Agbekor dance - traditional Ewe

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  • Created by: Annie
  • Created on: 07-02-12 12:01


  • West Africa - Ewe people of Ghana
  • Musical heritage is rich in rhythmic complexity
  • Simultaneous layers of opposing rhythms produces a texture known as polyrhythm - gives music a sense of vitality
  • In many parts of Africa, drums have special significance as symbols of political or religious power - often associated with tribal chiefs and royal families
  • African musicians do not refer to playing their instruments, but to teaching them how to speak - they do not like playing drums from other regions because these 'do not speak the same language' 
  • This link between language and music is important
  • The relative pitch of spoken words affect their meaning in most African languages and these inflexions can be imitated by the 'talking drum' to communicate messages
  • The performance is directed by a master drummer, who, on this recording, is Mustapha Tettey Addy

The dance

  • The agbekor is a ritual war dance which was originally intended to be a preparation for battle
  • Nowadays it is performed for entertainment at social gatherings and cultural presentations
  • The dance is presented in platoon form (with the dancers in one or more lines)
  • It features stylised movements to represent such features as reconnaissance, surprise attack and hand-to-hand combat
  • Main part of the dance is fast-paced

The instruments

  • Each of the instruments has a fixed and unchanging role in the performance
  • The gangkogui consists of two bells joined by one handle and struck with a wooden beater
  • The bells are made from iron and in NAM 62 are roughly an octave apart in pitch
  • The main function of the gangkogui is to play a repeating pattern called a time line - a rhythmic obstinate which acts as…


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