Call for Compositions (Music Scores): Anthologies of African Song/Choral Music
You are invited to submit original compositions/arrangements scored for solo voice or choral ensemble, for possible inclusion in two forthcoming anthologies of contemporary African art music:
• African Chorale: An Anthology of Original Pieces and Arrangements for Chorus
• African Art Songs: An Anthology of Original Songs and Arrangements for Solo Voice
From Egypt to South Africa, Ethiopia to Ghana, singing constitutes a fundamental element of African musical life. This fact is nevertheless often forgotten. Particularly outside the continent, the performative voice appears to have been sidetracked by other forms of African music-making such as drumming and dance. Amid this general oversight, vocal works by composers of African art music are perhaps least known. A major reason for the lack of awareness about contemporary African art music is the unavailability of published scores and recordings. Within Africa and beyond, printed scores and anthologies are extremely rare. Paradoxically, throughout the continent, scored pieces for solo voice and choral ensembles are widely performed, being often the most accessible body of work by contemporary African composers. The vibrant art song traditions of contemporary Africa are mainly sustained via the circulation of photocopied and handwritten scores by informal networks of singers, choir directors and other aficionados.
As defined by Abiola Irele, African art music is “a conscious and elaborate form…bound to the musical language of Europe” (Transition 61). By and large, its primary exponents are African composers with varying degrees of training and immersion in European classical and church music. Modern African art music provides such composers with a tool for working out their contemporary Africanness, what Irele calls elsewhere, their “dual experience” of tradition and modernity (African Imagination, 29). Such a working out entails the recontextualization of traditional African musical elements and values within the literate medium of European art music. Works produced are often conceived for performers who are similarly accustomed to the norms of European art music, in venues such as theaters and concert halls where performer-audience boundaries are clearly marked.
The proposed anthologies will not only help to bring the modern singing traditions of Africa to global awareness, but also fill a long neglected gap in African music publishing.
Pieces contained in the volumes will span secular and sacred repertoires, and cover the breath of the continent, with entries representing East, West, North and South Africa, as well as adjacent islands. In addition to art songs and choral works by African composers resident in the continent and abroad, also welcome are:
1. Art songs/choral works by composers of African descent resident in the diaspora or the continent.
2. African art songs/choral works by non-African composers.
Regardless of composers’ ethnic origins or geographic location, all pieces included in the anthologies will be original compositions/arrangements characterized by a conscious and prevalent (though not exclusive) use of rhythmic, harmonic, textual and thematic traits that are demonstrably within African music traditions. While variety of content attests to the fluid interconnectedness of cultural expressions within and across Africa and its diaspora, aesthetic values emanating from Continental Africa and its adjacent Islands will form the unifying core of the two anthologies. As such, Negro Spirituals—a genre that has already been widely anthologized—will generally not be considered.
Exceptions to the points made in the preceding paragraph would be art songs or choral works which, though largely Western in character, are nonetheless original compositions/arrangements by underrepresented composers from Africa, the Caribbean or elsewhere. Such compositions (e.g. the works Fela Sowande) not only represent critical transitional moments in the evolution of African art music, but also infuse “mainstream” traditions with “new,” unconventional voices. Thus, the anthology will situate African art songs and choral works within the broader contexts of African musical cultures, and music in general.
Scores may be submitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Anthologies of African Art Songs” in the subject line.
Alternatively, scores may also be mailed to:
1115 N. Euclid Avenue, Apt. 1
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Submitted scores should be accompanied by the composer’s bio. Also indicate in an attached document the following:
• Title of piece(s) • Medium: solo or choral work; accompanied/a capella • Range and combination of voices, i.e. SATB, STB, TTBB, SSA, SSAATTBB, etc.
Please state if pieces have already been published elsewhere, and by which publisher.
Submission deadline: March 31, 2012.
1115 N. Euclid Avenue, Apt. 1
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
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