Time in Indian and West African Music

Theodora E. Entsua-Mensah


Time, as expressed in musical rhythm, has been the focus of numerous musicological studies. Cyclic time is said to be an important foundation of Indian and African music. This assertion forms the basis for the study. Having garnered enough information to justify this assertion, a comparison is made between the Indian t?la and the West African time line using primarily Widdess’s (1981) observations on the t?la and studies on African rhythmic organization. The comparison is also based on the premise that the t?la and the time line seem to have similar roles in the organization of music in the two cultures. Juxtaposing in particular the ?d?-t?la and the adowa time line, the paper examines concepts such as the sam vis-à-vis the regulative beat, and pulse organization into measures vis-à-vis a fixed time span. Although it is asserted that musical rhythm in both African and Indian music is predominantly additive, the author argues that, to a large extent, rhythmic patterns employed in strictly-timed African percussion/ensemble music are predominantly divisive, and that conceptually, certain features of the t?la and the time line appear to be similar, however, the musical contexts in which they function are clearly dissimilar.

Keywordst?la, time line, ?d?-t?la, adowa, regulative beat, sam.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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