A study of the drum language in Adzogbo

  • David L. Locke University of Nairobi, Institute of African Studies, Nairobi
  • Godwin Kwasi Agbeli Ghanaian performer, choreographer, dance teacher, researcher in Ghana, Togo, Benin, Tanzania and Senegal


The Eve-speaking people of the Guinea Coast of West Africa are rightly renowned for their highly developed drumming and dancing. Among the most exciting of their dances is Adzogbo, originally a warriors dance of the Fspeaking people of the ancient kingdom of Dahomey and now a recreational dance for the Fand Eve people of southern Benin, Togo and Ghana. Adzogbo is one of the most complex of the Eve dances, both in the intricacy of its polyrhythmic texture and the precise relationship of the rhythms of the master drum to the vigorous movements of the dancers. An outstanding feature of Adzogbo is the key role of drum language in the dance: every sequence of dance movements is introduced by a spoken or sung text which is then almost exactly reproduced in the rhythms of the master drum. Adzogbo thus provides excellent material for an analysis of drum language, especially the relationship between speech tone and drum strokes. In this article we shall sketch the general background of the dance and then look in detail at six examples of spoken texts and their associated drum rhythms.


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How to Cite
Locke, D. L., and G. K. Agbeli. “A Study of the Drum Language in Adzogbo”. African Music: Journal of the International Library of African Music, Vol. 6, no. 1, July 1980, pp. 32-51, doi:https://doi.org/10.21504/amj.v6i1.1093.