Saturday, August 30, 2008

Africa: Witchcraft and Ritual Music

Recorded in Kenya and Tanzania by David Fanshawe, a prolific and exceedingly exceptional ethnomusicologist, this 12" was released in 1975 on Nonesuch Records. While it may be a little difficult to pick up such a prime piece as this vinyl LP that I have recently acquired, does carry the cd, under a slightly different title, in mp3, downloadable, stock. The music itself is pretty fucking incredible, and includes, but is not limited to, the Mwari Initiation, the Pokot Witch Doctor and the Coconut Pickers Song. Fanshawe dilligently collected a series of pertinant information to accompany the tracks and his time and effort really contribute greatly to both the anthropological interest and overall enjoyment of the album. In addition to attempting to glean as much as is visually possible from the photo of the back cover, I strongly urge you to check out Africa: Ceremonial and Folk Music and Spirit of African Sanctus, also by Fanshawe.

Final Judgement: "So good, it must be magic!"

"In this recording, I have tried to capture the spirit of a musical heritage now nearly extinct. The music on this album comes from a part of East Africa whose musical traditions remain largely unknown to the rest of the world. Particularly fascinating is the manner in which music and medicine are combined in the indigenous practice of witchcraft; music takes on the power of medicine, and medicine becomes associated with the healing sound of drums, interwoven with beautiful threads of melody.....
I am deeply indebted to the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust and The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust for sponsoring my research in Africa, and to all the Government departments concerned who assisted me in the field. I would also like to thank the missionaries (of all denominations), teachers, and guides - and, of course, the African musicians themselves who made it all so worthwhile. - D.F."

No comments: