Wesleyan portrait of John Wesley Dankwa

John Wesley Dankwa

Assistant Professor of Music

Rehearsal Hall, 101


BA University of Cape Coast
MA University of Cape Coast
PHD Wesleyan University

John Wesley Dankwa

John Dankwa is an ethnographer and performer who specializes in African music. His performance area ranges from West African traditional drumming to African pop and art music. Dankwa’s current research focuses on Dagaaba/Dagara xylophone music tradition in northwestern Ghana. His book-in-progress, When the Gyil Speaks, is a study of meaning in Dagaaba/Dagara xylophone music. Based on extensive fieldwork in the Nandom Traditional Area in northwestern Ghana, Dankwa’s work weaves together Dagaaba/Dagara cultural narratives with detailed analysis of sound material, song repertoire, performers, performance contexts, history, beliefs, customs, and values to illuminate how a single instrument and the music it performs can be invested with so much meaning in the cultural matrix within which it operates.

As a performer, Dankwa has shared the concert stage with several renowned groups such as the So Percussion, Georgia Spiritual Ensemble, and the Griffin Choral Art. Currently, he directs the West African Drumming and African Pop Music ensembles at Wesleyan. Dankwa is also the music director of the Association of Ghana Methodist Church Choirs in the US and Canada.



Academic Affiliations

Office Hours




Spring 2024
MUSC 445 - 01
W African Music/Culture: Begin

MUSC 447 - 01
W. African Music & Culture-Adv