Highlife

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For other uses, see High life (disambiguation).
Highlife
Stylistic origins Afro-pop - African music, Palm-wine music
Cultural origins 1900s (decade), Ghana
Typical instruments Guitar - horns - vocal

Highlife is a music genre that originated in Ghana at the turn of the 20th century and incorporated the traditional harmonic 9th, as well as melodic and the main rhythmic structures in traditional Akan music, and married them with Western instruments and ideas. Highlife was associated with the local African aristocracy during the colonial period. Highlife spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Gambia and Nigeria via Ghanaian workers, among other West African countries, by the 1930s. It is very popular in Liberia and all of English-speaking West Africa, although little has been produced in other countries due to economic challenges brought on by war and instability.

Highlife is characterised by jazzy horns and multiple guitars which lead the band. Recently it has acquired an uptempo, synth-driven sound (see Daddy Lumba). Joromi is a sub-genre.[1][2]

This arpeggiated highlife guitar part is modeled after an Afro-Cuban guajeo.[3] The pattern of attack-points is nearly identical to the 3-2 clave motif guajeo shown earlier in this article. The bell pattern known in Cuba as clave is indigenous to Ghana and Nigeria, and is used in highlife.[4]

Top: clave. Bottom highlife guitar part.

Artists[edit]

Artists who perform the Highlife genre include:

Ghana[edit]

Nigeria[edit]

Sierra Leone[edit]

Highlife in jazz[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Oti, Sonny (2009). Highlife Music in West Africa. African Books Collective. ISBN 978-978-8422-08-2. 
  2. ^ Davies, Carole Boyce (2008). Encyclopedia of the African diaspora: Origins, experiences, and culture. ABC-CLIO, Inc. p. 525. ISBN 978-1-85109-700-5. 
  3. ^ Eyre, Banning (2006: 9). "Highlife guitar example" Africa: Your Passport to a New World of Music. Alfred Pub. ISBN 0-7390-2474-4
  4. ^ Peñalosa, David (2010: 247). The Clave Matrix; Afro-Cuban Rhythm: Its Principles and African Origins. Redway, CA: Bembe Inc. ISBN 1-886502-80-3.