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Bosoe Audio and Video Selections

Audio Selection:

The musical texture of bosoe music consists of time keeping instruments (afirikyiwa and clips) playing the highlife timeline, a pair of rattles, and three drums–none of which seem to be operating in the capacity of a lead drum–each contributing a slightly varying rhythmic line to the basically regular, almost ostinato-like beat that underlies the music, and a vocal call-response layer. These various musical components can be focused on in succession as you listen to the audio clip.

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

Nsaamaa nyimpa n’ewiei
Ankwa aroma egyanka dabi meye yie

[expresses the sad end of man–lit., maggots determine the end of man.; will a lonely bird (an orphan) ever prosper?]

Ankwa aroma a oroko e gyina ho Ayee o
ayee asra womba ahwe?

[cautions the lonely bird to look after its young ones well]

“Boy” e hwe me nantsew mu e
“Boy” e w’aye m’adze hwe me nantsew muo
Moso m’abe kentsen kor a mereye m’aye yie befa ko

[a lady is telling her false lover (“boy”) that despite her precarious situation, she has still managed to get a basket full of palm fruits and that he can come and take it away]

Ao monua gyae su
Woara nyin de owu nhye de
Woara nyin de baako ye mbobor

[a song consoling someone in distress–“my brother/sister stop crying,” “death never announces the day of its action,” “it is evident a lonely person almost always suffers”]

Ero “Mary” ekonee akyer o
Aye bohwe wo mba

[a call to the Virgin Mary–a piece usually used in ending bosoe performances]

Video Selections:

The video clip, in addition to providing you with an opportunity to associate the instrumental timbres with the instruments on which they are produced, allows you to briefly see the bosoe dance style and, perhaps more importantly, affords you a glimpse at how young children receive their “music education”–in their mothers’ arms or on their backs, or on the edge of the performance space where they are free to mimic the movements of the adults present.

Performance Forces:

two afirikyiwa metal castanet consisting of a wide ring worn on the thumb and a somewhat globular-shaped bell hanging from the second finger of the same hand; time-keeping instrument
clips wooden concussion sticks, modeled after Latin American claves; time-keeping instrument
awosua a pair of maraca-like internal seed rattles; rhythmic instrument
bosoekyen single-head tubular hand drum, elongated barrel shape, head attached with pegs; rhythmic instrument
akonkon small military-style side drum, double headed, cylindrical body, struck with one wooden beater; rhythmic instrument
tamalin a large rectangular frame drum struck with the palm; rhythmic instrument
cantors female, two trading off
chorus mixed, approximately eighteen

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