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Spheres of Music Making

Procession of chiefs for a royal funeral carrying shade objects
Procession of chiefs for a royal funeral

Anomabu residents who are so inclined may perform music for enjoyment or in the spirit of contributing to a variety of community social and spiritual institutions. I have articulated four spheres of musicking that serve to highlight what appear to me to be socially significant relationships between the music genres/groups I encountered in Anomabu and key community institutions that are central to Fante lifeways. A person can take part in music making (either as performer or spectator) in Anomabu within the community’s: 1) religious sphere, which includes groups and music making associated with a range of spiritual institutions found in Anomabu; 2) martial sphere, which is structured around the institution of warrior organizations; 3) chieftaincy sphere, in which certain sorts of musical instruments, ensembles and practices have become emblematic of the elevated social position of chief; and 4) recreational sphere, the organizations of which play a prominent role in the lifecycle events–in particular funerals–of its members and in community-wide celebrations. The institutions at the cores of the first three spheres–the religious, martial and chieftancy spheres–exist to service various spiritual, civic, and social needs of the community at large and its individual citizens. They are not musical organizations per se, but institutions each of which involves in its normal operation music making of a distinctive sort. The groups belonging to the recreational sphere are, indeed, musical organizations at their core, but ones that in addition to providing musical participatory outlets for their memberships also play a significant social role in the community at large.

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