Emilia and Kofi
Transcript of Interview
A: = Adam
C: = Connor
E: = Emilia
K: = Kofi
C: We are students from the University of Alberta, and we are here studying the importance of music within the village, as well as to document them We are interviewing different people in this village to learn and to find out what the experience and the attitudes people have in regards to culture and music.
E: What is your first question?
A: Has the context and importance of music in your community changed in your lifetime? Specifically, has there been any changes in funeral proceedings since you were young?
E: In this town we like culture. In cannot change in this town.
C: What was music like for your grandparents compared to how it was for you as a youth?
E: It was the same, it did not change.
C: How do you feel when you hear music? What effect does it have on your body, your feelings, and your thoughts?
E: I feel happy. When I hear music, singing, I just feel happy.
C: That is very powerful.
E : Yes, when you are thinking of something bad, when you hear singing music and dancing, you forget (the problem).
A: I was just curious specifically if there is a difference to the practice of the Ewe funeral traditions between now and before. What changed have you witnessed (if any) in your lifetime?
No response heard
C: As an adult woman do you see any difference for the importance of music for your generation versus those from younger generations of Ewe? Do you feel that there is a different value of music for them than for you? Or is the importance the same? Is it the same for all Ewe?
E: All Ewe.
C: Even young children?
E: Yes all children, even small ones. They hear music and they respond.
A: So this traditions is important for all generations now?
K: Yes, but now it is a bit different. In the older generations they were not spinning the (makes sound of bassline of popular American music) sort of music, but the new ones are. Now this new music is taking over.
A: You say ‘taking over’, although this music is being more common is it seen at all as a threat to the old traditions and culture?
K: No no no no no no. now the world is not like this, like generational. You go with what you like, some people they are traditional, some people change to Christian, it is ok the music can remain.
C: What difference, if any, exists between listening to the music being performed live versus differently when the traditional music is performed live?
K: When it’s performed live you feel the spirits.
K: Yeah, you feel the spirits when the music is performed live you feel it more than on the radio.
E: ok it’s true.
A: So with the change in technology, it is possible to listen to traditional music anywhere, so beyond the advantage of technology does it make a difference where you hear it? But that is not the same as being there and feeling it?
K: When someone is playing drums, at least when they are playing in the shrine and somebody is playing the drums you feel the ….. what is the English word of it? You’ll be captured, captured by the rhythm.
E: You feel something. It is in your body.
K: You feel it so deeply in your body.
E: In your soul, your body your spirit.
C: When Ewe go from traditional religion to being Christian, do they still hold on to the traditions in some way, like the dancing?
K: Ohh yeah, dancing cannot change.
E: It cannot change.
C: So there is still the same spirit you spoke of?
C: The reason I ask, an example of the historical effect of Christianity in Europe through out the Christian rule there, the church did take steps to change the music and discourage dancing of the people by claiming that certain rhythms were immoral and evil.
E: But with we Ewe, it cannot change.
K: You cannot change it like that, it will always exist.
E: It cannot be changed.
K: I can’t change it like that.
A: For you, when you see Ewe travel to the city, or to other countries and they come back, have you ever seen changes in them, and their interaction with the music? For example if someone goes to England from Ghana, and spends many years, and comes back would you see a difference between them and an average Ghanaian? Does anything about them change and their relationship with the music. Do you see a difference in how they dance?
(E/K): If he or she comes to Ghana, he or she will change when they come back.
He or she will come and open it,
C: Even if they just have Ghanaian parents?
E: They will change and understand it.
(She is called by a friend and Emilia Concludes)
E: So that is music.
C: Thank you so much.
Interviewed by Connor Marsh and Adam Hesse, Summer 2010
Addressed in this interview are the perspectives of an elder woman and a younger man. The man was originally sitting by as a listener but became involved and when there were some hitches in understanding, facilitated communication with translation. In this interview, what was covered was the direct experience of the interviewees as well as that of some of their predecessors as well as the importance of music and dance in their culture in the recent decades versus the importance of music, dance and tradition now.
The influence of technology and globalization on the culture and the music was discussed. The spiritual experience was described, as well there was an addressing of the impact that contemporary Christianization and Christianity has had on the spiritual-musical practices of the Ewe people.
This interview was conducted with the intent of finding some diverse perspective, we were specifically looking for an older woman who could provide some contrast to our previous interviews which were with generally young men.
There were however, some complications that came along with the older generation. In many cases, there is not the same familiarity and ease with English as is found with subsequent generations and our translator also being English as a second language, I feel that there was a streamlining of the meaning and as a result there is a loss of some of the details or nuances that would have not been lost had there not been a need for bidirectional translations.
In addressing the content of the interview, I was struck by one major characteristic: there was a total confidence with both the woman and our acting translator about the near invulnerability of the Ewe culture against the potential threats of modernization as well as some spiritual practices which are in competition with the traditional ways.
Much of what Emilia said echoed much of what I had heard from many informal conversations that I had with residents of Dagbamete. This was the apparently universal value of the spiritual importance of the dance and the music for the people. They all mentioned that there is the perception that an exterior spiritual force can be channeled during the act of dancing, music making and singing. It was described as an immediate state of “happiness”. What I found even more interesting was that people did not seem to talk about the profoundness of this spiritual experience with one another. The impression that I got was this was just a tacitly understood reaction that was in the realm of physical feeling versus a disconnected intellectual experience. Also quite noteworthy was the consistency of the answers from people of different ages, genders and places of origin. The dancing is a form of worship per se. After leaving Dagbamete, I was interested to see how an friend of mine, a Born-again Christian Ghanaian Ewe living in London, UK would deal with doing the traditional dance, or if she would even know it. Although she has been in the UK since childhood she knew the dance with great ease, saying “of course I know it, it’s our dance.”
Also interesting was the place of Christianity in the village, in one discussion with a young woman in her 20’s I was surprised when she quoted the Bible; I then asked if she read the Bible. She said “of course, don’t you?” This was quite surprising because many of the conversations with the young men, there was a contrarian opinion regarding Christianity. They saw Christianity as a foreign religion that was not as spiritually relevant for the Ewe as their traditional beliefs. This woman who quoted the bible was a regular attendee of the Shrine and would often play some of the instruments.
The interview was interesting not because the perspective of this Elder woman was different, but because it was almost consistent with the opinions of the youths in both the informal conversations as well as the other interviews we conducted.
Connor Marsh and Adam Hesse, Summer 2010