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David Fanshawe African Sanctus Analysis Essay

African Sanctus is a universal work whose impact is immediate, whose message is simple, the driving force is one of Praise and a firm believe in One Music - One God. It informs both listener and performer about African music and its relationship to Western polyphony and captures the eternal and spiritual soul of music. It is an event, a celebration of power and energy, both visual, aural and multi-cultural, now performed live all over the world.  For David Fanshawe there are no musical barriers.

African Sanctus is an unorthodox setting of the Latin Mass harmonised with traditional African music recorded by the composer on his now legendary journeys up the River Nile (1969-73).  The taped music from Egypt, Sudan, Uganda and Kenya is heard in counterpoint with the live chorus, soprano soloist and instrumental ensemble.  The work is composed in 13 movements and reflects geographically the composer’s cross-shaped pilgrimage, from the Mediterranean to Lake Victoria, whereby Kyrie represents Cairo and Sanctus Northern Uganda.

  1. AFRICAN SANCTUS
    Acholi Bwala dance, North Uganda
  2. KYRIE: CALL TO PRAYER
    Mu'azzin from the Muhammad Ali Mosque, Cairo
  3. GLORIA: BRIDE OF THE NILE
    Egyptian wedding, Luxor
    Islamic prayer school, East Sudan
  4. CREDO: SUDANESE DANCES
    Courtship dances, Kiata trumpet dance
    Koranic recitations, Marra mountains
  5. LOVE SONG: PIANO SOLO
    Hadandua cattle boy with Bazenkop harp
    Desert bells, East Sudan
  6. ET IN SPIRITUM SANCTUM
    Frogs, Zande refugees of South Sudan
  7. CRUCIFIXUS: RAIN SONG
    Dingi Dingi dance, rains & thunder
    "Rain Song" by Latigo Oteng, Uganda
  8. SANCTUS: BWALA DANCE
    Bunyoro madinda xylophone
    Acholi Bwala dance, Uganda
  9. THE LORD'S PRAYER
    Lamentation, Lake Kyoga, Uganda
    The Offertory (in English)
  10. CHANTS
    Masai milking song, Kenya
    Song of the river, Karamoja, Uganda
    Turkana cattle song, Luo ritual burial dance, Kenya
  11. AGNUS DEI
    Hadandua war drums in the desert, Sudan
  12. CALL TO PRAYER: KYRIE (reprise)
    Mu'azzin from the Muhammad Ali Mosque, Cairo
  13. FINALE & GLORIA
    Acholi Bwala dance, North Uganda
  • (optional)
    DONA NOBIS PACEM
    A Hymn for World Peace
    (short or long version)

Text of the composed music taken from the Latin Mass and Anglican Liturgy (The Lord's Prayer).
Field recordings made by the composer in Egypt, Sudan, Uganda and Kenya (1969-73).

© 2002

African Sanctus is a 1972 choral Mass and is the best-known work of Britishcomposer and ethnomusicologistDavid Fanshawe.[1]

In African Sanctus the Latin Mass is juxtaposed with live recordings of traditional African music, which the composer had recorded himself between 1969 and 1973 during a journey up the Nile, from the Mediterranean Sea to Lake Victoria. The work consists of 13 movements and follows the journey of the composer through Africa. The recordings are from Egypt, the Sudan, Uganda and Kenya.

A key moment in the conception of African Sanctus came at the beginning of Fanshawe's 1969 journey, in Egypt. Sitting in a Christian church he heard the muezzin of a nearby mosque calling the faithful to prayer, and imagined this beautiful sound in counterpoint with Western choral harmony.[2] Originally entitled African Revelations, African Sanctus was first performed in London by the Saltarello Choir in July 1972, and was later played on BBC Radio on United Nations Day.

On Easter Sunday, 1975, a documentary about the making of the work was broadcast on BBC1's Omnibus programme. Made by composer and film-maker Herbert Chappell, this charted Fanshawe's progress recording the work in North and East Africa, and coincided with the release of the album. The two men retraced Fanshawe's original journey and tried, largely unsuccessfully, to find the musicians he had recorded on his original trip. The documentary was nominated for the 'Prix Italia'.[2][3]

Following the publication of the full score in 1977, premiere performances were given in Toronto, Worcester Cathedral in 1978, and the Royal Albert Hall in 1979, which was conducted by Sir David Willcocks.[3] The work has received over a thousand performances, from North America to the Far East, with Fanshawe himself supervising many of the performances, sometimes accompanying the work with a slideshow of the photographs of the musicians he had recorded.[2]

In 1994 Fanshawe composed an additional movement for a new recording of the work, the "Dona Nobis Pacem - A Hymn for World Peace", which completed the "Agnus Dei". Based on this new recording, the BBC commissioned the maker of the 1975 documentary, Herbert Chappell, to make a new programme, African Sanctus Revisited,

Movements[edit]

The work is composed in 13 movements and reflects geographically the composer’s cross-shaped pilgrimage, from the Mediterranean to Lake Victoria, whereby 'Kyrie' represents Cairo and 'Sanctus' Northern Uganda.

Acholi Bwala dance, North Uganda

Muezzin from the Muhammad Ali Mosque, Cairo

  • 3 GLORIA: BRIDE OF THE NILE

Egyptian wedding, Luxor Islamic prayer school, East Sudan

Courtship dances, Kiata trumpet dance Koranic recitations, Marra mountains

Hadandua cattle boy with Bazenkop harp Desert bells, East Sudan

Frogs, Zande refugees of South Sudan

Dingi Dingi dance, rains & thunder "Rain Song" by Latigo Oteng, Uganda

Bunyoro madinda xylophone Acholi Bwala dance, Uganda

Lamentation, Lake Kyoga, Uganda The Offertory (in English)

Maasai milking song, Kenya Song of the river, Karamoja, Uganda Turkana cattle song, Luo ritual burial dance, Kenya

Hadandua war drums in the desert, Sudan

  • 12 CALL TO PRAYER: KYRIE (reprise)

Mu'azzin from the Muhammad Ali Mosque, Cairo

Acholi Bwala dance, North Uganda

  • DONA NOBIS PACEM (optional)

A Hymn for World Peace (short or long version)

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Album cover from recording of African Sanctus

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