Ewe music

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Ewe music is the music of the Ewe people of Togo, Ghana, and Benin, West Africa. Ewe music_sentence_0

Instrumentation is primarily percussive and rhythmically the music features great metrical complexity. Ewe music_sentence_1

Its highest form is in dance music including a drum orchestra, but there are also work (e.g. the fishing songs of the Anlo migrants), play, and other songs. Ewe music_sentence_2

Ewe music is featured in A. Ewe music_sentence_3 M. Jones's Studies in African Music. Ewe music_sentence_4

Characteristics Ewe music_section_0

Jones describes two "rules" (p. 24 and p. 17, capitalization his): Ewe music_sentence_5

Ewe music_ordered_list_0

  1. The Unit of Time Rule or the Rule of Twos and Threes: "African [Ewe] phrases are built up of the numbers 2 or 3, or their multiples: or of a combination of 2 and 3 or of the multiples of this combination. Thus a phrase of 10 will be (2 + 3) + (2 + 3) or (2 + 2 + 2) + 4.Ewe music_item_0_0
  2. The Rule of Repeats: "The repeats within an African [Ewe] song are an integral part of it." If a song is formally "A + A + B + B + B" one cannot leave out, say, one of the B sections.Ewe music_item_0_1

He also lists the following "Features of African [Ewe] Music" (p. 49): Ewe music_sentence_6

Ewe music_ordered_list_1

  1. "Songs appear to be in free rhythm but most of them have a fixed time-background.Ewe music_item_1_2
  2. The rule of 2 and 3 in the metrical build of songs.Ewe music_item_1_3
  3. Nearly all rhythms which are used in combination are made from simple aggregates of a basic time-unit. A quaver is always a quaver.Ewe music_item_1_4
  4. The claps or other time-background impart no accent what-ever to the song.Ewe music_item_1_5
  5. African [Ewe] melodies are additive: their time-background is divisive.Ewe music_item_1_6
  6. The principle of cross-rhythms.Ewe music_item_1_7
  7. The rests within and at the end of a song before repeats are an integral part of it.Ewe music_item_1_8
  8. Repeats are an integral part of the song: they result in many variations of the call and response form (see summary).Ewe music_item_1_9
  9. The call and response type of song is usual in Africa [sic].Ewe music_item_1_10
  10. African [Ewe] melodies are diatonic: the major exception being the sequence dominant-sharpened subdominant-dominant.Ewe music_item_1_11
  11. Short triplets are occasionally used.Ewe music_item_1_12
  12. The teleological trend: many African [Ewe] songs lean towards the ends of the lines: it is at the ends where they are likely to coincide with their time-background.Ewe music_item_1_13
  13. Absence of the fermata."Ewe music_item_1_14

Cross-rhythmic structure Ewe music_section_1

The ethnomusicologist David Locke states: "Cross-rhythm pervades Ewe drumming." Ewe music_sentence_7

In fact, the overall rhythmic structure is generated through cross-rhythm. Ewe music_sentence_8

Cross-rhythm was first identified as the basis of sub-Saharan rhythm in the early writings of A.M. Ewe music_sentence_9 Jones, and was later explained in great detail in lectures by the Ewe master drummer and scholar C.K. Ewe music_sentence_10

Ladzekpo, and in the writings of Locke. Ewe music_sentence_11

3:2 (hemiola) Ewe music_section_2

The most fundamental cross-rhythm in Ewe music, and Sub-Saharan African music traditions in general, is three-against-two (3:2), or six-against-four (6:4), also known as a vertical hemiola. Ewe music_sentence_12

The cycle of two or four beats are the main beat scheme, while the triple beat scheme is secondary. Ewe music_sentence_13

Ladzekpo states: "The term secondary beat scheme refers to a component beat scheme of a cross rhythm other than the main beat scheme. Ewe music_sentence_14

In a similar manner as a main beat, each secondary beat is distinguished by measuring off a distinct number of pulsations. Ewe music_sentence_15

A recurrent grouping of a number of these beats in a musical period forms a distinct secondary beat scheme." Ewe music_sentence_16

Novotney observes: "The 3:2 relationship (and [its] permutations) is the foundation of most typical polyrhythmic textures found in West African musics." Ewe music_sentence_17

3:2 is the generative or theoretic form of sub-Saharan rhythmic principles. Ewe music_sentence_18

Agawu succinctly states: "[The] resultant [3:2] rhythm holds the key to understanding . Ewe music_sentence_19

. Ewe music_sentence_20

. Ewe music_sentence_21

there is no independence here, because 2 and 3 belong to a single Gestalt." Ewe music_sentence_22

3:8 Ewe music_section_3

The following bell pattern is used in the Ewe rhythm kadodo. Ewe music_sentence_23

The 24-pulse pattern crosses the barline, contradicting the meter with three sets of five strokes, across eight main beats (two measures of four main beats each). Ewe music_sentence_24

The three single strokes are muted. Ewe music_sentence_25

The kadodo bell pattern is an embellishment of three "slow" cross-beats spanning two measures, or three-over-eight (3:8). Ewe music_sentence_26

Within the context of a single four-beat cycle (single measure), the cross-rhythmic ratio is 1.5:4. Ewe music_sentence_27

Instruments Ewe music_section_4

Bell and rattle Ewe music_section_5

The atoke, gankogui, and axatse sound the rhythmic foundation. Ewe music_sentence_28

The atoke is a high pitched gong played with an iron rod. Ewe music_sentence_29

The Gankogui is a clapperless double bell that is pounded in shape rather than cast. Ewe music_sentence_30

It produces much less audible high partials than western bells ("purer" fundamental) and is played with a stick. Ewe music_sentence_31

It produces two notes each of which vary and must vary among gankogui so they may be used together. Ewe music_sentence_32

The gankogui plays a key pattern, or guide pattern, which the orchestra builds upon, although the tempo is set by the master drummer. Ewe music_sentence_33

Many bell patterns from 8 to 24 pulses are used, but the most common key pattern is the 12-pulse basic Ewe, or standard pattern. Ewe music_sentence_34

The standard pattern Ewe music_section_6

The axatse is a rattle—a beaded gourd instrument. Ewe music_sentence_35

The axatse part which accompanies the standard pattern is: "pa ti pa pa ti pa ti pa ti pa pa." The "pa's" sound the standard pattern by striking the gourd against the knee. Ewe music_sentence_36

The "ti's" sound pulses in between the bell strokes, by raising the gourd in an upward motion and striking it with the free hand. Ewe music_sentence_37

As is common with many African rhythms, the axatse part begins (first "pa") on the second stroke of the bell (1a), and the last "pa" coincides with 1. Ewe music_sentence_38

By ending on the beginning of the cycle, the axatse part contributes to the cyclic nature of the overall rhythm. Ewe music_sentence_39

Drums Ewe music_section_7

Master drum: Atsimewu Asiwui: Sogo, Kidi, Kagan, Bell, Shakers Ewe music_sentence_40

Dagbamba: Talking drum, Brekete drum Ewe music_sentence_41

Claps and song Ewe music_section_8

Voice and hands. Ewe music_sentence_42

See also Ewe music_section_9

Ewe music_unordered_list_2


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ewe music.