In Africa, South and Central America

In Madagascar, Cuba, Brazil and in the "Tierra del Fuego" region in Argentina there is evidence of the art of improvisation.

Henri Basset relates many cases of improvisation by the Berbers "who have always been extremely sensitive to music, or more precisely song. Nowhere is this taste as developed as with the "Chleuhs du Sous".

Many poems have three short parts, which can be improvised by anyone in any circumstance, during dances accompanied by song.

Women are no less expert in this type of exercise, they compose "izians" with as much ingenuity and eloquence as men. Improvisation is today still highly valued by the "Touaregs", a nomad people also of Berber origin living in the Sahara.

In Jean Ithurriagues book (former curator of the Basque Museum in Bayonne, author of "A people who sing: the Basques". 1947, Editions Edimpress, Paris out of print), we learn than amongst Arab improvisers, the name of Kansa remains famous. He improvised a poem in memory of his two dead brothers for twenty years. One morning the chief Omar called for him and asked him to repeat one of his elegies: "I wont repeat it, Ill improvise a new one," he answered. And so it was.

Map of oral improvisation

Africa (North-West)

  • Sahara Desert
  • Canary Islands
  • Azores
  • Cape Verde
  • Mauritania

South America

  • Ecuador
  • Peru
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Argentina

Central America

  • Mexico
  • Santo Domingo
  • Puerto Rico
  • Panama
  • Colombia
  • Venezuela