METER, FEEL, AND PHRASING IN WEST AFRICAN BELL PATTERNS: THE EXAMPLE OF ASANTE KETE FROM GHANA
AbstractThis article offers an analysis of west African bell patterns, positioning them as an entry to musical analysis of west African drumming. How can bell patterns be used as a tool by researchers to establish meter? What information do they provide about the “feel” of the music? And finally, how do these patterns interact with the underlying meter and feel, and what does this reveal about phrasing in west African music? To answer these questions, this article examines the case of the dawuro iron bell in Asante Kete drumming from Ghana. A close analysis of the Kete dawuro bell pattern reveals that the Kete pattern may be represented in an “African 12/8” or ternary-quadruple meter, emphasizes the importance of the half-time 2-feel embodying the Asante maxim of “not hurrying”, and demonstrates the highly motile and “goal-oriented” phrasing exemplified in Kete’s timeline patterns. To the broader west African and diasporic scholarly communities, this article presents a model for inferring meter, feel, and phrasing through close analysis of west African bell patterns.
Ampene, Kwasi. 2005. Female Song Tradition and the Akan of Ghana: The Creative Process in Nnwonkoro. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Limited.
Ampene, Kwasi and Nana Kwadwo Nyantakyi III. 2016. Engaging Modernity: Asante in the Twenty-First Century. Ann Arbor: Maize Books.
Anku, William Oscar. 1988 “Procedures in African Drumming: A Study of Akan/Ewe Traditions and African Drumming in Pittsburgh.” PhD Dissertation: University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh.
Burns, James. 2010 “Rhythmic Archetypes in Instrumental Music from Africa and the Diaspora.” Music Theory Online: A Journal of the Society for Music Theory 16 (4). http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.10.16.4/mto.10.16.4.burns.html. [Accessed May 2017].
Chernoff, John Miller. 1979. African Rhythm and African Sensibility: Aesthetics and Social Action in African Musical Idioms. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hartigan, Royal, Abraham Adzenyah and Freeman Donkor. 1995. West African Rhythms for Drumset. Van Nuys: Alfred Publishing Co.
Holmes, Michael. 1984 “The Pulse of Adowa.” MA Thesis: Wesleyan University, Middletown.
Kaminski, Joseph. 2007. Liner notes for Asante Kete Drumming: Music of Ghana. Nsuase Kete Group. New York: Lyricord Discs. Single disc album.
Koetting, James. 1970 “An Analytical Study of Ashanti Kete Drumming.” MA Thesis: University of California, Los Angeles.
Kwadwo, Osei. 2002. A Handbook on Asante Culture. Kumasi: O. Kwadwo Enterprise. Ladzekpo, CK 1995 “Foundation Course in African Dance-Drumming.” http://www.richardhodges.com/ladzekpo/Foundation.html [Accessed 8 May 2017].
Leake, Jerry. 2004. African Bell Ritual. Boston: Rhombus Publishing.
Locke, David. 1979. The Music of Atsiagbeko. PhD Dissertation: Wesleyan University, Middletown.
Locke, David. 1998 Drum Gahu: An Introduction to African Rhythm. Tempe: White Cliffs Media.
Locke, David. 2009 “Africa/Ewe, Mande, Dagbamba, Shona, BaAka.” In Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World’s Peoples, Jeff Todd Titon, ed. 83–144. Belmont: Schirmer Cengage Learning.
Locke, David. 2010 “Yewevu in the Metric Matrix.” Music Theory Online: A Journal of the Society for Music Theory 16(4). http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.10.16.4/mto.10.16.4.locke.html [Accessed 30 April 2017].
Locke, David. 2012 “Agbadza: The Critical Edition.” Tufts University. http://sites.tufts.edu/davidlocke/agbadza [Accessed 12 May 2017].
Magill, Jonathon and Jeffrey Pressing. 1997 “Asymmetric Cognitive Clock Structures in West African Rhythms.” Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal 15(2): 189–221.
Nketia, J.H. Kwabena. 1963a. African Music in Ghana. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.
Nketia, J.H. Kwabena. 1963b. Drumming in Akan Communities of Ghana. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd.
Nzewi, Meki. 1997. African Music: Theoretical Content and Creative Continuum – The Culture Exponent’s Definitions. Germany: Institut für Didaktik populärer Musik.
Paulding, Ben 2015 “Kete for the International Percussion Community.” In Discourses in African Musicology: A Festschrift in Honor of J.H. Kwabena Nketia. Kwasi Ampene, ed. 156–185. Ann Arbor and Accra: University of Michigan and University of Ghana.
Pressing, Jeff. 2002 “Black Atlantic Rhythm: Its Computational and Transcultural Foundations”. Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal 19(3): 285–310.
Rattray, Robert Sutherland. 1927. Religion & Art in Ashanti. London: Oxford University Press.
Spiro, Michael. 2011 “It’s Not a Waltz: Understanding the Triplet Feel in Afro-Centric Music.” Percussive Notes 49(5): 42–43.
Spiro, Michael and Josh Ryan. 2011. The Conga Drummer’s Guidebook. Petaluma: Sher Music Co.
Thompson, Robert Farris. 1973 “An Aesthetic of the Cool.” African Arts 7(1): 40–43, 64–67, 89–91.
Younge, Paschal Yao. 2011. Music and Dance Traditions of Ghana: History, Performance and Teaching. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc.