums, different in every region
AFRICAN DRUMMING: DJEMBE

DJEMBE is the most common African drum
(single-headed)

Goblet shaped

West Africa
AFRICAN DRUMMING: DUNDUN

Double Headed Drum

Played using sticks
AFRICAN DRUMMING: DONNO
Known as the Talking Drum
 Held under the arm
 Played with the hand

AFRICAN DRUMMING: DIFFERENT SOUNDS

Playing hands on skin of drum – different sounds
when fingers open/closed

Playing hands on wooden edge of drum

Using sticks = sharp, staccato sound

Stretching drum membrane to produce different
pitches (mainly donno)
AFRICAN MUSIC: PERFORMANCE

Oral tradition: no musical notation.

Master drummer directs whole performance
(signals to start often with a vocal cry)

Performs a rhythmic solo to set mood and tempo –
called a cue.

Cueing happens throughout the performance –
creates structure and contrasting sections
AFRICAN MUSIC: PERFORMANCE

Players then come in together and play a response

Response could be the same or different to the Master
Drummer’s rhythm.

Call and response = main feature of tribal music

Other players perform solos when Master Drummer
signals to them

Solos = variations/development of original rhythmic
pattern
AFRICAN MUSIC: PERFORMANCE

Steady continuous beat performed by Master
Drummer = ‘timeline’

Performance can also include percussion rattle
or bells – most common are agogo bells.
AFRICAN MUSIC: PERFORMANCE

Music increases in tension as the piece
progresses

Tempo and dynamics vary from section to section

Master drummer controls change - music must not
become monotonous

Performances can take up to 5 hours
AFRICAN MUSIC: PERFORMANCE TEXTURE

Complex rhythms played by drummers create
polyrhtyhms

Stresses conflict with each other and the
‘timeline’ creating cross-rhythms

Polyrhthmic texture
AFRICAN DRUMMING & PERFORMANCE:
KEYWORDS
IMPROVISATION
POLYPHONIC
CALL & RESPONSE
CROSS-RHYTHMS
OSTINATO
ORAL TRADITION
PLENARY: KEYWORDS RECAP

What is the master drummer responsible for in an African drumming performance?

What is the most common African drum called?

What is another name for the donno drum?

What are the three main strands of African music?

From which African nation does ‘Yiri’ originate from?

What texture is associated with African drumming?

When stresses conflict with each other and the steady constant beat, what type of
rhythms are created?

What 2 main elements vary from section to section in African drumming music?
‘Yiri’
by Koko
Sub-Saharan
African Music
LESSON 2
Edexcel Music GCSE
Area of Study 4
SPEED DATING!

Write down 3 keywords/facts you can
remember about Yiri

Pair up with someone else and think of as
many more keywords/facts that you can
remember

When I say ‘change’ move onto someone else
and think of some more.
AFRICAN MUSIC: CHORAL SINGING

Sub-Saharan Africa = centred around singing

Music serves as a link to the spirit world

African languages = tone languages

Tone languages = pitch level (high or low)
determines meaning of words

Pitches of melodies and rhythms can match
meanings and speech rhythms of words
AFRICAN SONGS: COMMON FEATURES

Basic form = call and response

Short simple, repeated melodies

Melodies = scale of only 4, 5, 6 or 7 tones

Melodies changed and developed during a piece =
theme and variations

Singers improvise new melodies over the original
melody = polyphonic
AFRICAN SONGS: COMMON FEATURES

Music can often be sung in rounds

Musical texture is always changing
Harmony varies from tribe to tribe =
 Unison
 Parallel octaves, with odd fourths or fifths.
 Thirds or fourths in 2 or 3 different parts.
COMPOSITION TASK

Compose a short repeated melody using only 45 notes

Perform the melody with your group as a round.
EXTENSION:
 Add harmonies to your melody (4ths or 5ths)
 Create a vocal performance of your piece
HOMEWORK

Revise what we have learnt so far for a test next
lesson.

11th March
ACTIVITY: WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT SO FAR?

Pass the parcel!
BLUE QUESTIONS: EASY (ONE WORD ANSWERS)
GREEN QUESTIONS: SLIGHTY MORE DIFFICULT
RED QUESTIONS: CHALLENGING (DEFINITIONS
AND HIGHER ORDER ANSWERS)
‘Yiri’
by Koko
Sub-Saharan
African Music
LESSON 3
Edexcel Music GCSE
Area of Study 4
STARTER ACTIVITY

What are the 3 main areas of African music? (3)

Where in Africa does ‘Yiri’ originate from? (1)

What is the name of the main African Drum? (1)

What is the Donno also known as? (1)

Who directs the whole performance in African Drumming? (1)

What does the director of the performance do to start different sections (what is the keyword for this)?
(1)

What 2 main instruments (other than drums) are used in Yiri? (2)

When stresses conflict with each other and the steady constant beat, what is created? (1)

What is the musical device where the same melody is developed throughout a piece known as? (1)

How are African vocal pieces structured/performed? (1)

Name 3 different ways in which harmony can applied to African vocal performances. (3)

Write a definition of the following words (4):
Ostinato
Oral Tradition
Unison
Polyphonic
IN PAIRS, LIST THE INSTRUMENTS IN THEIR CORRECT INSTRUMENTAL FAMILIES:

















TRUMPETS (WOOD/METAL)
RATTLES
LYRES
FLUTE
PIPES
OCARINAS
BELLS
PAN PIPES
ZITHERS
MUSICAL BOWS
MBRIA (THUMB PIANO)
HORNS
CLAP STICKS
SLIT GONGS
STAMPING TUBES
WHISTLE
LUTES
IDIOPHONES
(resonant/solid)
AEROPHONES CHORDOPHONES
(wind)
(strings)
AFRICAN INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC
AFRICAN INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC
IDIOPHONES
(resonant/solid)
AEROPHONES (wind)
CHORDOPHONES (strings)
Rattles (shakers)
Flutes (bamboo, horn)
Zithers
Bells
Ocarinas
Lutes (kora)
Mbria (thumb piano)
Horns (animal tusks)
Lyres
Xylophones (balaphones) Trumpets (wood, metal)
Clap sticks
Pipes (single and double
reeds)
Slit gongs
Panpipes
Stamping tubes
Whistle
Musical bows
AFRICAN INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC

Balaphones – xylophones

Wide range of pitches

Smaller xylophones = higher pitches

Membrane in between bars made of natural
materials such as orange peel
AFRICAN INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC: COMMON
FEATURES

REPETITION

IMPROVISATION

CYCLIC STRUCTURES

POLYOPHONIC TEXTURES

INTERTWINING MELODIES
BACKGROUND TO ‘YIRI’

Musicians in Koko are:
 Madou
Kone: vocals, balaphone, flute
 Sydou Traore: vocals, balaphone
 Jacouba Kone: djembe
 Francois Naba: vocals, tam-tam, dundun, maracas
 Keresse Sanou: talking drum
 Tidiane Hema: vocals, maracas
BACKGROUND TO ‘YIRI’

From Burkino Faso: West Africa

Burkino means ‘men of integrity’

Faso means ‘father’s house’

People from Burkino Faso are called Burkinabe

Themes in music include battle, fight for surival
and the environment; creation, community
celebrations and friendship.
MUSICAL STRANDS IN ‘YIRI’

There are 3 clear musical strands (ideas that
run the whole way through the piece/shape the
piece) in Yiri. What do you think they are?
Balaphone ostinati – complex polyphonic
texture
 Drum ostinato – based on a one-bar pattern
(little variation)
 Vocal line – pentatonic, call and response

CONSTANT FEATURES IN ‘YIRI’
Unvaried tempo
 Regular and unvaried beat
 Drum ostinato
 Pattern of voices and instrumental breaks
 Largely unvaried dynamics


Listen to the introduction of ‘Yiri’. What do you hear with regards to the following:



Instrumentation
Texture
Patterns in the music
1. What happens after the introduction (after bar 9)?
2. Describe the tempo of the piece. Is the piece in a major or minor key?
3. Are the drums all playing at the same pitch?
4. How does the size of drum determine the pitches that are heard?
5. How would you describe the rhythms of the instrumental melody?
6. Are the different balophones playing the same thing?
7. What and how are the drums playing when they enter?
8. What are the different textures heard in the first part of the piece? Justify your answers.
‘YIRI’
0.00-0.18: Intro

Free tempo, high balaphone improvised solo played at a
soft dynamic.

Monophonic texture.

Solo balaphone in G flat major, fast high and low rolls on
every note.

Simple and repetitive.
‘YIRI’
0.18-0.34

Moderato tempo established by first balaphone.

Second lower-pitched balaphone joins in after bar 9 – mainly playing octaves

Both balaphones play for whole piece – polyrhythms and independent of each other

Strong sense of major tonality as opening two notes of melody are dominant (D flat)
and tonic (G flat).

Melody built on 2 bar phrases with a strong rhythmic basis.

Second balaphone plays the same melody but with different pitches.

Heterephonic texture – contours of melody roughly the same.

Rhythms – mainly quavers and semiquavers with some tied notes.
‘YIRI’
0.34-1.09

Large donno, small donno and djembe enter with a half bar ostinato:

When the drums come in they all play the same rhythm

The drums are at different pitches (smaller = higher, larger = lower)

Drums can get different sounds depending on how they’re played

Balaphone plays variation of original melody

Lower balaphone plays an ostinato in bars 17-20

Occasional djembe fills

Melody includes syncopated rhythms and octave repetitions on tonic (G flat) and
dominant (D flat)
‘YIRI’
1.09-1.25
Chorus A1
 Voices in unison
 Melody = short, simple, repetitive
 No harmony
 Semi-quaver, quaver, semi-quaver rhythm
1.25-1.44
 Short balaphone instrumental
 Drums ostinati
1.44-2.01
Chorus A2
 Voices again – music same as before
2.01-2.10
 Voices out
 Solo instrumental on lower balaphone
 Variation in balaphone melody
‘YIRI’
2.10-2.45
 Solo with choral responses (call and response)

New melody with long held notes and short notes on ‘Yiri’

Vocal melody with triplet figures – variation on original melody

Lower pitched balaphone plays same ostinato heard in bars 17-20

Voices (choral response) in unison at bar 63

New melodic riffs in balaphone based on original melody
‘YIRI’
2.45-3.14
 Solo voice (call) with long held notes

Drums same as before

Balaphones play rhythmic 3-note semiquaver melodic figure – cross-rhythms
created

Bar 71 = solo voice singing variation of original melody
Triplets, syncopated rhythms and semi-quaver/quaver rhythms (heard
before)

3.15-3.19
 Vocal response from choir in unison
3.20-3.28
 Solo voice (call) with balaphone rhythms in solo break
‘YIRI’
3.28-3.59
 Instrumental solos continue
 New melodies on balaphones
 Short rest (one bar/3 beat) rest before next chorus
4.00-4.31
Chorus B1
 Full choir in unison singing ‘Yiri’
 Short instrumental interjections to break up vocal lines
4.31-4.35
 Dialogue between voices and instruments
‘YIRI’
4.45-5.20
 Balaphone break instrumental
 Riffs with variations
 Extended section but based on original melody with variations
 Rapid figures
 Octave leaps
 Semi-quaver and demi-semi-quaver patterns
5.20-5.36
Chorus A3
 Full choir in unison
 Instrumental interjections
‘YIRI’
5.36-6.24
 Instrumental ending – balaphone break
 Syncopated
 Drums re-enter at bar 153 (one bar before coda)
6.24-end
Coda
 5 two-bar phrases – in octaves and dramatic rests
 Sense of a strong riff
 Heterophonic texture
 Drums play familiar ostinato from bar 153
 Piece concludes with a single strike on a bell
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