“Music has charms to soothe a savage breast” is a line from the first line of William Congreve’s 1697 play The Mourning Bride. The full line is, “Music has Charms to soothe a savage Breast/to soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak”. The line implies that the sounds and rhythm of music can calm even someone with an aggressive or violent nature. What power! 

Music is as vast as our imagination, as varied as our feelings. There are songs for every mood and every experience. There are melodies that evoke sadness and those that arouse joy and happiness. Music to put one to sleep and sounds so loud, if it were possible, the dead would frown. Music can evolve and has evolved over time influenced by culture, society and/or politics or whatever the prevailing climate might be at the time. 

Because music has its roots in different traditional and cultural practices, there is a wide array of musical styles across Africa’s vast geographical and cultural diversity; each region with their unique sounds and rhythms. North & East Africans have rich Arab influences and experiment with various types of percussion, the West Africans are known for their complex rhythms fused with drums and xylophones, the South Africans carry out-of-this-world vocal harmonies and, with the Central Africans, incorporate thumb pianos to create vibrant dance rhythms. 

More contemporary and modern genres and fusions include hip-hop and rap, afrobeat and afropop sounds speaking to our timeless relevance evidenced by the current global leadership we enjoy, as a continent, in music. 

Cross-cultural collaborations have seen sounds of African origin reach and captivate global audiences that, at one point, were the stuff of dreams while the artistes enjoy worldwide recognition, celebration and reward. What has further propagated home-grown musical talents have been the streaming platforms thanks to the internet that erased territorial barriers making the music ever more accessible and rewarding. 

Perhaps what should not be forgotten is our rich heritage and it must needs be preserved through recording and documentation. Music schools should not go out of business and must endeavor to teach traditional music to youngsters who will carry to the torch to the future. 

Only time will tell where music, world over, is headed and what is yet to emerge remains promised though unknown but one thing is for sure, the African contribution to the overall tapestry is undeniable.  The drum that once sounded from a village in Africa has been heard all over the world. As a collective, we did that. 

From our wealth of creations, I appreciate a good afrobeatsound. What rhythm gets you grooving?