frica and music are integrally linked, through time and throughout the continent, in our perceptions of Africa. From birth until death, music complements African life. Musicians and their instruments were depicted in the pharaohs’ tombs of ancient Egypt. Today, they can be heard in modern nightclubs. They can set the character of a masquerade performance, rousing the spirits to appear. They can sound the rhythms for dancers. The sound of the historian’s chant, the Islamic call to prayer and the hunter’s whistle literally add other notes. Some performances are solos; some are part of an ensemble. Some musicians are professional; some are amateurs. The musical instruments are just as varied—in size, materials and degree of ornamentation. This exhibition offers a glimpse of those special musical instruments that are also works of art.

Depictions of musicians and other musical instruments are also on view at the museum in the exhibitions Images of Power and Identity and The Royal City of Benin.

Back to: NMAfA past exhibits