“One tone does not create music yet, you need different tones to bring harmony to the music”
(The thinking of the Dogon, 365 African sayings)
The African traditional musical styles are almost always intended for dance or the support of repeated movements during daily work. In their dance they show movements like picking berry’s, cutting trees or ploughing the earth. A lot of music served the encouragement and synchronisation of workers. Also it has this special character of question and answer. This is often due to the extensive polyrhythms. They produce different rhythms, that create rhythmic layers. Every musician, dancer, worker and even listener has its own place within this polyrhythmic whole. This explains the question and answer dynamic. In African songs this character is often present in shape of a lead singer and a choir that repeats sentences. So it is a way of communication. In times of slavery white owners felt very threatened by the power of this communication. They tried to control or even forbid the sounds of the drums that reached many plantations in the area.
In the video you can listen and look at a beautiful example of African working music. Enjoy!