Odenkese, which translates roughly as “because of love,” is, as best as I can tell, an old form or Fante recreational music. It was an all male form of music making at the time I recorded the group in 1993, open to any interested men in Anomabu (however, it sounded as though at some time in the past female singers were included). I was told that the odenkese style is at least 150 years old, although the key members of the band heard here have been together for only about thirty years. The two drums used in the accompaniment of this band are found also in a number of other Fante ensembles associated with asafo companies and religious cults; drums that clearly originate from outside the Fante territories–rectangular drums, congas and western-modeled side and bass drums–are not used for this music. Unlike much of the drumming in other recreational bands but more like deeper Fante drumming, one drum (the ansaba) is clearly a support rhythm drum, while the other (the odenkesekyen) functions as a lead drum. The only time keeping instrument is the bamboo clapper (abaa), which is used to keep a short beat pattern throughout the performance: beat-beat-beat-rest. As usual, the voices are organized into a call and response relationship with the chorus sometimes singing in harmony. Whereas many of the recreational groups heard on this site have been clearly influenced by the popular music idiom known as highlife, the drumming and singing of odenkese is deeply rooted in uniquely Fante sensibilities. The music of this group offers us probably the purest echo of pre-highlife-era Fante recreational music making of the six styles found in this section of the site.
This group plays at funerals, community celebrations, or any time that they wish or are asked to play. Their song texts seem to be a bit more serious in content than is the case with other recreational music. Moralistic, proverbial, praise, historical, and boastful texts are used, and sometimes they borrow songs from the music of warrior organizations.