Is it Difficult to Play African Music on Guitar?

How difficult is it to play African Music on guitar? Today we answer this question. The fact is, music is truly amazing. There are so many different ways to express feelings and create art that’s unique to the player. Most tunes will fall into one of the many different categories, and it can often be a great idea to learn more about some of the variations that are out there. Whether you can use it to learn more about your own style or you’d love to play songs of a particular genre, there are plenty of reasons why this can be fantastic for both new players and experts alike.



Africa has some outstanding musical potential for any guitarist to tap into, and all it takes is some time, practice, and dedication to be able to understand what makes this type of music so incredible. Not only that, but African music in itself has a broad range of styles that pretty much anyone can learn to play on the guitar, whether they’re a beginner or a more advanced musician.

This offers even more room for creativity to shine through in your work, so if you’re interested in African music, it’s well worth finding out more.

How diverse is African music?

As mentioned above, there are many different kinds of African music that can be played on the guitar, but just how many styles are there? Well, while it’s hard to put an exact number on it, the fact that Africa is made up of 55 different countries and that each of those has their own unique take on their overall sound should give you a bit of an idea just how much variation there is.

African Music

People from the Congo River Basin for example tend to have more complex singing and instrumentals in their music, whereasthose from the Southern African deserts often favor much more simplistic compositions. East Africans are better known for the xylophones used in their songs, and tribes from the West Coast are traditionally known for their skills on the drums. It sometimes varies greatly from one area to another, and from playstyle to instruments, there are just so many different factors that contribute to the end result.

As more people learn about the different styles and cultures, you’ll find that they can be blended together to create something entirely new. The opportunity that comes with African music and learning more about it is simply fantastic, purely because there’s so much potential to be enjoyed.

Learning everything relating to African music is certainly going to be a difficult task, so unless you really want to cover multiple sounds, there’s really no need to try. While each type is unique in its own right, you could easily just pick one and get stuck into finding out what makes it special and how to play it yourself.

The general style of African songs

While the broad spectrum of African music is certainly intriguing, there are a few elements that many songsfrom this region have in common that often set them apart from other music around the world.From having a number of small interlocking parts in the tune that fit together, to the type of guitar and how it’s used; it’s things like this that truly connect African songs of all varieties, while also differentiating them from other genres.

One of the main characteristics of African music is that the melodies tend to be quite short and simple, with small melodies often being repeated as the song goes on. Many artists change the tune up and improvise as they go when playing shows to create something a little more diverse and unexpected for their audience. This goes hand in hand when there are a group of musicians, where a guitarist might want to switch things up and a singer may stick to the original tune. It often works incredibly well and it’s not uncommon at all for an artist to improvise if they feel like creating a unique piece.

This is something that you could benefit from knowing if you’re interested in learning more about this type of music, and it could be useful even if you’re not planning on playing African tunes yourself. Often, just having an understanding of how different music is played and how other compositions work can help you to form your own unique style.

Other things to keep in mind:

1. Most African guitarists play Strat-style guitar, and although it’s not necessary to do the same, it is worth considering that there are ways of making a more authentic sound with the instrument you’re using

2. It’s well worth listening to some different African songs and dissecting them. Determining how certain styles vary from oneanother can be helpful if you want to learn how to replicate specific sounds within your own music, or even just to better understand what makes them unique

3. Music is an important part of Africa in a variety of ways, which is why it’s such a beautiful genre to listen to and learn about. Music has been vital to the people here for so long, with it being used for festivals and personal events for centuries. In many ways, part of what makes African music so special is the prevalence of it throughout the history and culture of the continent

Use online courses to help you on your journey

There are so many different lessons on the internet that could help you to improve as an artist – whether you’re new to it all and want to learnthe basics, or you’re looking to delve into the nuances of a particular genre. If you put in the time and effort to learn, there are a variety of great resources out there that could assist you onyour way to reaching your full potential as a musician.

We want to give new and experienced guitarists alike the opportunity to get a professional’s opinion on some of the most well known courses around. Want to know more? Click here to get a better idea of what we have to show you.

Watch this space for updates in the Music category on Running Wolf’s Rant.

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Henno Kruger

Blogger, Desktop Activist, Twitter / Facebook Addict, Music Festival Addict, Avid lover of South African music, Founder and owner of Running Wolf's Rant

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