On the album “FRITETE,” Kwame Ansah-Brew celebrates the joy of Authentic African Dance and Music. Ansah-Brew joyfully recreates the ancient music of the Ghanaian traditional (indigenous) music. The instrumentation on this album includes the dynamic percussive sounds of drums, bells, shakers, and the conch shell.
Ansah-Brew feels it is very important to preserve traditional Ghanaian music for several reasons. Chief among these is because traditional music has historically accompanied and enhanced Ghanaian life—at recreational activities and significant festivals, as well as the seminal rites of passage in the lives of Ghanaians—such as birth, puberty, marriage, and death. Music has also served an important role in the installation of chiefs.
Traditional Ghanaian music is woven into the fabric of Ghanaian social, political, and spiritual life.
Kwame Ansah-Brew recognizes the vital role that traditional music has played in the lives of the people, and in the souls of music lovers all over the world who celebrate the purity, grace, drama, and spirit of these ancient (“Fritete”) sounds.
Ansah-Brew is currently working on a follow up CD, FRITETE Volume II, which will highlight other Ghanaian indigenous musical forms and instruments such as the Xylophone, the Gonje and the Atenteben (bamboo flute)
ABOUT THE ENSEMBLES
TRACK 1Gahu emanated from the musical traditions associated with marriage and wedding rites of the Yoruba of Nigeria. This historic origin can be seen today in the rich Yoruba costume worn by dancers. The Southern Ewe of Ghana and Togo presently performs the dance on most social occasions. Gahu means “expensive” or “jewel” in the Ewe language. It is a recreational dance. Through cultural integration among the neighboring countries of the West Africa Sub-Region, the Gahu dance has traveled from Nigeria into the Anlo communities in Ghana. This is apparent in the costumes and also in the movements, which are Yoruba, modified by the characteristic Agbadza dance form popular with the Anlo people. Its graceful movements exhibit elegance and dignity with meaning.
TRACK 2 Kpalongo is the latest development in Ghana of the West African Recreational dance, the Highlife. Kpanlongo is the most recent of all Ga recreational musical types, an offshoot of Gome, Oge, Kolomashie, and Konkoma. Referred to as "the dance of the youth,” Kpanlongo started during the wake of Ghana’s Independence as a musical type for entertainment in Accra. Kpanlongo is presently performed at life-cycle events, festivals, and political rallies.
TRACK 3 Bamaya is a popular dance performed at harvest time among the Dagbani of northern Ghana. Dagbani dances are, in general, marked by dignity, grace, and controlled expressiveness. Bamaya narrates the legend of a time of great drought in northern Ghana. An oracle told the people that the drought was brought about by the manner in which the men were severely repressing and demeaning the women. It further stated that the drought would be relieved only when the men lowered themselves to the role they were imposing on the women by putting on skirts and participating in this dance. When the men did this it began to rain. It is currently performed during harvest time in northwestern Ghana by both Dagbani men and women.
TRACK 4 Nagla A piece from Northern Ghana. Nagla is usually performed during the harvest festival. It is being performed to tell the story of how young men and women come together and move toward marriage. Drumming pieces from this region often do not use a bell pattern, but instead organize the pulse through the interplay of rhythms between drum parts.
TRACK 5 Gota was originally a dance for medicine men of the ancient kingdom of Dahomey, now Benin, in West Africa. As such, it retains the use of the mystic calabash drum from that time. Today, Gota is performed for social entertainment. The synchronized stops and starts of the drums and dancers lend the dance an air of suspense and excitement.
TRACK 6 Sikyi is a recreational music and dance of the youth of Ashanti. It originated in the 1920s but became very popular around Ghana’s Independence in 1957. It is performed in the vein of Kpanlongo of the Ga of Accra and Boboobo of the Northern Ewe of the Volta Region of Ghana. Sikyi is seen principally at social gatherings where the youth solely express themselves in courtship. It is flirtatious in character. Its characteristic form is the strutting and bobbing up and down and a display of theatrical elegance
TRACK 7 Fontomfrom (Akantam): This royal piece from the Asante traditions of Ghana normally is played for Kings, Chiefs of high recognition and Abrimpong (courageous ones in the community). The word “Frontomfom” is derived from the word “afro” which means “quagmire” (very thick mud); seemingly quiet but able to devour an elephant. Frontomfom is the invocation of the inner person through seventy-seven proverbs communicated by the sounds of all the instruments forming the ensemble. 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.
TRACK 8 Atsiagbekor is a war dance of the Ewe people of southeast Ghana, Togo, and Benin. This dance was originally performed as part of the ritual which prepared warriors for battle. Nowadays, its performance serves as a means of recalling these past times. It is a contemporary version of the Ewe traditional war dance. Atamga - Great (ga), Oath (atam) - in reference to the oaths taken by the ancestral Ewe speaking people before proceeding into battle. Occasionally solo and small group dancing is performed toward the end of each presentation reminiscent of the battlefield. Reconnaissance, surprise attack and hand to hand combat are the stylized forms of the modern version of this dance. The main dance is fast paced and draws upon battle maneuvers for certain episodes, such as planning the attack, advancing and retreating. The modern version of Atsiagbekor is performed for entertainment at social gatherings and at cultural presentations.
TRACK 9 Takai is a royal dance of the Dagbamba chiefs and princes. It is performed on festive occasions such as the annual Damba festival, political rallies, and durbar of chiefs. Danced only by men, Takai movements involve pivot turns, torso swings, and stamping to the rhythm of the Luna and gungon, the only drums that are used in this dance.
TRACK 10 Mmentia (Horns) are mainly played to announce the presence of the King/chief of the Akan and other ethnic groups in Africa. The Mmentia player plays praise tunes to the kings/chief.