Representing African Music

Postcolonial Notes, Queries, Positions

Kofi Agawu



The aim of this book is to stimulate debate by offering a critique of discourse about African music. Who writes about African music, how, and why? What assumptions and prejudices influence the presentation of ethnographic data? Even the term "African music" suggests there is an agreed-upon meaning, but African music signifies differently to different people. This book also poses the question then, "What is African music?"


At times frankly informative, at times darkly ironic, and at times passionately earnest, Representing African Music reads like a resource text, satire, and manifesto all at once...[offers a] trenchant critique of otherwise neutral-seeming representations of African music...


Kofi Agawu was born in Ghana, West Africa where he received his initial education before studying in the UK and the US. He has taught and lectured at numerous universities in Africa, Europe and the United States. He is currently a professor of music at Princeton University.