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African Church Music: The Genesis of an Acculturative Style

African Church Music: The Genesis of an Acculturative Style African Church Music: The Genesis of an Acculturative Style Stephen H. Martin* One area in which Western influences have been deeply felt in African culture has been in the development of music in the Christian Church. In the initial sending of Christian missionaries to Africa during the colonial era, the use of traditional African musical idioms in worship services was strongly debated. The early missionaries denied the legitimacy of indigenous customs, believing them to be so pervasively a part of traditional religious beliefs that attempts to assimilate them into Christian worship would merely perpetuate "heathen­ ism." In Zaire, for instance, "a strict ban was placed on all forms of native music, musical instruments and rhythmic devices which were feared would encourage the people in their old practices." One notable exception were the early Scottish missionaries in northern Ma­ lawi who, perhaps due to their own folk hymn tradition, encouraged the use of African music in the churches. Some of the indigenous tunes that were arranged as Christian hymns, for instance, reflect the history of the Ngoni people of northern Malawi . Although many of these old Ngoni hymns are now in the language of the Tumbuka people, in whose http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Black Sacred Music Duke University Press

African Church Music: The Genesis of an Acculturative Style

Black Sacred Music , Volume 2 (1) – Mar 1, 1988

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Copyright
© Copyright 1988 JBSM/Jon Michael Spencer
ISSN
1043-9455
eISSN
2640-9879
DOI
10.1215/10439455-2.1.35
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

African Church Music: The Genesis of an Acculturative Style Stephen H. Martin* One area in which Western influences have been deeply felt in African culture has been in the development of music in the Christian Church. In the initial sending of Christian missionaries to Africa during the colonial era, the use of traditional African musical idioms in worship services was strongly debated. The early missionaries denied the legitimacy of indigenous customs, believing them to be so pervasively a part of traditional religious beliefs that attempts to assimilate them into Christian worship would merely perpetuate "heathen­ ism." In Zaire, for instance, "a strict ban was placed on all forms of native music, musical instruments and rhythmic devices which were feared would encourage the people in their old practices." One notable exception were the early Scottish missionaries in northern Ma­ lawi who, perhaps due to their own folk hymn tradition, encouraged the use of African music in the churches. Some of the indigenous tunes that were arranged as Christian hymns, for instance, reflect the history of the Ngoni people of northern Malawi . Although many of these old Ngoni hymns are now in the language of the Tumbuka people, in whose

Journal

Black Sacred MusicDuke University Press

Published: Mar 1, 1988

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