By: Matthew Terndrup

The variety of different musical genres that exist in Nigeria including Hausa, Igbo, Apala, Fuji, Ade, Obe, Afrobeat, Yo-pop, Afro-jùjú, Waka, Reggae, and different variations of Hip-Hop have influenced cultures throughout the world. Ever since music’s inception in Nigeria through children’s songs and working tunes, the genres have diversified and spread slowly passed the outer edges of the country to other countries in Africa and eventually it found its way to other parts of the world.


It started with the instruments. Their drums and xylophones were distinctive and other countries enjoyed them enough to incorporate them into their songs. Since most of the items used in creating music in Nigeria was usually in the percussion family, rhythm was a primary characteristic in areas surrounding the African country and it eventually spread to other regions.

You can tell how Nigeria music influenced other genres around the globe by breaking the music elements down. For instance the effect can clearly be seen in the music of Charleston in the late 20th century. Some elements contributed from the African country are evident in the syncopation, timbre, and call and response in America. The shifting of underlying beats become a defining component shared between the music in Nigeria and Charleston. African music contains sound quality with noisy and dense textures that are intertwined through the rhythms of the tunes. It can get complex and technical but the songs get the crowds involved. The genres of both areas are filled with enthusiasm when recorded and performed in front of an audience which makes it very enjoyable to watch and listen to.

The African rhythms and melodies found in the African country have also influenced a variety of different music styles even past the Southern United States to places like Europe and Brazil. Genres like jazz, blues and pop sprung from the Atlantic Slave Trade at first and then grew into a very relevant type of music when the workers got their freedom. Many artist still find inspiration from Nigerian songs and tunes. Rock ‘n Roll musicians even show characteristics of African styles in their music. The complex rhythms are heavily syncopated thanks to that country’s effect in music.

Now that music from Nigeria has established itself as a prevalent style of music through its many genres and artists like Fela Kuti and I.K. Dairo, it is going to be interesting to see what new musicians are going to continue to come from this rich culture and what their influence on world music is going to be like. Perhaps, some interesting instruments will be created to capture the rhythms and flows of the people of the area. Or maybe, there will be some collaborations between Nigerian artists and other musicians from around the world that will lead to new genres in a similar fashion like when Afro-cubism was formed. Whether people are singing while they work, playing songs on stage in front of a vast audience, or a mother who is humming a traditional tune to get her child to fall asleep, music in Nigeria is deeply rooted in their culture and it is not going away anytime soon.




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