Music in Africa

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Music & School of Arts

Module overview

In this course, we look at the diverse cultural worlds of music, sound, and the performing arts in Africa, with a particular focus on a selected region.

We will consider the role of regional languages, social structures and cultural values in creating musical styles within Africa and across global platforms and audiences. Vernacular concepts will be explored throughout, providing insights into the musical structures, repertoires and aesthetics that lie at the heart of musical traditions and instruments. We will analyse the roles of cultural industries, technologies and production values in creating 21st century styles and sounds.

Each session will revolve around contextualised critical listening to a number of iconic recordings, covering a wide range of styles and artists who have been influential either at home or abroad (or both).

This module is available to all students who wish to engage with African music, and previous study of music is not a prerequisite. The selected region will vary, according to the research focus of the convenor. 

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module students will be able to

  • Interpret the dynamics and flows of influential styles, repertoires and instruments in selected regions of Africa. 
  • Distinguish the distinctive sounds and aesthetics of individual and regional inflections. 
  • To assess the role of the local and global music industries in promoting artists who by ‘playing with tradition’ have given music from this part of the Africa continent such a high profile in recent decades. 


  • Lectures: 1 hour per week
  • Seminars: 1 hour per week 

Method of assessment

  • One 1,000-word review (worth 20% of marks)
  • One 2,500-word essay (worth 50%)
  • One Listening Test (worth 30%)


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules