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African Music

African music can be very difficult to find in the library because it is not generally listed in the Catalog under "African music." It is usually listed by the type of music first, such as "folk songs" or "popular music," then divided by country. It can also be listed under a particular ethnic group, such as "Yoruba" or "Baka," or by the specific type of music, such as "juju music" or "balo music." The following is a guide to searching for African music the library catalog. At the bottom of this page is a selection of African music CDs including both traditional music and pop that might be of interest to you.

New! Almost 2000 tracks of music from Africa can be found on Smithsonian Global Sound. This streaming audio website includes recordings from the Smithsonian Folkways label and the International Library of African Music. Access is available in the library or remotely with a valid Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh card.


Searching the Catalog for African Music

The best way to find CDs of African music is to use the ADVANCED KEYWORD search, which lets you get a large number of CDs in one broad search. Or, if you are looking for something more specific but don't know the name of a specific performer, you can also use the ADVANCED KEYWORD search to specify what you want with words or phrases.

To make sure you get CDs only, choose "Music CDs" from the Material Type drop down menu.


African music
Type: music and africa*

music from Ghana
Type: music and ghana

West African pop music
Type: popular music and west and africa*

African drumming
Type: africa* and (drum* or percussion)

(NOTE: In the Catalog, the asterisk * is used as a wildcard. A search for drum* would return hits for drum, drums, drumming, etc. or Africa* retrieves both Africa and African.)

Another way to find African music CDs is to browse the catalog with a general SUBJECT SEARCH. That will get you a list of subjects, where you can click on the one that interests you. From there you can either look for the CD icon on the right side of the list, or choose the "Limit/Sort Search" button from the menu at the top of the screen.

You can start with one of the following subjects: This will allow you to browse, looking for subjects such as:
folk music Folk music --Africa, West
Folk music --Zululand (South Africa)
folk dance music Folk dance music --Cameroon
folk songs Folk songs, Akan --Ghana
popular music Popular music --Africa, West
popular instrumental music
Popular instrumental music --South Africa
(this is very broad, try the other subjects first)
Music -- Ethiopia

Always keep in mind while you are searching that Africa is made up of many countries and numerous ethnic groups, so if you can, be specific. The following lists may help in reminding you of some of the countries and ethnic groups you can search:


Selected Countries

(for a nice map use The Africa Guide Map of Africa)

Burkina Faso
Cape Verde
Central African Republic
South Africa

Selected Ethnic Groups

(There are over 800 ethnic groups in Africa; use The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, v.1-Africa or The Garland Handbook of African Music for background information on the music of Africa to help with more specific searching.)

The following African peoples are represented in the CD collection of the music department and can be found by keyword searching in the Catalog:

Ajjer (Tuareg)

Selected African Music CDs

The following lists are a selection of CDs that you can find in the Music, Film & Audio collection. We have divided them into 2 lists.

The first is more traditional or folk music (for lack of better terms) and includes field recordings. For more music of this type be sure to also check the streaming audio database Smithsonian Global Sound.

The second list showcases African music with more of a Western influence (including electric instruments, drumsets, funk beats, etc.) that we're calling popular music (also for lack of better terms).

Please click on the individual titles to check for availability.


Traditional, Folk and Field Recordings

Aimard, Pierre-Laurent African Rhythms If Aim 24182
Ballets Africains Les Ballets Africains: Ensemble National de la République de Guinée If Bal 11254
Bush Taxi Mali: Field Recordings from Mali If Bus 31814
Diabate, Mamadou Behmanka If Dia 26660
Ethiopie: Musiques Vocales et Instrumentales If Eth 6364
Heart of the Forest If Hea 6218
The Igede of Nigeria: Drumming, Chanting and Exotic percussion. If Ige 5753
Kwenda, Forward Svikiro: Meditations from an Mbira Master If Kwe 11413
La Drivers Union Por Por Group Por Por: Honk Horn Music of Ghana. If La 31813
Mbuti Pygmies of the Ituri Rainforest If Mbu 10432
Le Monde des Musiques Traditionelles (The World of Traditional Music v.1 - North Africa/West Asia) If Mon 6099
v. 1
Le Monde des Musiques Traditionelles (The World of Traditional Music v.5 - Africa) If Mon 6099
v. 5
Opika Pende: Africa at 78 RPM If Opi 41846
Rhythms of Life, Songs of Wisdom: Akan Music from Ghana, West Africa If Rhy 10390
Rujindiri Rujindiri, Maitre de l'Inanga: Musique de l'Ancienne Cour du Rwanda If Ruj 4350
Sounds of West Africa: the Kora & the Xylophone If Sou 6794
Spirit of African Sanctus: the Original Recordings by David Fanshawe (1969-73) If Spi 17102
Touareg de Fewet -- Libya: Music from the Sahara Desert If Tou 38840
Yoruba Drums from Benin, West Africa If Yor 25624

More Traditional, Folk and Field Recordings:
Nonesuch Explorer Series

Africa: music from the Nonesuch Explorer series If Afr 27407
Burkina Faso: Savannah Rhythms If Bur 27839
Burundi: Music from the Heart of Africa If Bur 27851
East Africa: Ceremonial & Folk Music If Eas 27430
East Africa: Witchcraft & Ritual Music If Eas 27835
El Din, Hamza Escalay - The Water Wheel: Oud Music If El 26869
Ghana: Ancient Ceremonies, Songs & Dance Music If Gha 5505
Zimbabwe: Shona Mbira Music If Zim 26870
Zimbabwe: the African Mbira: Music of the Shona People If Zim 27883
Zimbabwe: the Soul of Mbira: Traditions of the Shona People If Zim 27882

Electrified Pop Music and More

Acquaye, Saka Ghana: Voices of Africa: High-life and Other Popular Music If Acq 27865
Ahmed, Mahmoud Almaz (Ethiopiques 6) If Ahm 38452
Amadou & Mariam The Magic Couple If Ama 35806
Boyoyo Boys Back in Town If Boy 4206
Buthelezi, Mzikayifani Fashion Maswedi If But 4627
Buzz 'n' Rumble from the Urb 'n' Jungle If Buz 25514
Congo 70: Rumba Rock (African Pearls) If Con 36565
Diabate, Toumani Djelika If Dia 25331
Ekemode, Orlando Julius Super Afro Soul with Orlando Julius & His Modern Aces If Eke 39235
Electric Highlife: Sessions from the Bokoor Studios If Ele 28476
(Ethiopiques 1) Golden Years of Modern Ethiopian Music, 1969-1975 If Eth 25306
(Ethiopiques 3) Golden Years of Modern Ethiopian Music, 1969-1975 If Age 25958
(Ethiopiques 4) Ethio Jazz & Musique Instrumentale, 1969-1974 Jz Eth 26084
(Ethiopiques 13) Ethiopian Groove: Golden Seventies If Eth 38454
Etran Finatawa Desert Crossroads If Etr 34054
Fela Best of Fela Kuti If Fel 25220
Fela Lagos Baby: 1963/69 If Fel 34680
Franco Franco If Fra 26272
Ghana Soundz: Afro-beat, Funk, and Fusion in 70's Ghana If Gha 26661
Golden Afrique. Vol. 1 If Gol 26023
Golden Afrique. Vol. 2 If Gol 32982
Golden Afrique. Vol. 3 If Gol 29885
Guinée 70: The Discotheque Years (African Pearls) If Gui 37892
Highlife If Hig 20601
Kante, Mory Akwaba Beach If Kan 2375
Keita, Salif Best of Salif Keita: The Golden Voice If Kei 28341
Kuti, Femi The Definitive Collection If Kut 31881
Ladysmith Black Mambazo Best of Ladysmith Black Mambazo If Lad 11194
Mali 70: Electric Mali (African Pearls) If Mal 37986
Mali lolo! Stars of Mali If Mal 23226
The Mbira - Tales of the Mbira: Fusions (Modern & Ancient) If Mbi 38837
N'Dour, Youssou Youssou N'Dour & Etoile de Dakar If NDo 27532
Olatunji, Babatunde Drums of Passion If Ola 38956
Olatunji, Babatunde Drums of Passion: the Beat If Ola 10138
Olatunji, Babatunde Drums of Passion: the Invocation If Ola 9372
Orchestra Baobab Made in Dakar If Orc 34057
Orchestra Baobab Specialist in All Styles If Orc 19666
Orchestra Ethiopia Orchestra Ethiopia (Ethiopiques 23) If Orc 38451
Pont Sur le Congo (African Pearls) If Pon 37891
Putumayo Presents North African groove If Put 34006
Putumayo Presents South African legends If Put 17680
Radio Algeria If Rad 32227
Radio Morocco If Rad 31875
Rochereau, Tabu Ley The Voice of Lightness: Congo Classics 1961-1977 If Ley 32623
Roots of Rumba Rock: Congo Classics 1953-1955 If Roo 32226
Sénégal 70: Musical Effervescence (African Pearls) If Sen 36264
Sénégal: Écho Musical (African Pearls) If Sen 37993
Taylor, Ebo Life Stories: Highlife & Afrobeat Classics 1973-1980 If Tay 38906
Tinariwen Aman Iman: Water is Life If Tin 31939
Toure, Ali Farka In the Heart of the Moon If Tou 25518
Tout Puissant Likembe Konono No. 1 de Mingiedi Konono No. 1 If Tou 25334
Tout Puissant Likembe Konono No. 1 de Mingiedi Live at Coeleur Café If Tou 32094
Tout Puissant Likembe Konono No. 1 de Mingiedi Lubuaku If Tou 32093
The World Ends: Afro Rock & Psychedelia in 1970s Nigeria If Wor 38146

Want to know more? Ask a librarian.