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Nigeria has been called “the heart of African music” because of its role in the development of West African Highlife, which fuses native rhythms with techniques imported from the Congo.

Definition of Music

Music is an art form consisting of sequences of sounds in time, especially tones of definite pitch, organized melodically, harmonically, rhythmically and according to tone or colour.

The science and the art of tones, or musical sounds—sounds of higher or lower pitch—begotten of uniform and synchronous vibrations, as of a string at various degrees of tension; the science of harmonic tones which treats of the principles of harmony, or the properties, dependences, and relations of tones to each other; the art of combining tones in a manner to please the ear.

Music in Nigeria

The music of Nigeria includes many kinds of folk and popular music, some of which are known worldwide.  Styles of folk music are related to the multitude of ethnic groups in the country, each with their own techniques, instruments, and songs.  Nigeria has been called “the heart of African music” because of its role in the development of West African Highlife, which fuses native rhythms with techniques imported from the Congo.  This brand of music can be credited for the development of several popular styles that were unique to Nigeria, like Apala, Fuji, Juju, and Highlife.

Outstanding amongst remarkable places where music can be practised in Nigeria, is the MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos.  MUSON is an acronym for Music Society of Nigeria.

History of The MUSON Centre

The school was established 1989, teaching initially in temporary accommodation provided at Corona Schools in Victoria Island and Apapa before it moved to its permanent accommodation in 1994.  The centre is suitably located on 1.666 hectares (2.881 acres) of land in a quiet and cultural zone of central Lagos, granted to the Society in 1988 by the Lagos State Government.  Opened for business in February 1994, the centre continues to draw praise from around the world for its architectural elegance and serene ambience.  Apart from being the venue of MUSON’s Music School, concert, annual Festival of the Arts, and other programmes, MUSON Centre is also Nigeria’s leading centre for the Performing Arts.  The School conducts grade Certificate Examinations at various centres in Nigeria.  Holders of appropriate grade certificates qualify for exemption from practical sections of the SSCE in music as well as admission into polytechnics, colleges of education and universities.

Objectives of The MUSON Center

The Musical Society of Nigeria was established in 1983 with the following objectives:

  • To promote the understanding and enjoyment of classical music in Nigeria.
  • To promote the performance of serious music (with emphasis on classical music).
  • To promote the education of children in the performance and theory of music.
  • To encourage the interaction of Nigerian and non-Nigerian musicians, and for this purpose to encourage foreign musicians to come to perform in Nigeria and vice versa.

Tradition of The MUSON Center

The tradition of the MUSON, if I am to relate it with a phrase, is that they speak a language called “music”.  From time immemorial a long-established action or pattern of behaviour in this community or group of people, often one that has been handed down from generation to generation, has been a legacy of good music and art (various genres).  The MUSON owns a music school with a well-structured and organized curriculum summarized as:

  • Basic Course

This part-time course provides basic training in the theory and practice of music. Practical lessons are given in voice, piano, violin, organ, double bass, recorder and trumpet.

  • Diploma Course

Introduced in 2006, as a full-time programme, the Diploma Course is designed as a well-rounded performance-based musical training with students being required to attain a high standard on a major instrument or voice training.

The MUSON Festival

The MUSON Festival grew out of a “Mini Festival”, the name given to three consecutive nights of varied concerts at the MUSON Centre.  The success of that mini festival led to the birth of the First MUSON Festival of Drama, Art and Dance in February 1997.  The MUSON Festival has therefore, over the past ten years, evolved as a major event on Nigeria’s arts calendar because of the quality of its programming and the caliber of the international and local artistes it has featured in its Festivals.  The Festival’s Jazz Night has established itself as one of the high point of each year’s Festival.  It has featured some of the best names on the Jazz scene in the world, as well as many up-and-coming Nigerian artistes.  There are plans to transform the event into an annual Jazz Festival.

The objectives of the festival were to:

·         Serve as a platform for broadening the appeal of the MUSON to the larger Nigerian Society;

·         Further the society’s core objective of promoting the performance and enjoyment of serious music; and

·         Promote the arts in general towards the ultimate goals of:

  • Enhancing the cultural development of the Nigerian people and society;
  • Promoting inter-cultural relations with other nationalities and
  • Broadening the cultural appeal of the Nigerian society to the international community.

Music, an artful arrangement of sounds across time.

Music, a tool that has the power to heal the body, mind and spirit.

Music, food for the soul.

Music, a great communicator between humans and beautiful sound.

Music is life, love and the nostalgia that comes after.

 

By ERU KOBE GODWIN

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