Amount: ₦5,000.00 |

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1-5 chapters |


The popularity and mass appeal of saxophone as a sonorous solo instrument is evident in its use in various categories of global music events, concerts and shows. In Nigeria, it is preponderantly used in most popular music genres such as the West African highlife, reggae, and hip-hop. A leading perspective in Western art music practice has been to view music performance as the reproduction or realization of music scores which gives the performer the task to communicate a musical work from its notated state. However, such perception has drastically changed across various musical cultures because of the audience’s interest in the ingenuity of the performer. This recital, therefore, showcases the performer’s dexterity and creativity in interpreting a set of selected works. As a study, it adopts the practice-based research method cum historical and descriptive research designs in discussing the performance of a select Nigerian art and popular musical works on the soprano, alto and tenor saxophones. It is consciously crafted to provide useful data to the field of music performance. Consequently, the study proposes researched- performance as a model for engaging in live music performance.

1.1       Background of the Study


Music and its performance in Africa have always been acts of participatory and communicative practices. Music is an essential channel of communication which provides a means for people to share emotions, intentions and meanings even though their spoken languages may be mutually incomprehensible. Music can be used to generate much variations of expressiveness by skilled composers  and  performers  (Hargreaves,  Miell  &  Macdonald,  2002).  The  saxophone  is  a sonorous  solo  instrument  which  is  widely  employed  in  various  categories  of  African  and Nigerian music concerts and shows. Notably, the Afro-beat legends such as Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Lekan Animashaun and Bisi Ologunde (Lagbaja) are very influential for the popularization of the saxophone in Nigeria. In the Ramblers and Tempos Band of Ghana, saxophonists were essential to expanding the improvisational idiom of highlife by employing techniques gained from swing jazz bands or the Big Bands (Aidoo, 2014).

Some musicologists argue that the most obvious way of studying music as performance is to “study those traces or representations of past performances that make up the recorded heritage; thereby  unlocking  a  century-long  archive  of  acoustical  texts  comparable  in  extent  and significance to the notated texts around which musicology originally came into being” (Clayton, Herbert & Middleton 2003, p.212). Modern performance deals with performers’ creativity and dexterity within the musical works in view. As Harper-Scott and Samson (2009) write:

Musicology has recently broken away from this focus on musical texts, and in doing so has further developed an interest in the performer and moved closer toward ethnomusicological modes of perceiving performance as a process rather than as a product. “Music” depends on a performer bringing it “to life” and performances are never exactly the same as previous ones (p.222).

Describing the contemporary music performance scenario, Deliege and Wiggins (2006) write that  “today’s most distinguished performing musicians – be they in classical, jazz, rock, pop, folk, or other genres – are people who offer new musical possibilities to their audiences” (p.161). This implies that listeners appreciate variation and creative performances; hence, the creation of new musical material is not solely the prerogative of composers. A foremost standpoint in

Western classical music practice has been to conceive music performance as the reproduction or realization of music scores, giving the performer the task of interpreting a musical work from its notated state (Harper-Scott & Samson, 2009). The audience’s interest in the ingenuity of the performer drives the desire for participation or attendance in performances. The performance stage of saxophone music in Nigeria lacks performer-scholars who offer novel artistic musical possibilities to the audience. It is in line with the above background that this study attempts demonstrating the performer’s ingenuity in performing selected Nigerian art and popular musical works.  This  saxophone  recital  primarily  deals  with  interpreting  composed,  adapted  and transcribed works of the Nigerian art and popular music composers, arrangers and performers for the soprano, alto and tenor saxophones.

1.2       Concept of the Performance

Studying music in a multicultural society opens the door to knowing other cultures, people’s achievements and realizable musical possibilities through music performance (Barragán, 2013). In a similar stance, Kartomi (2014) believes that research into music performance should be carried out within its socio-cultural and historical environment in order to induce maximum cultural context relevance. If music composition, according to Onyeji (2016, p.1) is an aspect of cultural expression which reveals deliberate efforts by composers to capture social, cultural and abstract phenomena in sonic forms in various cultural locations, then music performance is the delivery tool that perpetuate those cultural and social phenomena.

This saxophone music recital is primarily designed to demonstrate the dexterity of the performer on the saxophone within the Nigerian perspective. Musical creativity is the making of distinctive and imaginative musical ideas accessible by simply integrating existing knowledge in a different way.  It  can  be  a  creation  within  an  existing  created  work.  The  soprano,  alto  and  tenor saxophones are employed by the researcher to replicate some musical works composed and adapted for the saxophone.

1.3       Statement of the Problem

Music performance takes place when performers are engaged in the business of music interpretation.  Becoming  a  virtuoso  performer  is  task-demanding.  There are many Nigerian saxophone players but most times, they lack systematic approach to performance. Systematic approach to music performance requires that the performer must first consider the performance instrument, the audience (homogenous or heterogeneous aspects), the music and other factors that contribute to the success of the event. Contrary to what is obtainable outside the academic music environment in Nigeria, this study systematically selected musical works for the intended audience; considered the possibility of reproducing the selected works, and rehearsed extensively before the performance event. Moreover, most performers pay less attention to the Nigerian art music because to a large extent, only few can read written music. Inability to read written music poses a problem of striking a balance when selecting music to be performed. Balance in selection of music ensures that the performer communicates to contingents that attend a performance event.

Systematic  approach  to  music  performance  requires  that  the  performer-scholars  follow  a proposed model of researched-performance. Researched-performance is a process of sharing musical knowledge through an artistic music performance after a demographic audience analysis which guides the selection of music and musicians, instruments, rehearsal schedule, time and location of the performance event. The proposed model of systematic researched-performance can be outlined as follows:

1.   Identifying the audience.

2.   Taking a demographic audience analysis. In such case, the performer considers such factors as age, gender, size of the audience, culture, homogeneity or heterogeneity. In the case of a homogenous audience, it is preferable to select most music from a particular genre that appeals to such audience but in the case of heterogeneous audience, the reverse is the case.   A homogenous audience can be people from the same profession or people with similar level of exposure.

3.   Undertaking fieldwork on reading and/or listening to recordings of past performances of the music selected in order to understand the formal structure of the music.

4.   Analysing the overall structure of the music such as the participating instruments, melodic and harmonic properties, shaping of phrases, rhythmic details, tone quality, tempo and dynamics.

5.   Transcribing,  arranging  and  even  adapting  some  music  for  other  instruments  if necessary.

6.   Distributing part roles to the participating musicians based on individual competence.

7.   Rehearsing the selected music extensively with the accompanying musicians.

8.   Making a performative turn.

The term performative which emanated from linguistic studies literally refers to utterances that signify the performance of an act. The model of performative turn as put forward by Cook (2015) challenged the representation of the musical score as a carrier and transmitter of objective knowledge thereby forming a more dynamic understanding that the musical work is no longer conceived as a finished work but as an aesthetic event perpetually changing through each performance (Orning, 2017 p.80). Applying the model of performative turn connotes that the performer recreates the music with the intention to give new knowledge through sound. Most artistic music performances are, to a great extent, a new recontextualization and new translation of a musical work.

1.4       Aim and Objectives

The research work aims at performing with the saxophone to convey a convincing Nigerian musical perspective. The set objectives for the project are to:

1.   perform some Nigerian instrumental music for the saxophone,

2.   demonstrate the dexterity of the performer in playing the saxophone,

3.   provide historical details of the performance instrument,

4.   create a research context for subsequent studies on the saxophone,

5.   motivate performers in performing indigenous works for the saxophone,

6.   educate the active audience in the performance location and,

7.   share new knowledge.

1.5       Significance of the Study

Music performance studies are relatively new within the contemporary musicology in Nigeria and beyond; consequently, some researchers have lamented the laxity of seasoned musicologists in exploring the music performance phenomenon. Dack (2012) observes that “live performance is an under-researched area within contemporary music performance studies, and currently there

is a very limited research context for studying the creation of a live performance of music involving a score” (p.1). In a similar stance, Heaton (2012) writes:

Performance practice in recent contemporary art music is an area that musicology has relatively left unexplored. Very few performers write about what they do; some contribute  in  an  anecdotal  way,  mostly  in  interviews;  and  some,  in  time-honored fashion, write treatises.  However, these forms of communication differ from those of earlier centuries in that they deal purely with technique, amounting to descriptive ‘how- to’ manuals of new and ‘extended’ techniques that tell us little about style or expression (p.1).

The saxophone recital generally showcases the dexterity of the performer on the instrument, provides the historical details of the saxophone, encourages its usefulness, and creates a research context for subsequent studies. Kartomi (2014) also observes that “music performance is a universal human activity which musicologists and performer-scholars have begun to wrestle with pertaining issues such as explaining the ‘magic’ of an exceptional performance only in recent decades” (p.189). In every music performance, knowledge or ‘meaning’, according to Cook (2014) is generated and shared:

The basic principle of performance studies is that meaning is generated in the act of performance. To think of music as performance is therefore to focus on how meaning is created in real time – in the act of performing it, and equally in the act of hearing it, whether live or on a recording. It’s to focus on the different meanings that result from the different ways that music is performed, or has been performed at different times and places, and on the relationships this involves or creates between performers, listeners, and the musical work as a tradition regulated – in the case of Western ‘art’ music – by documentation (p.6).

The compositions obtained, transcriptions, adaptations and arrangements done for this research work will hopefully add to the existing repertoire for the saxophone music performance studies in Nigeria.

1.6       Performance Location and Materials

The performance was designed to take place at the Department of Music Auditorium, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The audience in focus is predominantly lecturers and students of the Department of Music, University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The audience is a contingent of music elites who can analyze, appreciate and criticize the intricate elements of the selected music and its performance exigency. The following works were, therefore, selected for the recital:

Title of Work                                      Composer                               Arranger

1.   Rhapsody in C major                         O’ Ndubuisi                                    –

2.   Asaadua                                              J.H Nketia                                      –

3.   Awka Adighi                                      A.O Adeogun                                 –

4.   Grazing in the Grass                           Philemon Hou                        Hugh Masekela

5.   Nigerian Hip-Hop Medley                 Flavour – D’banj – Timaya.             –

6.   Low Profile                                        Lekan Animashaun                          –

7.   Afro Highlife Medley                        E.T Mensah – Osita Osadebe           –

Musical instruments needed for the performance include soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor  saxophone,  DJ,  electric  keyboard,  bass  guitar,  and  drum  set.  African  percussive instruments will also be used for accompaniment.

1.7       Scope and delimitation of the Study

The study largely concentrated on the Nigerian instrumental music for the saxophone within the art and popular music domains. However, one composition from great Nketia of Ghana was featured just like that of Hugh Masekela of South Africa. The pieces of music were carefully selected to reflect the vision of the performer in presenting a memorable and thrilling performance.

1.8       Research Methodology

Practice-based research method was primarily used for this study coupled with the historical and descriptive designs.

In practice-based research, the creative artefact is the basis of the contribution to knowledge. This method is applied to original investigations seeking new knowledge through practice and its outcomes. Claims of originality are demonstrated through the creative artefacts, which include musical performances, musical recordings, fiction,

scripts,  digital  media,  games,  film,  dramatic performances,  poetry,  translation,  and other forms of creative practice (Lyle Skains 2018, p.86).

In  this  music  performance  context,  the  claim  of  originality  lies  on  the  presentation  of  the rehearsed music before an audience. On the other hand, Rust, Mottram and Till (2007) defines practice-led research as the “research in which the professional and/or creative practices of art, design or architecture play an instrumental part in an inquiry” (p.11). Historical research designs guides this study in making critical inquiry into the accessible music performance literature. The first step taken was gathering of research data through consulting sources such as electronic recordings, music library, the internet, eBooks, and journals. Owing to the dearth of composed music for the saxophone in Nigeria, the researcher approached composers to compose for the instrument. Special arrangements of some popular music were done for the study. “Rhapsody in C Major” for flute and piano composed by Okechukwu Ndubuisi was adapted for soprano saxophone while Asaadua, Nketia’s composition for solo violin and piano was also adapted for this study.  The transcription of Nigerian Hip-hop, Highlife and Afro-beat songs was also done for the study. The researcher also studied a collection of performed works of notable performers and composers like Bisi Ologunde (Lagbaja), Lekan Animashaun, Imoleayo Balogun, Mccoy Mrubata and Fela Anipolakuti via midi, video and other audio formats. Popular songs selected for the study were transcribed, analyzed, and rehearsed extensively.

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