Repackaging Igbo folksongs for global acceptance: towards reviving and preserving the musical heritage of a Nigerian community

Published in: Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa
Volume 14, issue 1-2, 2017 , pages: 53–67
DOI: 10.2989/18121004.2017.1410989
Author(s): Alvan-Ikoku O NwamaraDepartment of Music, Nigeria


The entire life of an average Igbo (from cradle to grave) revolves round the arts generally and most especially the musical arts. Many aesthetic features of a wide range of the arts of music, dance and drama fill the lives and environments of Igbo rural communities. As the very essence of culture, folk music forms the basis of people’s tradition and identity. Transmitted orally between generations, it does not necessarily conform to the music of any other culture. However, in some cases it may share common factors, elements or characteristics with those of other ethnic groups around the country. Recent studies have shown that the state of Igbo folksongs in the twenty-first century is not very encouraging. Although a few Igbo musicologists have made arrangements of some of the folksongs, transforming them into art music of some sort, the music has been to a great extent neglected and relegated to the background by the present generation, especially the youth, such that it may eventually become a lost heritage. Unfortunately, many musicologists fail to realise this unhealthy development and consequently do very little or nothing to salvage the situation. This article therefore sets out to draw the attention of Igbo musicologists and all other stakeholders, while highlighting the attempts made so far towards ‘repackaging’ these folksongs for global acceptance and for posterity. Describing these trends holds the potential of creating a better future for the Igbo musical tradition and culture.

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