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Singing Band Audio and Video Selections

Audio Selections:

The audio clip contains a complete performance of an “anthem” titled Hyeren, performed a cappella except for an organ prelude (played by Mr. Ocran on a portable synthesizer). The members of the Ebenezer Methodist Church singing band do not read music, so their musically literate “band mistress,” Miss Elizabeth Anderson, must teach them by rote all the parts of all the pieces that comprise the group’s repertoire. I was unable to uncover the name of the anthem’s composer and his background, but it is quite obvious from a stylistic standpoint that he has background in western church music.

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

Let your light [shine], for you are a Christian.

Video Selections:

The video excerpt shows the offertory section of a service in the Ebenezer Methodist Church of Anomabu. This service as in celebration of the congregation’s one-hundredth anniversary. The Singing Band’s performance encourages non-performing members of the congregation to come forward and make their donation. Controlled spontaneity is evident in the way both performers and parishioners are free to move to the lilting beat of the music. Unlike in the audio example of this group, the music captured in the video includes instrumental accompaniment (off screen). The electronic synthesizer is heard throughout along with congas, dondo, clips, sistrum and bass drum. I was unable to find out the title of the song or procure its text, but musically it is based on what is called the “highlife” beat, 4/4 meter with clips sounding on the offbeat following the second, third and fourth beats.

Performance Forces:

synthesizer portable keyboard electrophone; used as harmonic instrument
chorus mixed–seventeen sopranos, fifteen altos, five tenors, four basses

(most of the group’s repertoire also includes:)

clips wooden concussion sticks, modeled after Latin American claves; time-keeping instrument
sistrum sliding rattle made of several metal concussion discs loosely attached to a wire stretched between the tips of a y-shaped frame; used as rhythmic instrument
conga pair of single-headed tubular hand drums with a conical bodies mounted on a stand, local adaptation of the Latin American conga; used as rhythmic instrument
bass drum double-head cylindrical drum with large diameter, struck with a stick beater, imported from Europe or modeled after European bass drum; used as rhythmic instrument

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