Photo Credit: Teenage priestesses of Blekete at a ritual in an Ewe
villiage in Ghana, West Africa

Foundation Course In African Dance-Drumming


oundation Course in African Dance Drumming is aimed at the beginning students who wish to understand and perform African music. The materials presented will make possible a development of the musical skills necessary for efficient performance of African dance drumming. At the same time that the student learns to understand the principles and the techniques of performing the music, he will become informed of something of the civilization, culture, customs, and the way of life of the people whose music he is studying.

Recognizing the necessity of a thorough knowledge of rhythmic principles, regardless of what musical style is performed, special attention has been placed first upon a gradual, logical, and clear presentation of all materials, and then upon adequate and varied drill exercises. Emphasis is also placed on practical exercises in the performance techniques within the experience of the average student. Each lesson presents not only a number of new rhythmic and melodic ideas, along with a thorough explanation of the techniques of their proper applications, but also repeats systematically much of the materials from earlier lessons.

In Africa, dance drumming is based on a common core of traditions belonging to the groups, traditions which help the groups have a sense of group identity. The knowledge of these cultural values are generally acquired as one grows gradually within the context of traditional life by watching, listening, and participating without necessarily being instructed. The extreme diversity of both the groups and the materials have impeded the teaching of the performance of African dance drumming outside the confines of traditional African life.

Foundation Course in African Dance Drumming, however, draws largely on a teaching method developed at the University of California, Berkeley to teach non-Africans, with remarkable success, how to perform traditional African dance drumming with subtlety and comprehension similar to that of the African. It maps out the various cultural biases or habits that form the way of thinking of the Anlo-Ewe musician in Ghana and presents them in logical sequences in lessons and drill exercises to encourage the students to acquire the habits. Care is taken to state the explanations simply but adequately and in terms easily understood by beginning students. Throughout the text, emphasis is placed upon a gradual acquirement of the general principles which may arise naturally from the usage of the drill exercises included in these pages. Though the principles are all drawn from the Anlo-Ewe people of Ghana, a small part of sub-saharan Africa, much of these values are shared also by a large number of ethnic groups in sub-saharan Africa.

In the preparation of this textbook, we are grateful for valuable suggestions and constructive criticism offered by many colleagues and students who have participated in the African Music Ensemble classes at the University of California, Berkeley.
C. K. Ladzekpo
Department of Music
University of California at Berkeley

Introduction To Anlo-Ewe Culture And History

© Copyright 1995 C. K. Ladzekpo
All Rights Reserved

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Note: these pages are constantly under construction. We are always adding material about the music and culture of the Ewe and other African ethnic groups, along with related graphics, sound, and videos that you can download.

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Richard Hodges