The music of Africa and the music of Ireland may well have been drawing from the same influence: song birds.
Three young Irish students have been investigating a very interesting link between the traditional music of Ireland, Africa and the song birds that migrate between the two countries as the seasons change. Patrick Sweeney, Cloe Daniels and Annette Moran of Carrick-on-Shannon Community School are all passionate about Irish music, and accomplished musicians, and they wanted to investigate the theory that there is a connection between Irish Sean-Nós song and traditional music of parts of Africa.
Sitting in bed one morning, Patrick noted that one of the bird songs was similar to a traditional Irish jig, and that the connection between all three elements, given that the swallows move to Africa in the winter, might not be a coincidence.
Pic via Wikipedia
Speaking to Science Spin, Patrick explained that the similarity between the two traditional forms of music is not just in the notes, but in the rhythm, and by using audio programs, the three students were able to graph out the songs so that they could take a more scientific approach to the investigation. As an example, he highlighted that the song of the Irish blackbird is clearly evident in the format of a typical Irish jig, and that the effect that birds have on local music seems to be quite pronounced.
The early results show that the similarities that they heard can be spotted by eye too on the graphs in the peaks and troughs of the music, and that the geographical borders that birds don't cross may help to explain the differences between the types of music played in the East and West. There's more work to be done, but this is definitely a fascinating subject, and this young group of students are ones to keep an eye on.