Kolomashie

The Kolomashie gather sitting and standing in a small room
Kolomashie #2 group of Anomabu

Kolomashie is a genre of recreational music the origin of which is not amongst the Fante but another coastal (non-Akan) group, the Ga (whose homeland is to the east of Anomabu, in the area now occupied by the national capital, Accra). I have no sense as to how old this tradition is or when and how it was picked up by the Fante of Anomabu, although it seems logical that contact between fishermen of these two groups made possible its

A group of Club Boys play rectangular frame drums while seated
The large rectangular frame drum on the right bears clubs on its drumhead from which this group takes its name: Club Boys

transmission. The group heard on and seen in the clips on the next page is locally called Kolomashie #2 and nicknamed “Club Boys.” When I asked them why they were called “Kolomashie #2″ they replied that up until recently (this was in 1993) there had been an older, rival group in town that has since disbanded. Rectangular drums from both groups were being used for the recording session, and group emblems for both groups are visible on the drumheads. The drum for Kolomashie #2 displays clubs (as on a deck of cards) framing the name, in English, “Club Boys.”

A close up image of the Akonkon and one of the rectangular drums in the Anomabu Kolomashie Group
The akonkon (left) and one of the three rectangular drums in the Anomabu Kolomashie #2 group

I would describe this genre as quintessential Fante male music making–tough, rough around the edges, aggressive, macho. Vocal production has an almost shouting quality to it with the cantors in particular appearing to compete with one another in a race to see who goes hoarse first. The forms of drums used in the ensemble, especially the rectangular frame drums and the akonkon, reinforce the “foreign” (non-Fante) origins of this musical style. Three types of bells are found in the

The Adawur Ntaa and the Two Ager play instruments seated in a circle
The adawur ntaa (lower left) and the two ager (middle and lower right)

ensemble, with the afirikyiwa providing the basic highlife time line while the two ager players add a two-tone ostinato and the adawur ntaa player improvises a two-toned rhythmic line. The three frame drums work together to provide a rhythmic underpinning to the more independent and spontaneously-generated rhythms created by the ampaa

The Cantors seated to perform while the Chorus plays the Ampaa Drum
The cantors (foreground) and chorus with the ampaa drum (right)

and akonkon players. All the instrumentalists and vocalists appear to be operating at full volume. The final section of the audio clip features the voices accompanied only by sporadic and non-metrical punctuations by some of the drummers. Two-part vocal harmony is present throughout much of this section.

Kolomashie, like other recreational forms, has no institutional association. To a certain extent this independence is reflected in the song texts, which are often topical in content and in the case of this performance make reference to individuals actually present at the recording session.

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