With the development of choral singing during the past century, it became imperative to perform different musical genres and cultures in its authentic style. This study tries to show the importance of sound to reach this goal. The sound is thus of utmost importance.
The specific goal is to research the history, background and development of the African choir, and also to compare it to one of the most developed Western choral backgrounds, i.e. the Scandinavian choir. This is to describe the defects in the African choral tradition and to suggest some solutions for improvement.
The research is based on an overview of the different ways in the development of performance styles of Western choral music as Lennart Reimers researched it in Sweden. It includes practical guidelines in the performance practice of African choral folk music.
To reach the goal of this study, an in-depth study on the history and background of choral singing in Africa and Scandinavia was done. This has lead to the conclusion that the information on this topic is limited, and that outside sources about aspects related to the specific topic had to be consulted.
First a basis on the history and background was studied in dictionaries, books and articles. Lectures were attended or read, and many interviews and talks with musicians, as well as practical sessions with choirs were held. With this knowledge an applied study was done in my work with different choirs, and through that, the result of this study was reached.
Many interesting aspects arose during this study. Some of the most significant is that Western choirs are definitely behind with choirs from other cultures in their approach to world music and their ability to learn and sing music from foreign cultures. On the other hand African choirs struggle considerably with technical aspects like sight singing, sound production, singing technique and conducting technique in their efforts to learn and perform Western music. This is mostly due to the lack of training and education in these fields.
This thesis was done to research the sound body of African music, and to compare it to the Scandinavian sound body. Through the course of the study it was discovered though, that the sound body as heart of the choral tradition is not the only important factor to consider, all aspects that influenced and led to the development of the sound body of choral music must be considered. Aspects like training, outside influences, musical influences, traditionalism, etc., are just as important in forming the choral tradition. The question then arises which happened first, the chicken or the egg.
Two main general conclusions of this study are that the choral traditions in South Africa need to be change through education in order to develop a choral tradition. The second is that approaches towards world music, although receiving much more attention worldwide, need much more attention in the choral world (academically as well as performance wise).
1 As mentioned in the preface, the term sound body is a much more efficient description to explain how choirs sound, than to only define sound and timbre.||nor