Afrikosmos: an African Mikrokosmos by Michael Blake

Afrikosmos: an African Mikrokosmos by Michael Blake

“Afrikosmos”, composed by the South African composer Michael Blake, is an African answer to Bela Bartók’s “Mikrokosmos”. With“Afrikosmos”, Blake has composed a guide for composers of new African or neo-African music. Just as “Mikrokosmos”, “Afrikosmos” is comprised of six volumes and Blake has followed Bartóks’ method of starting with the easiest pieces progressing to the advanced works in the last part.

Each volume has the same form, with one or more pieces in each of the following genres: studies, pieces based on rhythm and texture, character pieces, dances, pieces exploring a mode or scale, arrangements and variations of folksongs, transcriptions and hommages.

A few pieces are piano transcriptions of existing music, but most of them are written in a neo-African style, or mirror Blakes’ own esthetic, which is based on African music and the esthetic of new music starting in the mid-1970’s.

These influences include:
- The anhemitonic pentatonic scale: a five tone scale without half tones, for example, D-E-G-A-B;
- Xhosa bow string harmony: two triads built on the two fundamental pitches of an uhadi bow, for example, C-E-G- and D-F#-A;
- Bow scale: the hexatonic scale resulting from the merging the two aforementioned chords: C-D-E-F#-G-A (not the whole tone hexatonic scale, as used by Debussy, for example);
- Interlocking: contrasting rhythmic parts interchanging with each other to form one line, giving the perception of great speed;
- polyrhythms: the simultaneous combination of contrasting rhythms.

This unique series of piano books contain 75 pieces increasing in difficulty. The first book is already suitable for the beginning pianist who has reached level 2.

All six books are published by Bardic Edition and can be purchased from Goodmusic Publishers.

You can listen to and download all the piano pieces on the composer's website.