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New Harmonies: West African Music

Story Narrative:

"I have been studying African music for nearly 20 years, specifically West African music, music of the Mandan, and in the culture of the Mandan, this music is all about community. When they have a celebration, there’s music and everybody participates. There’s no concept of audience and clapping and sitting quietly back and observing. Everybody sings or dances or plays the drums of claps if nothing else. Everybody’s moving; everybody’s active; everybody’s together. There’s no separation really between the musicians and everybody else. Everybody’s kind of musician, everybody’s a dancer. Everybody’s involved. This kind of music really helps bring people together, so I have been trying to bring this music—along with a lot of other people—to the United States and trying to get some of these ideas happening in communities here. Sort of a transplant of a West African tradition here in the United States. I think back in the old days—whatever that means—and even in Western musical traditions, we had more people involved. And, at some point musicians evolved to be the specialized person and not everybody was a musician and not everybody was a dancer. And, I think we’ve suffered a little bit from this. So, that’s my story about music."

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