April 2016

Techniques: Afropop

Exploring the different styles of the Afropop genre.

National Standards: 7, 8, 11

Prepare: Have the class read Techniques: Afropop (page 24 of the student edition). The article provides examples of 8 styles of Afropop.

Listen to a playlist of audio samples illustrating the examples from the article:

NotionappClick here to download the files for audio playback on the Notion app.
Key points in the article:

  • Afropop arose from a blend of American and European styles. African styles first influenced American styles of jazz, rock, and R&B, and in turn, those styles returned to Africa to influence Afropop.
  • Afropop is more of an umbrella term than a musical genre. Its styles focus on simple chord progressions, syncopation, and interlocking rhythmic patterns.
  • Maringa is a modern Afropop style that uses a distinctive two-finger picking technique.
  • Soukous features bright melodies and simple chord progressions, and is typically played high up on the neck.

Begin: Try some of the techniques with the class, noting the tips described in each example. Lessons might include:

  • Playing the examples on the guitar, preferably an electric. If a guitar is not available, use a piano.
  • Have the class play example 4 as a group using the instruments available (ideally trumpet, tenor saxophone, and bass).
  • Teach the class to clap to the different percussion rhythms on example 7.

Develop: Play the following video of King Sunny Adé & His African Beats performing “Me Le Se”:

What elements of the techniques shown relate to the article?

  • interlocking percussion rhythms
  • Calypso influences
  • bright melodies

Play the following video of Fela Kuti performing live:

What elements of the techniques shown relate to the article?

  • brass band influences
  • single chord repetition
  • blend of traditional and modern styles