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African Pages

  • Highlife Introduction to highlife music with books and CD recommendations

    • Highlife Lecture Lecture given at the State University of New York with book and CD recommendations.

  • Soukous Introduction to Soukous music with CD recommendations.

  • Palm Wine - Introduction to Palm Wine with CD recommendations.

  • African Books Further reading and research on African Music

  • African Guitar African guitar playing with some examples, midi files, real audio and transcriptions.

  • African Music Links

Alisdair MacRae Birch and African Music

I was first introduced to African music at school, mainly the music from Nigeria and South Africa. Later, whilst  performing and working in the studios in London, UK I was asked to arrange some "highlife" horn parts - the band then asked me to join them as one of their guitarists. Subsequently, I became very involved in the London, UK and Paris, France African music scene, particularly with musicians from Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Ghana.

In the late 1970's and early 1980's many African Musicians were emigrating to Europe and the African Music scene was exploding into the clubs. I played guitar in and arranged horn parts for a number of highlife, soukous, zouk and palm wine bands and among the artists I worked with were the Ivory Coasters, Prince Nico Mbarga, Louisiana Tilda, and S.E. Rogie.

Whilst the drum plays a central role in African music, my own particular interest has been in African Harmony and Improvisation, with emphasis on horns and guitar. As an educator I enjoy teaching others about the beauty of this music.

In 1998 I formed the African Web ring which links African Music Sites around the web and then joined with others to form the African Music Hub and became a moderator of the Yahoo African Music Group.


African Music Hub - Hub of the African Music Group
African Music Webring - The largest collection of African Sites
BBS and Discussion Groups HistoryAlisdair's involvement with BBS's and Discussion Groups

Prince Nico

Aki Special - Prince Nico Mbarga

Prince Nico Mbarga's Aki Special contains one of Africa's biggest hits, Sweet Mother. It's a classic album and one of the most successful West African Guitar "Rhumba/High life" bands.

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"Koo Nimo" Amponsah Album

Osabarima - Daniel "Koo Nimo" Amponsah

Koo Nimo is considered one of the greatest performers of West African "highlife" guitar style. His impact on West African popular music has been acknowledged by a lifetime award from the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, and in 1997 he was the recipient of the Grand Medal for Lifetime Service to Ghana from the Head of State of that country.

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