Tuesday, May 4, 2021 at 7:00pm


Students in Assistant Professor of Music John Dankwa's MUSC 447 "West African Music and Culture - Advanced" will perform at the first "FromFest" featuring the Fɔntɔmfrɔm drumming of the Akan of Ghana.

Featuring Nate Antoine '21, Sarah Gbadebo '23, Ama Adomah Hagan '22, Ian Max Jacobson '21, Alvin Mwenda Kibaara '22, Julia Nacario '22, Sydney Ochieng '22, Thao Phan '21, Pablo Andres Puente '22, Benjamin Edward Russman '21 , Abdallah Mustapha Salia '22, and Siramori Yattassaye '23.

Fɔntɔmfrɔm is the most important of all drum orchestras associated with chieftaincy in the Akan society. Fɔntɔmfrɔm music is reserved for important social and religious occasions such as festivals, installation of chiefs, funerals of chiefs/queen mothers, and observances of important days on the Akan traditional calendar. The rhythms of Fɔntɔmfrɔm pieces are extremely complex, more so than those of any other drum ensemble of the Akan people. Some of the pieces have clearly defined verbal basis whereas others do not. A few examples of Fɔntɔmfrɔm pieces presented in this concert is as follows (in order):

Akita: A dance piece usually performed during the installing of chiefs. Specific dance movements are required for this piece, and dancers are expected to conclude each round with an end posture carefully timed to the end beats.

Apakan: This piece is played in procession as the chief, carried aloft in a palanquin (wheelless vehicle), dances with a gun in his hand, or as he walks holding a gun or followed by gunmen.

Odikuro: In situations of distress, for example at a funeral, this piece is played as the chief goes round in honor of the departed. It may also be played in the ceremonial shooting at festivals in confirmation of his allegiance to his ancestors who were chiefs before him.

Awɔmu: This piece is a conclusion to a longer style called tɔpre. Its name Awɔmu literally means “piercing.” As its name implies, at one time it meant or merely symbolized that a victim of state execution had been arrested. Its function is now entirely symbolic.

Aten: This is a commonly played piece in many Akan areas. It is used for the recession of the chiefs when he is returning to his palace after an event. The rhythms are based on call and response patterns between the drummers.

Kasa: This is a piece created for a dance of joy, a triumphant music which may be performed behind the chief when he is returning to his palace after a celebration.

Adowa: This is not a Fɔntɔmfrɔm piece. Adowa is a common music and dance performed at funerals in Akan society. This will be performed in honor of those who have died of the COVID-19 virus.