Traditional South African Music

Music will always be a binding factor across continents, cultures and personal choice. It is one thing that can be universal and personal all at the same time. It is a globally-understood language that is comprehendible; even without lyrics. Appreciating it is another matter but the process in doing so is like a discovery on its own.
South Africa is an example of music beyond borders. Literally and figuratively, traditional South African music transcends lineage, heritage, cultural inspiration and creativity. With that said, the roots of South African music can be traced even before the colonial era: a time when music was used for rites and ceremonies.
Instruments were highly influenced by the culture and the times of South Africa’s past. Musicians, tribesmen and slaves improvised to create their very own string instruments using the example of western-influences. Notable instruments include the Ramkie and the Mamokhorong. The ramkie was developed by the Khoi-Khoi; borrowed from the Malabar slaves, it was used to combine Khoi and Western music. The Mamokhorong is a string violin used for making music and celebrating dance in Cape Town and was also used by the Khoi for their ceremonies and celebrations. Soon, the city became a melting pot for cultures, nationalities and ideas and of course, music.
The most common of all traditional South African musical instruments is the voice. Singing is probably the most used ‘instrument’, accompanied with other instruments played by mouth. The mouth bow, one of the more famous indigenous instruments known to its people, has made its way up the contemporary music ladder. In addition to the bow, the drums and thumb piano are also staple South African musical instruments which are accompanied by dancing and celebration.
Being rich with foreign cultural influence, South Africa is encompassed by missionary character that is still apparent today. Music introduced by the missionaries during the earlier colonial times are still present as jazz and soul music can be considered a very much integral part of traditional South African music. One notable artist in this category is former pop singer Rebecca Malope.
This strong influence of choir singing and gospel songs, which the missionaries brought to South Africa, along with the musical culture native to the people, has been a great contributor not only to the already rich culture but to the identity of its people. Indeed, traditional music from South Africa lives on with us today, transcending language barriers and borders.