African musical instrument exhibited at the American gallery

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Akonting has been called the ancestor of the banjo, an instrument commonly used in American music.

Although it had been researched for decades, it had not yet been incorporated into the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But now, after a three-year space shuffle, akonting has made an appearance in the revered art space.

The space, Gallery 681 and labeled Mapping the Art of Music, also hosts several other instruments played around the world. According to the New York Times, viewers can also see “lutes, lyres, gongs, drums, horns, harps, whistles, Italian violins, Indonesian gamelans, lamellaphones from sub-Saharan Africa, a harpsichord. gilded apparently supported by mythical creatures and keyboard instruments. small enough to fit in your hand luggage ”.

Akonting originates from Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Gambia, which are home to the famous African instrument, the kora. Akonting is associated with slaves who crossed the Atlantic and took away memories of their own music.

“The instruments survive,” Bradley Strauchen-Scherer, who worked on the gallery’s new look, told The New York Times. “That’s why we spend so much time studying them.

Gambian Daniel Laemouahuma Jatta is one of the scholars to have introduced akonting into contemporary study. He connected the sounds of the banjo to an instrument he played years before in the 1970s. This instrument from his youth turned out to be the akonting and Jatta embarked on historical research. In 2000, he presented his conclusions. Although some of these findings have been disputed, Jatta’s presentation altered the known history of the banjo by tracing its ancestry back to the akonting.

For the Metropolitan Museum of Art, according to the New York Times, research conducted before the museum reopened showed that there is no origin for world music. Rather, it showed “to what extent people all over the world are simultaneously discovering many of the same things.” However, the origin of akonting is not in doubt.


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