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Faculty of Music


Dr Emmanuel Nnamani
(Darwin College, University of Cambridge, UK)

Missing the Link’ - Beyond the theory of African Pianism

In today’s compositional repertory, many African serious (Classical)/ art music works for various performative media, including the voice, instruments and mixed media as well as for different ensemble combinations abound. These compositions which are strongly rooted in the combination of western and African music formulations have resulted in new theorization of techniques, concepts and materials. “African Pianism” is one of these emerging concepts which seek to define the “Africanized Piano Technique.” Since its conception, by Akin Euba, this concept has attracted scholarly attention and attendant morphological appendages aimed at situating it properly as a music theoretic tool.

This paper examines the nature of this concept and delineates its attendant appendages with a view to justifying its efficacy and utility in music-theoretic terms.  The discussion derives its strength from the analyses of relevant music pieces by selected composers (eg: Euba, Uzoigwe, Labi, Ndubuisi, Nketia, El-Dabh and Mereni among others) from scores and mixed media and notes that the ‘growth’ of this concept, African Pianismseems to be dwarfed by the morphological appendages it has garnered as it swims through the murky waters of the confluence between musicology and music theory. Many good theoretical formulations have run into and got suffocated in the raging waters of this confluence. While African Pianism has good potentials to be employed in musicological and indeed, music theoretic debates, our discussion shows that a substantial re-evaluation of the concept and proper delineation of its scope are vital hurdles that need to be addressed.

Wednesday, 28 May, 2014 - 17:00 to 18:30
Event location: 
5.00pm, Recital Room, Faculty of Music