- Originates from the Ewe people as a War dance (lived on western Africa)
- This was performed to the village before or after battles. Nowdays it is witnessed in community/social gatherings (or for tourists)
- Agbekor translates to 'clear life'
- No formal structure to the dance - dancers changed moves according to changes in accompaniment.
- This is an oral tradition which passed from generation to generation without written music.
- Ewe people have skilled drummers and believe them to have inherited spirit of ancestors.
Performing Forces and their Handling
Three main instruments playing in the dance
- Gankogui - has two bells with one high pitch and one low pitch approx. an 8vte apart. Played with wooden stick. Acts as time keeper.
- Sogo - 'father' drum, barrel shaped and played with sticks + hands. Acts as supporting drum in this piece.
- Atsimevu - 'grandfather'/'master' drum. Largest drum in Ewe music. Play similar to sogo but finger, hands + sticks can use diff parts of drum head to create diff timbres. Can hit side of the drum.
African music drumming + speech connected. Wide range of pitches leads Atsimevu to being called 'talking drum'.
'Master' drum is played by master drummer = most skilled. He communicated perforamance directions to other players + responisible for most complex parts (improvisations).
Mustapha Tettey Addy is master here (famous Ghanaian musician).
- Opening section is monophonic gankogui.
- Ganjogui plays ostinato
- 2 part texture 1/2 way through b1 with entry of Atsimevu
- 3 part texture b3 - arrival of sogo, polyrhythmic
- Variant b29-30 arsimevu + gankogui rhythmic unison for 2 ostinato cycles
- Homorhythm final 3 notes
Structure is related to function (in this piece dance). Repetition is main structural feature. Sutble variations to create interest.
- Gankogui ostinato is repeated all the way through with no alteration
- This ostinato commonly found is sub-Saharan Africa and called 'standard bell pattern'
- Sogo contains repetition of 3 quaver figure. Simple variants (added semiquavers b6 - dotted rhythm b36)
- Atsimevu begins with dotted crotchets but patterns later grows in complexity.
Melody + Tonality/Harmony
- Apart from Gankogui part all pitches are approximate and cannot be considered melodic
- Some sense of pitch with Sogo and Atsimevu
- Atsimevu has high + low notes with 4 different pitches almost extending to range of an 8tve.
- Gankogui contains octave interval from A to A.
- Neither tonality nor harmony can emerge from this piece.
Rhythmic and Metric features
- Main beat fundemental to music. Gankogui empahsised this by playing low octave note on downbeat in ostinato
- Polyrhythmic throughout.
- Crossrhythms are common. (b14)
- Atsimevu part contains: triplets (b41), ties (b44), double dotting (b8), unusual accents (b14), irregular rhythms (b38)
- Syncapations are permanent feature
- Sogo plays 3 quaver pattern but rhythmically displaced - gives anapaestic effect through piece
- Master drummer b14 displaces his rhythm one quaver before main beat
- Metrical disruption in Atsimevu part(b35)