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Highlife
Stylistic originsAfro-pop - African music
Cultural origins1900s (decade), Ghana
Typical instrumentsGuitar - horns - vocal

Highlife is a music genre that originated in Ghana in the 20th century and spread to Sierra Leone, Nigeria and other West African countries by 1920. 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 characterized 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

Artists who perform the Highlife genre include:

Highlife in jazz

References

  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:-10 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.



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