Thomas Ekundayo Phillips

The Doyen of Nigerian Church Music
  • Also available as: E-Book
  • Published: January 2009
  • Format: Perfect Bound Softcover(B/W)
  • Pages: 196
  • Size: 6x9
  • ISBN: 9781440119095

The biography and music of Thomas King Ekundayo Phillips are synonymous with the history of Nigerian church music. His compositions chronicle the emergence of Nigerian church music from the nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Phillips’s works demonstrate the experimental stages of musical synthesis that began in the church, and in particular, elucidate the various levels of musical development and growth in Nigeria. By writing diverse musical genres, Phillips presents an array of compositional choices that are available to indigenous sacred music composers—liturgical, hymnological, choral, and instrumental pieces. Ekundayo Phillips’s compositions divulge the utilization of traditional source materials in contemporary compositions. In other words, Phillips’s Yoruba compositions are paradigms for employing traditional creative principles embedded in the Nigerian culture, and recombining them with modern techniques to create intercultural music. Phillips understood the problem of ethnic conflict in Nigeria; therefore, in some of his songs he calls for unity, peace, love, and national cohesion. Phillips’s compositions certainly fall within the category of intercultural musicology. His compositions represent the first attempts by native Nigerian composers in the experimental synthesis of diverse musical idioms in creating a truly hybrid composition. Indeed, credit is given to Phillips’s pioneer research on the word-music relationship, the utilization of indigenous pitch collections, as found in the traditional music, contrapuntal devices in choral music, indigenous polyphonic techniques, and text setting; all documented in his well-written book, Yoruba Music: Fusion of Speech and Music—a monumental gem and theory of Nigerian music.

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