Sikyi originated in the 1920s as a dance of the youth became very popular at Ghana’s Independence from Britian in 1957. It is similar to Kpanlongo and Boborbor in how it performed by the youth, expressing their experiences in life, from covering such areas as love and the dramas of daily life.
Sikyi, pronounced SEE-chee, is a dance of the youth of Asante. It’s meant as a flirtatious dance. The rhythms played are intended to bring about romance. The Sikyi ensemble is made up of a total of nine different instruments. A basic timeline for the piece is kept by a metal bell, called a Frikyiwa. The master drummer plays with the hands on a drum called a Oprenten.
Sikyi is a form of drumming and dancing which came into vogue not only with the Ashanti, but also in the whole Akan area of Ghana in the 1920’s. It is characterized by dance postures and movements which simulate the dynamics of courtship through con- trasting demonstrations of strutting and bobbing, theatrical elegance, pastoral innocence, and abandonment.
Instruments: Lead Operenten, Support Apentema, High,
Middle and Low Tamalin, Bell and Shaker.
Sanga from the Ashanti – Akan region of Ghana, has its roots in Northern Ghana, probably the Dabamba tribe. The dance is flirtatious, women wearing bustle around their posterior to attract the advances of men.
Nnta is a form of drumming and dance at one time popular throughout the Akan area. The dance was descibed to me by my teacher as ‘haughty’. It laughs at the Ashatis that come back from the south. He said that the Akan met white people and now think they are better than the rest of us. They are ‘haughty’. The dance show how they walk with their walking sticks and umbrellas.
Ntan is a form of drumming and dancing which was at one time popular throughout the Akan area, including Ashanti. Like Sikyi, it is light in character. It may be performed at funerals, during the last phase of the odwira festival, and on other social occasions. The drums found in a Ntan ensemble have always been considered art objects because they are decorated with very elaborate relief carvings each of which is symbolic as well. For example, the master drum is usually mounted on a tiger; the tiger in this context denotes the power of the drum in controlling the affairs of the occasions.
The kete drum and bell ensemble is associated with the traditional chiefs of the Akan peoples of southern Ghana. The ownership of the kete ensemble is the domain of the Akan chieftains and performance of the ensemble is allowed only with permission of a chief. This type of ensemble is most frequently seen and heard in processions that form part of the elaborate funeral rites for Akan chiefs, but is also performed at funerals for other individuals with permission from a chief. The drums in kete ensembles are typically decorated in a red-and-black checkerboard pattern, which is either painted directly onto the drum shells or pieced together with patches of dyed cloth tacked onto the shells. Amongst the Akan, the colors of red and black are associated with funerals. While most chiefs today cannot afford to support full time music specialists in their palaces, most chiefs can still depend on certain families or villages under their authority to provide them with musicians on an as-needed basis.
The old kete tradition consists of three sections: drums, pipes, and vocals. However, the introduction of a central government and the accompanying reduction in the power and influence of the Akan chiefs has resulted in a reduction to only the drums in many cases. A notable exception to this change is the Asantehene, the head chief of the Akan region. The kete ensemble maintained at the court of the Asantehene includes pipes, vocals, and a large number of drums.
Kete performances, like most court music traditions, are structured and follow a traditional format depending on the occasion of the performance. A typical performance consists of eight pieces that coincide with specific rituals or moments within the funeral or event taking place. Kete also fulfills vital functions in the installment of a new chief. As part of the installment of a new chief, he is required to dance specific pieces before being presented to the regional chief.
The origin of the kete tradition and the instruments involved is an open question. The Akan people have three oral histories that explain the origin of the kete in various ways. The first story tells of super human creatures encountered on a hunting expedition. These creatures are honored by a piece (Abofoo) during all kete performances. The second story tells of a war against the Gyamang in which the piece Adinkrawas added to the performance of kete. The third story tells of a war with the Akyem. During a battle with this group all of the instruments in their kete ensemble were taken and adopted by the Ashante. While the kete ensemble remains to this day a component of Akan life and retains its primary association with traditional chiefs, in recent decades new social settings have emerged for this ensemble. In particular, some secondary and tertiary educational institutions possess a kete ensemble and provide performance instruction to present their students with an opportunity to learn about Akan drumming.
Fontomfrom or Bomaa is the most complex of all musical types of the Akan of Ghana. It is a series of warrior dances that are performed in religious, ceremonial and social contexts at the courts of chiefs.
Ben teaching Fontomfrom at Residential in Kent 2016
The name Assadua evoving from the Asaa tree, relates to the gay and pleasant nature of the dance. The Asaa is a sweet fruit tree commonly found in forest region of Ghana. One therefore would be tempted to conclude that Asaadua is a dance for sheer enjoyment and pleasure.
An Akan dance popular in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions.
Adowa is a popular dance that is widespread among the Akan and is performed during funerals and public social events. The ensemble comprises a lead singer, a chorus and percussion instruments. The leader and the chorus are nearly always middle-aged women, who accompany themselves with hand-clapping and/or with a dawure (double bell) or an atoke (single bell).
The dancers use a symbolic language, the different movements of their hands telling their own story. This body language is accentuated by the use of a white linen cloth, which they hold in their hand. The short dance steps are very subtle, drawing attention to the upper part of the body.
This music is characterized by polyrhythmic accents: the dance is in compound triple time and the accompaniment of the drums is interwoven with syncopations and cross-rhythms. The bell plays a steady rhythm, to which the chorus sings the responses. The lyrics of the songs express social and moral values such as, chiefs who have passed away, the grieving family, sympathy for the deceased, and the Akan faith.
The adowa percussion ensemble comprises several drums (a pair of atumpan, an apentemma, a petia, a brenko and a donno hourglass drum) and bells (a dawuru double bell and an atoke single bell).
The two atumpan drums, tuned to an interval of a fourth or a fifth, are played with two hooked wooden sticks. The largest drum, with the lowest pitch, is associated with the female, while the drum with the highest pitch evokes the male. The atumpan is usually the master drum in the adowa ensemble. The drums are sometimes wrapped in a red cloth. The apentemma drum, which plays a rhythmic ostinato figure in the form of triplets, is struck with the hands.
Traditionally red and black are the appropriate colours worn at an Akan funeral and both men and women wear black sandals. The women also wrap a red or black cloth around their head.