Asafo Audio and Video Selections

Audio Selection:

The audio clip presents an extended example of the full drum and vocal ensemble of the Kyirem Co. No. 6 of Anomabu. It was recorded during the funeral for an officer of the company. All the basic components of Fante ensemble music are perceivable in this example, from the strong bell pattern (played on two large bells by two players) to the lead drummer vacillating between the dance and speech modes of drumming. The forced, almost shouting style of male singing is evident especially in the cantors’ voices (three men alternate in this role). The chorus part is less pronounced than is usually heard with this group; several company members could not forego fishing that day (the funeral took place on a Saturday instead of a Tuesday, which is the day of the week during which the spirit of the sea is honored and fishing is prohibited).

Texts / Translations for the Songs Heard on the Audio Example:

[Yerebo don safohen ewu]
yerebo don dom nye mbra

[We are ringing the bell to announce the death of the captain of the warriors]
We are ringing the bell so that people should come.

Omanhen e yese yerebo don e.
Safohen bi okyir hen.
Hen safohen e hen ara a.

Paramount chief, we are ringing the bell (i.e, listen to us)
Our captain hates us.
Our captain, here we are.

Yeregye aba [kuwmba yeregye aba.]
Pa hen kyew.
Yeenya e.

[We are coming home as champions.]
Beg to us. (note: said to the enemy)
We have got it.

[Yenam o Paapa boa hen.]
Nsu afon hen.

[We are still on the way (i.e., fighting), help us, father (i.e., leader)]
We are fed up with the water.

[Bobo aben] abofra roko a mannko.
Opanyin roko a mannko.
Bobo aben.

[Come and play the horn] with us.
Don’t go with either the young or the old.
Just come and play the horn with us. (Note: Come and join the asafo company.)

[Onyimpa rowu.]
[Someone is dying.] (Note: the group is calling for help for a man on the verge of death.)

Video Selection:

In this brief video excerpt taken during a funeral (for a fuller documentation of this event see: Events Involving Music–Funeral for Asafo Officer), the bell players and the drummers can be seen in the foreground and the singers in the background. The intensity of this organization’s music is captured nicely in this excerpt.

Performance Forces:

two adawur single iron bell, clapperless, struck with a wooden stick; time-keeping instrument
asafokyen single-headed tubular drum, elongated barrel-shaped body, struck with one stick beater and one open hand or occasionally two stick beaters; master drum
ampaa single-headed tubular drum, goblet-shaped, struck with both hands; support drum
ansaba single-headed tubular drum, footed, struck with two straight sticks; support drum
kumkum single-headed tubular drum with elongated barrel-shaped body, struck with one stick beater and with an open palm; support drum
cantors male, four trading off
chorus male, approximately twelve

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