1st Edition

Female Song Tradition and the Akan of Ghana The Creative Process in Nnwonkoro

By Kwasi Ampene Copyright 2005
    270 Pages
    by Routledge

    Nnwonkoro is a genre of women’s song found among the Akan-speaking peoples of Ghana. It has become a hybrid musical form, incorporating songs and dance movements based on traditional practices alongside others reflecting Christian influence. Nnwonkoro groups perform regularly at funerals, on state occasions, for entertainment, and even in church. In common with other Akan musical traditions, nnwonkoro is transmitted orally and aurally. Based on extensive fieldwork in the Asante and Bono Ahafo regions, and featuring many transcriptions of songs, this book investigates the nature of composition in oral culture, together with issues such as the scope of the poetic imagination and the transformation processes that accompany modernization. This study illuminates the musical style of nnwonkoro in a way which, it is hoped, will facilitate future comparative study of African songs. A CD recording is included.

    Contents: Introduction; The Akan song tradition of Nnwonkoro: a historical overview; Motivations for the creative process; Compositional conventions of Nnwonkoro songs; Models of form and style; The creative process and context; Contemporary issues; Appendices; CD information; Bibliography; Index.


    Kwasi Ampene is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA.

    'Ampene is to be commended for this excellent contextual analysis of nnwonkoro (female song tradition) among the Akan of Ghana...it is written in clear prose that makes it broadly accessible. Ethnomusicology scholars in particular will find it a model of 'reflective' theory...Highly recommended.’ Choice ’It is a significant work for scholars interested in compositional processes, particularly within oral traditions.’ Journal of Folklore research ’... full of many useful analytical insights, and leaves the door open for future investigators... Much applause and accolade for Ampene's genius, musical and analytical creativity. This text will definitely inspire new and daring approaches to the study of African music.’ Research in African Literatures ’Kwasi Ampene has done ethnomusicological work of high standard. Although the bulk of the book is a finely detailed treatment of Nnwonkoro songs, Ampene nicely contextualizes the music with ample information about specific individuals and Asante society, culture and recent history... Ampene is to be commended for undertaking detailed musical discussion, which is not always present in ethnomusicological work... In this fine book Kwasi Ampene has comprehensively mediated into cosmopolitan form this important contemporary African tradition. His culturally attuned interpretation enables music scholars to use it for comparative analysis, and music lovers to appreciate it as an aesthetically rich experience.’ Journal of the American Musicological Society