In the American culture, there are non- African songs that have been influenced by the African culture. This influence can occur either in the instrumentation or the way it is composed. Those songs that are influence by the African culture have elements similar to that of African music. There are many musicians that have composed their music similar to African music. Some of these musicians are Shakira, Juan Luis Guerra, and Paul Simon to name a few. The purpose of this paper is to present songs that have been influenced by African songs both in their instrumentation and composition. Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)” is a song that is influenced by the African culture and its songs. “Waka Waka” is a song composed by Colombian singer, Shakira and features Freshlyground, a South African band. This song was composed for the 2010 South African World Cup. The instruments used in this song are the bass guitar, electric guitar, drum kit, bongo drums, conga drums, bass drums, keyboard, an African guitar similar to a Ukulele, and maracas. “Waka Waka” has a fast and very energetic melody to it. When it is time for the background singers to sing, they sing in harmony.
The tone of this song is smooth and mellow. It is very enthusiastic and can be relaxing and enjoyable. Even though the genre of this song is pop, there is a mixture of African music. This is so because in the song, there is a deep background voice of an African singer (2:30- 2:40). The African influence in this song also occurs when the African vocalist in the song begins to sing in the African language (2:11- 2:26). Moreover, there are some African instruments used in “Waka Waka. ” These instruments are the bongo drums, conga drums, and the African drum or the Ukulele.
These instruments are used to accompany the African singing that occurs through the African vocalist’s verse and the African singer in the background. Relating to the video, these instruments help to bring the flow of the dance that is being performed making it look like an African ritual. In “Waka Waka,” there are elements of African music. These elements are ostinato and community participation. Throughout the song, the melody of the beat remains fast, energetic, and the constant drum playing. In the beginning of the song, the community participation is evident.
These elements help the song sound like a song composed in Africa especially with the repeated beat fused with the African vocalist singing. “Oh Africa” is another song that has been influenced by the African culture. “Oh Africa” is a song performed by the Senegalese- American artist, Akon and features American singer Keri Hilson. This song is a charity song that is composed to aid poor children in Africa, and one of the songs for the South African World Cup of 2010 track. The instruments used in this song come mostly from the African culture.
These instruments include: the djembe, kosika, congas, bougarabou drumming, and fiddling. “Oh Africa” has both a fast and slow melody. The fast melody starts when the background singers begin to sing, and the slow beat starts in the singing of both Akon and Keri Hilson. The background singers in the song all sing in harmony which is mostly common African songs that bring that spiritual- like image and feeling. Even though Akon and Keri Hilson are both R&B and pop singers, they are able to mix these genres with African music which is more dominant in the beat.
This dominance is creditable to the African instruments and African elements used. The constant drumming of congas, the djembe, and bougarabou gives the song the spiritual and ritual- like beat that is commonly found in African music. There are few R&B elements involved; however, they do not stand out as much as the African elements do. The African elements that are used in this song are call and response, ostinato, community participation, and melisma. The call response is found when Akon sings the chorus and the constant drumming during the singing of the chorus and afterwards.
In “Oh Africa,” there is ostinato used, another African element. This is so because the melody that begins the song also ends the song and remains the same throughout the song. The melody starts smooth and mellow and remains the same with the constant drumming, and the fiddling that occurs a few times in the song. Moreover, there is community participation in “Oh Africa. ” The community participation is found in the singing of the “owe-o-wa” part of the song.
This community participation helps the song sound like an African song because the community participation, Akon, and Keri Hilson sing in harmony which brings the spiritual and ritual- like idea. Last but not least, there is a lot of melisma in this song. In “Oh Africa,” the melisma is found mostly in the verses sung by Keri Hilson. Akon also uses a few times melisma when he sings the “oh Africa” words in the chorus. Melisma can be heard in the community participation as well with their singing of “owe-o-wa. ”
Both “Waka Waka” and “Oh Africa” are songs that have been influenced by the African culture. This influence is shown through the instrumentation and the elements used of these songs that are similar to those of African music. In both songs, the major influence of the African culture is in the drums used in these songs. It is through the drums that the major connection can be seen in these songs to that of African music. Another major connection between these songs and African music is in the African elements of ostinato and community participation.
Both songs have these African elements in them giving the song the spiritual and ritual- like melody. However, their melodies are different in the senses that “Waka Waka” is clearly a fast, energetic, dancing song. Whereas, “Oh Africa” is more of a gospel and spiritual like song with a slow to fast melody, and the community participation sounding like a choir. These two songs are highly influenced by the African culture, but not the only songs because there are many songs that incorporate African music to piece.