Ewe Rhythm And Dance
It's probably Agbadza
there's only one traditional rhythm you
remember upon return from Ghana or Togo. To
tourists without any knowledge of Ewe drumming, this fun piece
is simply known as "the chicken dance". You'll know why when
you see it!
Today, Agbadza is a very popular recreational dance.
It entertains people at funerals, weddings and
any other get-together or party. Even the modern bands in
the cities like to incorporate this fun rhythm into their music.
Some traditional Ewe dances are reserved to people of a certain
age group or religion. But any
child, woman or great-grandfather is welcome to dance Agbadza.
At a funeral in Atsiekpui, Volta
Region of Ghana
itself means something like "for everybody". If you ever get a chance
to attend a traditional Ewe event, even
you, a foreign visitor, will be expected to dance. (How else do you
think I've earned the permission to record the above video!)
A bit of history
Despite the first impression, the background of this
isn't all that fun. Before the Ewe people were able to settle in the
beautiful Volta Region of Ghana and in Southern Togo, they went through
tough times of war and oppression: They had to fight their way to
To train and encourage their warriors, the Ewe played various war
dances, one of them called Atrikpui
. In the
1920s, after the Ewe had enjoyed a period of peace, this serious
dance turned into the fun and entertaining Agbadza that we
How they keep an old thing fun
When the Ewe play a traditional piece, they like to go on for
hours! But don't think that's boring or monotonous. When Africans play
drum, more is going on than we think:
To keep the excitement up, a skillful Master Drummer will
introduce a new beat and song at just the right moment. He can
blend in other Ewe rhythms (like Agbekor
) that sound very similar.
Also, as many other African tribes, the Ewe are able to "talk" through
their drums. For instance, the Master Drummer may drum the name of
another musician or a dancer to challenge him or her. That person will
and respond with a nice move. This way, the people present can
playfully interact with each other.
I start to feel that our
party music is
monotonous compared to this!
Learn to play yourself
Although we can't talk on the drums without knowing the Ewe language,
even we Westerners can learn to play the basic rhythm. In fact,
Ghanaians teach us in Universities all around the world.
If you're not lucky enough to have a Ghanaian teacher near you, you can
learn Ewe drumming with the help of the National Ghana Dance Ensemble:
of the Anlo Ewe"
teaches every part of Agbadza, Agbekor
step by step.
(The drums you'll need are Atsimevu,
Sogo, Kidi and Kaganu
as well as the Gankogui bell
and several Axatse gourd rattles
Enjoy and keep partying with the Ewe!
Copyright © 2009 - 2011 African-Music-Safari.com