J. H. Kwabena Nketia: The guru of African ethno-musicology

Professor Nketia was born in Mampong  Ashanti in 1921. He attended the Presbyterian
Training College at Akropong from 1937- 41, and then spent three years in London at
the School for Oriental and African Studies and Trinity College of Music. He did further
studies in the U.S. at the Julliard School of Music, Columbia College and Northwestern
He joined the staff of the University of Ghana in 1952 and made extensive field trips to collect traditional music on a portable recording machine. He was also a member of the African music society that encouraged the music of local highlife guitar bands such as Onyina and E.K. Nyame. He has over 200 publications to his credit including the “Music of Africa” , a pioneering ethno-musicologica1 work that has been translated into numerous
languages. He is, what he calls, a ‘creative ethnomusicologist’ and has composed 80 pieces of Ghanaian art-music for piano, flute piano and atenteben bamboo flute. In 1966 he became Director of the Institute of African Studies until he was awarded an Emeritus Professorship from UCLA, where he taught from 1969-1982. He also was the Andrew Mellon Professor Emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh, where he taught from 1981-1991.
In the mid 1990s he returned to Ghana to establish the International Centre for African Music and Dance in the School of Performing Arts at Legon.
His awards include the Ghana Grand Medal, the International Music Council Prize, the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award and the Dutch Prince Claus Award.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *