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Arts, Music and Dance

isicathamiya, Soweto String Quartet, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, American swing, Hugh Masekela

South African music is characterized by its fusion of diverse musical forms from South Africa and overseas. By the 1950s unique musical styles had emerged, developed by black musicians in many South African townships. Township jazz, songs, dance, and popular music reflect a combination of traditional music, especially of the Zulu and Sotho peoples, with African American rhythm and blues, jazz, and blues. Some musicians who play in this hybrid style have won international acclaim, including Hugh Masekela, Mahlathini Nezintombi Zomgqashiyo, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Ladysmith Black Mambazo performs isicathamiya, a Zulu-influenced choral style that is sung a cappella, or without instrumental accompaniment.. The group became prominent through their collaboration with American singer and songwriter Paul Simon. Also of note are the accordion jive music of Nelcy Sedibe, which developed as township street music and was influenced by American swing, and the modern, electric versions of Zulu traditional music performed by Moses Mchunu. Classical composers have begun to experiment with traditional African musical instruments as well. The Soweto String Quartet has emerged as a important example of this approach.

The development of dance in recent years is linked to the development of protest musicals in the theater. Styles of dancing on the stage include the toyi-toyi, a militant marching dance adapted from South African protest marches, as well as traditional Zulu dances. There are three professional ballet companies in South Africa and several independent groups.

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