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An Apatampa group of Anomabu perform outside a small grey brick building
Apatampa group of Anomabu

Apatampa bands have male and female singers (although the females seem to usually predominate) accompanied by an unusual set of instruments performed by males. The lead drum of this ensemble is not really a drum at all, but a large rectangular plywood crate (about 4x2x1.5 feet) called adaka. One end of this instrument rests on the drummers lap, the other on the ground. By striking various areas with either clenched fists or open palms, a variety of membranophone-like sounds are produced. The rhythms

Adaka and Akonkon perform in a group outside a small brick building
Adaka (left) and akonkon (right)

performed on the adaka mix with those played on a real drum, the akonkon, itself interesting in that it is obviously of European origin. A single-pitch metal whistle (aben), not unlike signal whistles one would expect to hear on boats, provides a doubling of the highlife-based bell pattern played on the afirikyiwa. One wonders if long contact with European traders in some coastal Fante port such as Anomabu wasn’t responsible for the unusual collection of instruments found in apatampa recreational bands (the only clearly indigenous instrument used by this group is the time-keeping afirikyiwa). The Anomabu group heard in this selection had been together only three years at the time of the recording in 1993.

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