Classical Music

odienye O'Mailey, a younger generation classical music singer tutored by Adam Fiberesima in 1994 here sings with a young Soprano singer.
Sodienye O’Mailey, a younger generation classical music singer tutored by Adam Fiberesima in 1994 here sings with a young Soprano singer. Photo: koraltimes blog. Audio after first par. is MUSON Choir rendition of Fela Sowande’s “Messiah Baba Mi.”

Classical music is a cultivated or art music descended from western tradition. Usually depicting seriousness, this type of music, as opposed to most everyday music are often written in form of staff notation.  Classical music had impacted on the scene many centuries ago, long before the advent of Jazz and popular music. It marked the beginning of a musical culture for Europe and some of post-modern civilized foreign countries, the way indigenous idoms like Apala, Sakara, Goge, Kalangu among others, did in Nigeria. Although classical music accommodates by far more variations than most users of the term understand, it usually refers to the art music of the era of Mozart to Haydn in the western world. And in this regard names such as Handel, a musician and composer of German birth noted for the Messiah and over 40 operas; Tchaikovsky, a Russian composer who wrote songs, opera, and symphonies readily come to mind. Others include German composer, musician Sebastian Bach with the legacy of over 190 cantatas including oratorios, concertos and organ works, prominent among them, Jesu joy of man’s desiring. They are many, and in death their works have continued to influence music scholars all over the world, including Nigeria where the likes of Fela Sowande, Ayo Bankole, Christopher Oyesiku, Adam Fiberessima among others, stick out prominently.

Classical music has several other respectably sacred names like ‘serious’, ‘concert’, and ‘music of the masters’. And this is perhaps why adherents of the music see it as being superior to other forms of music. This is why Jazz which followed after was regarded with some disdain and inferiority. These adherents call Jazz the name it bears today. Even though Jazz has come to be recognized as a creative art form originated by black Americans, its real meaning is derogatory, “empty, meaningless talk”. And this is also why over the years, exponents have tried to alter the name to “Black Music,” something more meaningful and prestigious. However, as ‘classical’ and ‘serious’ as the music is, it is the composer’s art because its entire essence in terms of rendition is predicated on the concept of the composer. On the other hand, Jazz and popular music which constitute the performer’s art evolved from the primitive sounds created by the slaves who were drafted from Africa to work on the American plantations. They created music from sticks, stones, and other objects. They wailed, grunted and hummed- to lessen drudgery and heighten productivity. Instrumentally, music made by slaves in American plantations eventually transformed into New Orleans Jazz because New Orleans happened to accommodate the largest concentration of slaves at the time.  Two of the early notable exponents of the music were Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver in whose band Louis Amstrong served his apprenticeship as sideman, developing on his trumpet. Friends who were lovers of classical music, Akintola Williams, Louis Mbanefo, Ayo Rosiji, Rasheed Gbadamosi, and Francesca Emmanuel founded the Music Society of Nigeria (MUSON) in 1983 to promote the art in Nigeria. History of the Classical music as appeared here was adapted from article by Benson Idonije, Great Music of the Millennium, published in the Arts session of The Guardian newspapers of 1 January, 2000.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer