It is a modernised folk music form that is built on the aesthetics of local folk music in Kenya. It is characterised by emphasis on intricate percussive rhythms built in layers inspired by idioms from various parts of the country, minimalism in ensemble arrangement, flowing melodies and story like lyrics. There is also major rhythmic emphasis within the melodic instrument parts. The music relies on the bass to set the mood and the percussion section to drive it.
The music heavily relies on antiphony, community, movement, overlapping, syncopation, ostinato and counterpoint; characteristics that are essential to the music traditions found in the folk musics of the country.
The instruments associated with this genre are various traditional instruments from the peoples of Kenya, the bass guitar, synthesizer and the violin.
Changanya is a Swahili word meaning “to mix”. The Changanya movement began in 2018; an idea born from a third year lecture on popular music in Africa at The Kenyatta University department of music and dance (main campus). The lecturer Dr. Nganyi Wetaba challenged the class to create a new music genre that has never been heard of before to succeed our fading local pop music expression that had blossomed during the post-colonial times. My colleagues and I came up with various names and descriptions which inspired me to take on the name Changanya suggested by Doreen Inyaite and build it into what it is today.
While I, Nabalayo, call myself the mother of Changanya, I do share the custody of this beautiful ‘child’ with the Bachelor of music class of 2019 who supported my pursuit of this music and gave valuable input the during the formative stages and the lecturers of the department who provided material and knowledge to inspire the dream.
The movement is an expression of reclaiming the beauty of the culture that was lost to us during colonial times, to put it into the contemporary context and to ensure that our local expression lives on. It aims to demonstrate the value and richness of Kenyan cultural heritage both to Kenya and to the global music scene.