South African Music

The South African music history is one of interchange with introduced forms, and fluctuating degrees of hybridisation across thousands of years.

South African music has created itself from its colonial years up to present, out of the intermingling of local ideas to imported forms form outside, giving African sound a unique twist carried out with unmistakeable essence of this rainbow nationally country.

The Dutch colonial era which would be the17th century, indigenous tribespeople even slaves smuggled from eastern countries brought with them Western instruments which enriched music as well as several other ideas.


The Khoi-Khoi developed the ramkie, best described as a three for four string guitar, based on that belonging to Malabar slaves, used to merger western folk song and Khoi.

The mamokhorong well to describe this imagine a single-string violin, again used by Khoi people in music-making during dances. South Africa rapidly stirred several cultural flavours in its melting pot of influences from all over the world.

Slave orchestras played Western music, the Cape governor in the 1670s had a personal slave orchestra. Mixed blood travelling musicians moved around colonies entertaining at functions and dances a tradition that sustained into the 1806 era of British domination.

Similar to British military bands, mixed race bands began marching through the streets in the early 1820s, added impetus minstrel shows in the 1880s now great carnivals in Cape Town

In 1897, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika translated meaning God Bless Africa was composed by a teacher called Enoch Sontonga, adopted by the liberation movement it National Anthem of a democratic South Africa.

Choirs emphasised by missionary combines traditional vocals of South Africa with other elements, which gave rise to capella singing, blends indigenous harmonies with Western hymns. The custom still alive in the isicathamiya form Black Mambazo are the most famous.

Oldest traditional music known in South Africa is vocals, accompanying dances with drumming rhythm social gatherings involved with intricate patterns.

Several modern bands have conquered the world from Southern Africa, Johnny Clegg was an anthropologist performing innovative dance styles with Savuka and Juluka, and he became one of the first vocalists and song writers to cross racial grounds and attracted both black and white fans.

Mango Groove followed his footsteps, the Afropop group existed of 11 members and consisted of white and black members. Their lead vocalist a white 17 year old with a Bachelor’s Degree in Art, Claire Johnston. Huge hits included Dance Some More, Moments Away, Another Country and Eat A Mango.

The music culture in South African is mainly formed from diverse genres, from kwaito, to hip hop, gospel, alternative rock and for thousands Jazz has a special place. Kwaito unique to South African house music beats based on a typically slower tempo, branded by melodious and percussive sounds, profound basslines, shouted or chanted vocals most often performed by male vocalists.

South African singer Steve Hofmeyr is an actor, songwriter and singer and most of all an activist for Afrikaner rights, in his musical career several of his tracks topped the charts, including Pampoen, Agter Elke Man, Toeka and Pa En Seun.

Ge Korsten was an internationally loved opera tenor and actor who had a huge impact on the South African music culture and for over three decades no other male opera singer could hold candle to the undoubted quality of his voice.