Reading List

Galerie Amrad African Art Publications, 1993. ISBN 0-9693081-9-1
Gives a colorful overview of drums in many societies in Africa with archival photos, drawings and articles by African and European authors. Shows drums and drummers by country, as well as African drums in Western Museums. Glossary, Bibliography.

Original Music, 1972. ISBN 0-9614458-0-7 L.C. #74-6472
A very readable book on music of the African Diaspora, mostly in the new world. Covers a wide spectrum, from Yoruba music in Brazil, through Caribbean styles, Blues, Soul and the new inventions in 1970’s Africa. Excellent bibliography and discography.

THE MUSIC OF AFRICA By J.H. Kwabena Nketia.
W.W. Norton & Co., 1974. ISBN 0-393-09249-6
The author, a prominent African scholar, makes extensive use of staff notation to show concepts and examples of African drum, vocal and instrumental music. Many photos and extensive academic analysis.

AFRICAN MUSIC: A Peoples Art By Francis Bebey.
Lawrence Hill & Co., 1975. ISBN 0-88208-050-4
This is an excellent introduction to the world of traditional African music, instruments, and musicians and their role in the everyday life of the people. Many exceptional photographs and a thorough discography.

MUSIC AND TRANCE: A Theory of the Relations between Music and Possession By Gilbert Rouget.
University of Chicago Press, 1985. ISBN 0-226-73006-9
A thoroughly academic study of trance in various cultures with emphasis on West and Central Africa. Describes characteristics of music, dance, shamanism and spirit incorporation. Bibliography, Discography, extensive foot notes.

REGGAE BLOODLINES: In search of the Music and Culture of Jamaica By Steven Davis and Peter Simon.
Anchor Press, 1979. ISBN 0-385-12330-2
Covers the history and development of Reggae, with many excellent black and white photos.

THE BRAZILIAN SOUND: Samba, Bossa Nova and the Popular Music of Brazil By Chris McGowan and Ricardo Pessanha.
Billboard Books, 1991. ISBN 0-8230-7673-3
An excellent book describing the broad range of Brazilian Popular Music. Pictures of all the prominent artists and maps of the different regions and their styles. An easy reading books, it gives history of many styles that have now become world famous: Samba, Forro, Samba Reggae. With glossary, bibliography and discography.

Life Rhythm, 1992. ISBN 0-940795-07-8
The author, from Austria, has developed and taught a unique rhythmic body work for developing musical awareness. This book chronicles it’s development and his training in European, Indian, Cuban, Brazilian and Korean music and culture. With many charts, diagrams, and exercises. CD or cassette of examples available.

HOT SAUCES: Latin and Caribbean Pop By Billy Bergman.
Quarto Marketing Ltd., 1985. Quill Books, William Morrow & Co., l985. ISBN 0-688-02193-X
The book gives an introduction to several styles of Caribbean music including Reggae, Soca, Rara, Salsa, as well as Brazilian Tropicalista. With many photos and brief discography on each style.

SALSA THE RHYTHM OF LATIN MUSIC By Charley Gerard with Marty Sheller.
White Cliffs Media
An excellent overview of the world of Afro Cuban music in America. The author, a musician, presents a thorough analysis of the various Cuban forms central to the American music know as Salsa. Good discussion of Clave and Tumbao and how they function within Rumba, other folklore and band music. Many musical examples with extensive bibliography and discography.

Sher Music Co.
The author a Bay Area pianist, composer, and teacher has studied performed with the greats. In this volume she has assembled an excellent guide to understanding and performing Afro Cuban band music. With archival as well as modern photos, excellent discography and glossary.

MUSICA BRASILEIRA: A History of Popular Music and the People of Brazil By Claus Schreiner.
Marion Boyars, 1993. ISBN 0-7145-2946-X
An extremely thorough and somewhat academic book covering all facets of Brazilian Music, from the popular Samba to obscure northeastern styles. Many translation of songs, some notation. Excellent folklore compendium and historical progression. With glossary and bibliography.


Anchor Books, 1979. ISBN 0-385-3713-9
An excellent overview of traditional African religious practices and beliefs, by an African author with a doctorate in theology from Cambridge University. Covers the African conception of time as a key to understanding philosophy as well as concepts of evil, ethics and justice. Touches on Christianity and Islam, but the focus is on native belief systems.

SANGOMA: My odyssey into the Spirit World of Africa By James Hall.
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1994. ISBN 0-87477-780-1
This is the story of the first white man to become initiated into the mysteries of a Zulu Sangoma or spiritual healer. His account of the two year spiritual and physical ordeal is astounding. He left his screenwriter life in Los Angeles and is now a traditional healer in Swaziland.

OF WATER AND THE SPIRIT Ritual, Magic and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman By Malidoma Patrice Some.
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1994. ISBN 0-87477-762-3
An incredible account of a man who bridges the modern and tribal worlds. The author, born in a traditional West African society is kidnapped at age four and raised and educated by missionaries. Upon fleeing their school at age 19, he returns to his village where it is decided that he must be initiated. His account of that initiation forms the heart of the book.

MACUMBA: The Teachings of Maria-Jose, Mother of the Gods By Serge Bramly.
City Light Books, 1994. ISBN 0-87286-286-0
An in-depth and accessible account of an European man’s adventures in Umbanda and Candomble’. With many pictures and translations, this book gives a moving description of African religion in modern Brazilan life.

DRUM AND CANDLE By David St. Clair.
Doubleday, 1971. ISBN 0-517-145235
The author, a writer for a major American magazine goes to Brazil with a skeptical view of the power of African based rituals. He goes through a major transformation and documents many forms of Brazilian magic and spiritism. Includes the history of Kardecism and its influence on Umbanda.

Samuel Weiser,1994. ISBN 0-87728-789-9
An excellent overview of the Yoruba religion, one of the main influences in African culture in the New World. Explains and compares attributes of the Orisha and how they manifest in divination. Several familiar songs are translated. Explains many aspects of worship and how to internalize the teachings.

SANTERIA: An African Religion in America By Joseph M Murphy.
Beacon Press, 1988. ISBN 0-8070-1914-6
A first hand account of Afro Cuban religion in urban America. A professor of religion from Georgetown University explores the worship of the Orisha among Cubans, and Puerto Ricans in the Bronx. Contains translations of portions of several well know Orisha songs. With glossary, extensive footnotes and references.

THE AFRICAN RELIGIONS OF BRAZIL: Toward a Sociology of the Interpenetration of Civilization By Roger Bastide.
The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978. ISBN 0-8018-2130-4 L.C. #78-5421
A true masterwork on African American studies, the author, who was initiated in Candomble’, creates an exhaustive account of interaction of cultural elements in Brazil. Contains extensive comparison of differing, yet similar African traditions throughout the country.

IWA-PELE IFA QUEST: The search for the source of Santeria and Lucumi By Awo Fa’lokun Fatunmbi.
Original Publications, 1991. ISBN 0-942272-23-4
The author, a white American, describes his spiritual journey to becoming a high priest in the Nigerian Ifa Religion. Defines the structure and function of the divination system and gives a self study guide for it’s use in personal spiritual study. Also covers ancestor reverence and the construction of an ancestor shrine.

University of New Mexico Press, 1994. ISBN 0-8263-1556-9
Originally published in 1947, this engaging book covers Brazilian Candomble and other African traditions from the state of Bahia. Landes’ research from 1938 and 1939 gives us a valuable insight into the role of women in preserving African traditions in Brazil.

FACE OF THE GODS: Art and Altars of the African Americas By Robert Farris Thompson.
The Museum for African Art, New York. 1993. ISBN 0-945802-13-7
Robert F Thompson is respected by both Africans and Americans as a writer on African Culture. This 334 oversize page book contain hundreds of photos of African Altars from both sides of the Atlantic. The accompanying text is excellent in describing, defining and comparing elements in this huge body of information.

DIVINE INSPIRATION: From Benin to Bahia By Phyllis Galembo.
University of New Mexico Press, 1993. ISBN 0-8263-1378-7
(Essays by Robert F Thompson, Joseph Nevadomsky, Norma Rosen and Zeca Ligiero)
This oversized book centers around African altars and shrines in Benin City, Nigeria and Salvador, Recife and Cachoeira in Northeastern Brazil. Pictured are many intimate scenes of Priestesses and Priests in their shrines with accompanying text including poems and proverbs with translations.

THE SACRED FOREST: The Fetishist and Magic Rites of the Toma By Pierre-Dominique Gaisseau.
Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London. 1954.
A Frenchman’s account of his trips to Guinea in the 1950’s to shoot film and witness ancient and secret African rituals. With photos. Very readable.


FLASH OF THE SPIRIT: African and Afro-American Art and Philosophy By Robert Farris Thompson.
Vintage Books, 1983. ISBN 0-394-72369-4
One of Thompson’s best books, this one shows how five great African civilizations are reflected in the music, sculpture, textiles, architecture, religion and writings of African Americans living in the U.S., Mexico, Caribbean, and Brazil.

AFRICAN ART IN MOTION: Icon and Act By Robert Farris Thompson.
University of California Press, 1979. ISBN 0-520-03844-4 L.C. # 73-91679
A seminal work by a highly regarded author in the field, this book attempts to define a unified aesthetic in African dance, music, sculpture, and textiles using motion as a key. The author uses video tape of native dancers in their traditional context to solicit comments from other distant ethnic groups, thus revealing broad based aesthetic judgments from the African themselves. Extensive notes and bibliography.

THE DANCES OF AFRICA Photos by Michel Huet, text by Claude Savary.
Harry N. Adams, Inc. New York, 1996. ISBN 0-8109-3228-8
This beautiful oversize book contains 160 photos including 80 plates in full color covering a period from 1945 to 1985. Fifty ethnic groups are covered in regions from Senegal to the Congo Basin, from Ivory Coast to Rwanda. Dance is the central theme.

University of Washington Press, 1988. ISBN 0-295-96702-1
Covers the history and development of Caribbean festivals including Jonkonnu, Rara, Trinidad and Cuban Carnival, the Hosay festival and others. Documents the spread of these festival to urban centers in Canada, the U.S. and England. Excellent photos and text with glossary, reading list and index.


SUNDIATA: An Epic of old Mali By D.T. Niane.
Longman Group ltd., 1965. Distributed in the USA and Canada by Humanities Press Inc. ISBN 0-582-64259-0
A retelling of the great epic story of Sundiata, the Lion of Mali, hero of many names. Told in griot style by Mamadou Kouyate. Essential reading for anyone interested in Manding culture.

MAROON SOCIETIES: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas Edited by Richard Price.
Anchor Books, 1973. ISBN 0-385-06508-6
Describes and documents the independent communities of rebellious slaves in the New World and their political and economic threat to the colonial system. With extensive historical references.

Mentor Books, The New American Library. 1972. LCC# 72-76806
This book, by a African American scholar, re-educates us about the African past. It strips away the prejudices and misconceptions by presenting information about the great city states and empires of antiquity.


AFRICAN RHYTHM AND AFRICAN SENSIBILITY: Aesthetics and Social Action in African Musical Idioms By John Miller Chernoff.
University of Chicago Press, 1979. ISBN 0-226-10345-5
The books goes into great detail describing the meaning and place of music in the life of two ethnic groups from Ghana. The author was initiated and apprenticed to Eve and Dagomba master drummers and shares insights, analysis, stories and proverbs from his training. With staff notation and photos.

THE HEALING DRUM: African Wisdom Teachings By Yaya Diallo and Mitchell Hall
Destiny Books, 1989. ISBN 0-89281-256-7
This book is a collaboration between an African musician and an American writer. It tells the story of Yaya Diallo’s life, the culture of his tribe from Mali and the role of music within it. Yaya was trained in balafon and hand drums as a child, won a scholarship to study in Canada but eventually gives up science for drumming.

THE DRUMMERS PATH: Moving the Spirit with Ritual and Traditional Drumming By Sule Greg Wilson.
Destiny Books, 1992. ISBN 0-89281-359-8
A personal account of African drumming/dance culture in America and its place in this land. The author, a true American Griot, provides a guide to the principles and power of traditional African Music and Dance. Excellent illustrations and diagrams, with photos, bibliography and extensive glossary. Audio cassette available.

AFRICA COUNTS: Number and pattern in African Culture By Claudia Zaslavsky.
Lawrence Hill and Co., 1979. ISBN 0-88208-104-7
A fascinating book on numbers in African culture. Covers history, words, gestures, taboos, concepts of time, money, weights and measures, games, patterns and shapes in architecture Several maps, charts and pictures. Includes notes, references and bibliography.


Fielden Books, 1993. ISBN 0-933031-76-9
An Engaging story of the African life of Rae Graham, a English nurse who goes to live with her husband at a trading post among the Venda of Southern Africa. She rapidly learns their languages and customs and is accepted into their culture. Later in her life, after many years of living among them, she embarks on becoming an herbalist and reader of bones, the local oracle. After many tests and initiations she becomes respected diviner among them.

LIGHTNING BIRD: One Man’s Journey into Africa By Lyall Watson.
Simon and Schuster Inc., 1982. ISBN 0-671-47361-1
A engaging account of an Englishman learning to live in the South African bush as the natives do. He gains their respect by walking everywhere, learning to survive and to handle snakes. He becomes an expert on rock pictographs and part of the history of one group by helping them to re integrate their tribe after years of disturbance caused by missionaries.

FELA FELA: This Bitch of a Life By Carlos Moore.
Allison and Busby, 1982. ISBN 0-85031-464-X
The Cuban author has created a three dimensional narrative on Fela Kuti the Nigerian musician, composer and band leader. With interviews, reflections, pictures and proverbs, he helps us to understand this fiery personality, often associated with protest and revolt.