The music of Nigeria includes many kinds of Folk and popular music, some of which are known worldwide. Styles of folk music are related to the multitudes of ethnic groups in the country, each with their own techniques, instruments, and songs. Little is known about the country’s music history prior to European contact, although bronze carvings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries have been found depicting musicians and their instruments.
Nigeria has been called “the heart of African music” because of its role in the development of West African highlife and palm-wine music, which fuses native rhythms with techniques imported from the Congo for the development of several popular styles that were unique to Nigeria, like apala, fuji, jùjú, highlife, and Yo-pop. Subsequently, Nigerian musicians created their own styles of United States hip hop music and Jamaican reggae. Nigeria’s musical output has achieved international acclaim not only in the fields of folk and popular music, but also Western art music written by composers such as Fela Sowande.
Polyrhythms, in which two or more separate beats are played simultaneously, are a part of much of traditional African music; Nigeria is no
exception. The African hemiola style, based on the asymmetric rhythm pattern is an important rhythmic technique throughout the continent. Nigerian music also uses ostinato rhythms, in which a rhythmic pattern is repeated despite changes in metre.
Nigeria has some of the most advanced recording studio technology in Africa, and provides robust commercial opportunities for music performers. Ronnie Graham, an historian who specialises in West Africa, has attributed the success of the Nigerian music industry to the country’s culture—its “thirst for aesthetic and material success and a voracious appetite for life, love and music, [and] a huge domestic market, big enough to sustain artists who sing in regional languages and experiment with indigenous styles”. However, political corruption and rampant music piracy in Nigeria has hampered the industry’s growth.