African Myth: The First Music

As one of my last entries of this collection, I wanted to explore a folk tale from Africa to continue to take a multicultural approach. Not knowing where else to find performances of African folk stories, I again turned to YouTube and found another children’s cartoon presented by August House, the same publisher of the Vietnamese folk tale in an earlier entry. Dylan Pritchett narrates the story “The First Music.”

The story begins with “In the beginning, the African forest had many sounds,” and continues to explain the noises each animal in the African plains made. There is the yelping of the hyena, the roaring of the lion, etc. “Suddenly, a noise like thunder rose through the air,” which caused the animals to stop talking. It was the elephant that had made the noise by beating a log with his front foot. The elephant liked the drum-like sound and continued beating it. This caused the monkey to start dancing, which rustled the leaves and made a rattling noise. The two sounds complimented each other, and the other animals began to join in. The crane landed on the crocodile’s back and began “rocking back and forth” so that it played another noise. All the other animals joined in, except the frogs who were silent. The frogs claimed their short legs and hands could not dance. They played for seven days until they wanted to rest. This is when the frogs began singing. This started a new beat that got the animals interested in playing more music with this different beat. The frogs realized “everyone has something to add when it comes to making music.”

The tale has an inclusive message about how everyone can participate in music. It aims to explore how everyone may participate differently, but it is those differences that make music so unique and interesting. I was surprised to see the tale attribute the first music to the animals, as I thought there would be some mentioning of man replicating the animal sounds. However, it focused only on the animals, making it a nature-based folk tale that is an interesting addition to this collection.

Source: August House. “The First Music.” 2001.