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Music and Social Dynamics in Nigeria

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Edited By Bode Omojola

Music and Social Dynamics in Nigeria explores the diverse ways in which music reflects, and is shaped by, historical and social dynamics of life in Nigeria. Contributors to this volume include some of the leading scholars of Nigerian music, such as Joshua Uzoigwe, Laz Ekwueme, Tunji Vidal, Richard C. Okafor, A. K. Achinivu, Ademola Adegbite, Femi Faseun, and Christian Onyeji. Focusing on ancient and new musical traditions, including modern African art music, and drawing on the methods of ethnography and music analysis, the various chapters of the book discuss the role of music in community life, enculturation and education, political institutions, historical processes, belief systems, and social hierarchies. Conceived primarily for students and scholars of African music, this book will also be of immense value to the general reader.

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Chapter Five: Playing Technique and Contemporary Compositions for the Oja (Wooden Flute)

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CHAPTER FIVE

Playing Technique AND Contemporary Compositions FOR THE Oja (Wooden Flute)

CHRISTIAN ONYEJI



INTRODUCTION

Graham Hyslop’s well-known appeal for dedicated research in the field of musical instruments is a call that should be gladly heeded by every sincere and dedicated African trained musician for a radical improvement on the status of African musical instruments (Hyslop 1964: 24). Many would agree with me that adequate attention has not, in any way, been given to African musical instruments that could be isolated from traditional context, studied and written for, just like some Western concert instruments. For now, most African musical instruments are relegated to the background and simply remembered when there is need to accompany songs or dances.

The use of some African musical instruments as solo concert instruments could be more vigorously explored, considering the fact that most African musical instruments have the potential to be developed and used as concert solo instruments. Accompaniment roles have often been assigned to instruments like the xylophone (ngedegwu), drums, the so-called thumb piano (mbira), wooden flute (oja), gong (ogene) and some others in most ensembles. Even when they are employed as master instruments, they still rely on other ensemble instruments for complete realization of their musical roles. The need to “emancipate” some of Africa’s indigenous musical instruments from subsidiary to principal positions cannot be overemphasized, especially now that we have a considerably high number of music graduates.

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