Rethinking Nigerian Popular Musicology: the What, Why and How
Nigerian music scholarship began with indigenous music in 1890, popular music in 1962 and literary art music in 1967. Although the scholarly study of popular music began earlier than art music, it suffered neglect for several years that caused it to lag in the literature despite its rise in prominence as the most patronized music in Nigeria by the 1970s. Popular music eventually became part of the Nigerian music academy in 1981 at the instance of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan without addressing fundamental questions about what, why, and how it should be studied. That is what this paper addresses. Data for this study was obtained from literary sources and from experiences gleaned from being a participant observer at the Institute of African Studies between 1986 and 2009 and my interactions with two key lecturers (S. E. Akpabot, 1932 – 2000 and M. A. Omibiyi-Obidike, 1943 – 2016). This study indicates that popular music is entertainment music that is media-dependent and studied for its social significance with multidisciplinary methods. Given the foregoing, popular music is likely to become the most studied music category in Nigeria in the next two decades.
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