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Nigerian Art Music

Bode Omojola


Mosunmola Omibiyi-Obidike

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1Articles on Nigerian Art Music exist in various specialist journals and magazines, but many of these accounts are often not much more than anecdotes by enthusiasts and non specialists. European musicologists have, by and large, concentrated their studies on traditional African music. Nigerian Art Music, by Bode Omojola, therefore, is a most welcome book written by an insider and an active participant in the Nigerian Art Music scene. He brings together in one volume a history of Art Music in Nigeria, as well as a scholarly analysis of some of the works of the most renowned Nigerian composers. Omojola demonstrates that Art Music has always been the prerogative of the Nigerian elite; even in the colonial era, the price of admission to most concerts was well beyond the reach of the masses. Nigerian Art Music, with its antecedents in European classical and church music has been limited to a select few in its orientation and practice, consequently, it has never been well understood or appreciated by the generality of the people. Perhaps, through the publication of this book, which should facilitate the teaching of music appreciation in our universities and polytechnics, a greater understanding of Art Music will emerge in the new generation of graduates.

2The composers of Nigerian Art Music belong to a small circle of brilliant and talented people, and although they may not have made much of an impact in their own lifetimes, they struggled to forge an African identity to their music, a beginning which the younger generation of Nigerian composers can build on. Obscurity or relative anonymity is not peculiar to African composers : European composers of generations past, who now have become household names, similarly struggled, often in isolation and were unappreciated in their own lifetimes.

3The baton is now being passed to the younger generation, who have greater opportunities for education within their own cultural environment. It is therefore, gratifying that a book such as this one has appeared. It should be a challenge to other scholars of Nigerian music.


Director, Institute of African Studies
University of Ibadan, Nigeria

© IFRA-Nigeria, 1995

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