Ghana 2010 syllabi

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Academic leader

Professor Michael Frishkopf,
Tel. in Ghana TBA; (780) 492-0670, 435-4834, 707-4785 (pre-trip until May 31; by email thereafter)
University of Ghana Guest Centre, July 2 - July 17
Office hours TBA.

Ghana Coordinator

Prof. Nathan Bampo (Institute for African Studies)


See below.

Course schedules

General schedule

West African Music Ensemble (Music 144/544)

July 5 - 20: University of Ghana's Legon campus. We meet just outside the department of music, in the open air. Instructors: Johnson Kemeh (drumming, dancing, singing), Aaron Sukura (gyil xylophones), TBA (atenteben flute)

July 9 - 11: Ga music, song, and dance workshops in Kokrobite, with Mustapha Tettey Addy, Okoe Ardifyo, and others

July 17 - 18: possible Fante music and dance workshop (?)

July 21 - 28: Asante and Dagomba music, song, and dance workshops, in Kumasi and Tamale

July 29 - Aug 7: Dagbamete. Study of Ghanaian music, dance, and song continues at the village field site. Instructor: Prof. Kwasi Dunyo.

Final performances: Aug 6 (Dagbamete).

Introduction to Ethnomusicology: The ethnomusicology of Ghanaian music and dance (Music 365/565)

July 5-20, University of Ghana's Legon campus, in the Computer LAB (School of Performing Arts)

Lectures, workshops, and performances from:

  • Prof. J.H. Kwabena Nketia, Introduction to Music of Ghana; African Art Music
  • Prof. John Collins: Popular Music and Ghanaian history
  • Prof. Gavin Web: Mutual Aid Societies
  • Prof. Nathan Damptey: fieldwork among the Akan: Akan society and music (hunters' music, funeral music)
  • Prof. Nissio Fiagbedzi: Ewe music and aesthetics
  • Mr. Senyo Adzei: West African rhythm
  • Prof. Patience Kwakwa: The study of West African Dance
  • Prof. Michael Frishkopf, technical and ethical aspects of ethnomusicological fieldwork

July 9-11 (Buduburam camp and Kokrobite)

  • Kokrobite Dance Ensemble
  • Mustapha Tettey Addy, master drummer

July 16-18 (Cape Coast)

  • Prof. Zabana Kongo: Congolese popular music
  • Ms. Antoinette Kuduto: Fanti Music

July 21-28 (Ghana tour):

  • Prof. Koo Nimo (Dr Daniel Amponsah): Asante music and culture, and the palmwine guitar tradition (Kumasi)
  • Mr. Fuzzy Kombat: Music in Dagbon (Tamale)

July 29-Aug 7 (Dagbamete village):

  • Prof. Michael Frishkopf: fieldwork component
  • Prof. Kwasi Dunyo (master drummer/dancer): Ewe musical and cultural traditions

West African culture, language, and society (Middle Eastern and African Studies 300/500)

July 5-20, University of Ghana's Legon campus, in the Computer LAB (School of Performing Arts)

Lectures from:

  • Prof. Alex Dzameshie
  • Prof. Paul Agbedor (linguistics)
  • Prof. Robert Addo-Fenning (history)
  • Rev. Prof. Elorm Dovlo (religious studies)
  • Mr. Seth Ablosu (political science)
  • Prof. Akosua Perbi (history)
  • Prof. Mohammed Abdallah (drama)
  • Prof. Esi Sutherland-Addy (women's studies)
  • Prof. Kofi Anyidoho (literature)
  • Mr. Alhassan Sulemana Anamzoya (anthropology)

July 29-Aug 7 (Dagbamete village): Prof. Frishkopf: fieldwork and oral history supervision; Prof. Kwasi Dunyo: Ewe culture.

Assignments and grading



In order to learn, it is essential to participate fully in the program. Beyond completing reading and writing assignments, you must attend every class (this means arriving to class on time!), take notes, engage in discussion or play/sing/dance (as appropriate), as well as attend every mandatory activity, except in cases of dire illness. It is equally important to make every effort to engage yourself with life in Ghana beyond the classroom.


Readings include (1) scholarly articles, (2) scholarly book chapters, (3) textbooks; (4) literature (novels, short stories, poems, plays)

Some readings are optional, while others are required. I try to assign at least one reading to accompany every lecture in Music 365/565 and MEAS 300/500, providing you with research by the lecturer whenever possible.

Bear in mind that you do not need to read every word of every reading - rather your aim is to locate and absorb the main points of each. If you encounter something you do not understand, try to move on, and ask.

Some of the required readings are marked with an asterisk (*). These are the readings for which everyone must prepare a one-notecard reading review (see writing assignments below).

Other readings are marked with a dollar sign ($). Graduate students must prepare reading reviews for these readings.

Just because you're not preparing a reading review doesn't mean you shouldn't do the reading! Your papers should cite as many readings as possible. In any case, your education is in your own hands...

Listening, viewing

This year I'm adding a selection of listenings and viewings, some required, others optional. These will be linked to the various lectures or professors from whom you'll be learning. You can listen online, often for free (but better do so in advance of travel); most materials can also be downloaded, and heard/watched in Ghana if you bring a laptop.


These short assignments are designed to encourage reflection, analytical thinking, and synthesis, drawing on both academic work and experience. Page lengths refer to 1.5 spaced pages, 12 pt font, 1 inch margins. You'll need 4x6 notecards for the reading reviews (see below).

Papers will be due August 30, giving you a chance to digest information and reflect after you return home; writing more than notecards and fieldnotes in the field will be difficult due to environment, and time constraints. Notecards (lecture notes, reading reviews) are due by Monday evening following the week in which they're assigned. Fieldnotes will be graded towards the end of our stay in Dagbamete. Papers and the blog's URL can be submitted by email.

Standards for graduate students will be higher (in length, and in sophistication) than for undergraduates; please see me for clarification. Some readings which are optional for undergrads may be mandatory for grads.

  • Reading review cards. For each required reading (article or book chapter) marked by an asterisk (*) you will prepare one 4x6 notecard with your name and the title of the reading on the top line (name at the left, title to the right). Below, you will provide a succinct summary and critique of the reading. In your summary, indicate coverage and main points; in your critique, indicate limitations, authorial biases and implicit assumptions. These are very short writing assignments. I will return cards to you for use in other assignments. Again, prepare reviews only for readings followed by an asterisk (*), below. Grad students must also prepare review cards for readings marked with a dollar sign ($).
  • Fieldnotes and blog. You will keep a daily journal in which you record your experiences in Ghana, particularly while traveling or living in the village (but also on campus), reflecting on the relations between music, culture, society, and history. Write about music, people you see, hear, or meet, conversations, sights and sounds and smells, behaviors, food, dress, language, TV programs. Interpret and assess your experiences; compare them and interpret their differences. 10-15 minutes daily is all that is required, though some of you will probably want to write more. Do not wait to write - good journal writing is daily, preferably just before sleep. These notes can be supplemented with documented audio-visual recordings (photographs, sounds, video). When you return home (or from Ghana if possible) you'll create a multimedia blog, using these materials selectively. The journal will be handed in and then returned to you, therefore please do not write anything in this journal you do not want me to read! (You may wish to keep a second private journal as well, which need not be handed in.)
  • Pan-Africanism and West African literature. You'll each read one West African novel (your choice--there are plenty to choose from in the University of Ghana campus bookstore - many not readily available outside Ghana, particularly Ghanaian literature), as well as Prof. Kofi Anyidoho's essay The Pan African Ideal in Literatures of the Black World (online), and prepare an essay about these works (reading review cards are not required), drawing on other material from MEAS 300/500 as needed to provide perspectives from perspectives of history, politics, linguistics, religious studies, oral tradition, and other fields. Interpret the writing of this novel using critical socio-cultural and historical perspectives.
  • Interpreting “music in Ghana” for North Americans. Using everything that you've learned in Music 365/565, Music 144/544, MEAS 300/500, and via other experiences traveling and living in Ghana, you'll write an essay explaining the diversity of music in Ghana (relating this diversity to both social and historical factors), for a North American audience. Discuss linkages--historical and present--between music in Ghana and music of West Africa, North and South America, Europe, and elsewhere.
  • Music and language. Using your knowledge of ethnomusicology, sociolinguistics, music, and language, augmented by your knowledge of other fields, you'll compare music and language as social systems -- and the related ways of studying them.
  • Fieldwork projects: I will deliver several lectures on ethnographic fieldwork, with attention to both technical and ethical issues, focussing on various techniques, including interview, participant-observation, fieldnotes, AV recording.
    • Interview. There will be two class fieldwork projects centered on interviews: (1) "Giving Voice to Hope: Music of Liberian Refugees". We'll visit the Liberian refugee camp (Buduburam) near Accra where this UofA CD was produced (, and meet some of the musicians whose work appeared on it. You'll take part in research focused on the roles and functions of music in the Buduburam camp, and especially the impact of our CD project, and how contributors feel about it. (2) Musical change in Dagbamete. During our two week stay in Dagbamete we'll conduct a collaborative oral history about socio-musical change in Dagbamete and the surrounding region, and the factors underlying such change. Everyone will conduct as many interviews as possible, and hand in transcripts, summaries, and analyses. After returning home we'll add these materials to a website dedicated to the topic. You'll writeup both projects as ethnographic reports, to be submitted along with your other assignments.
    • Ethnography of ritual performance. A description and analysis of the Dagbamete Apetorku shrine ritual (to take place all day on Sunday August 1st). In this assignment you'll deploy your participant-observation skills.

All papers should cite course materials: assignments (readings and audio-visual materials) and lectures (by lecturer and date), as well as drawing on primary field experience; include a "references cited" section at the end of your paper. Your grade will depend in part on how thoroughly you can integrate these materials into your argument. Expectations for graduate students will be considerably higher in this regard.

Detailed instructions and requirements for a number of these assignments are available here.


These assignments are not handed in, and thus are not graded. But that doesn't mean they aren't important! Remember: "practice makes perfect!". You learn both music and language in similar ways: by doing.

  • Ewe language. Practice Ewe lessons, by listening and repeating phrases. Audio recordings are essential for learning any modern language, but especially for a tonal language such as Ewe. Ideally you should try to bring a recording device to class.
  • Music x44. You must practice music presented in Music x44, by reviewing drumming patterns, practicing with your colleagues, and listening (if possible try to record your lessons). I suggest you purchase a drum; everyone will purchase drum sticks.

Evaluated performance

Please learn to locate all the countries of Africa using this interactive map quiz for countries. Optionally, study this one for capitals, for extra credit. I'll also give you a study sheet in Ghana.

  • Music and dancing. I will receive feedback from music and dance instructors in x44. Here what counts is dedication and progress, not level - you don't have to be musically gifted to do well in this course!


All coursework will be graded on a scale from 1-4 points. These grades will be combined (according to the percentage weights given below), then rounded to the nearest value in the following table, in order to arrive at a final grade for each course. Unexcused late assignments will be downgraded one quarter point per day.


  • A: 4.0
  • A-: 3.7
  • B+: 3.3
  • B: 3.0
  • B-: 2.7
  • C+: 2.3
  • C: 2.0
  • C-: 1.7
  • D+: 1.3
  • D: 1.0
  • F: 0.0


  • Music 144/544: Participation (70%); music and language (15%); interpreting music in Ghana (15%). Your final grade will depend primarily on active participation, not on proficiency in music and dance. However it is essential to practice and participate actively in all domains--singing, percussion, dancing--to the best of your ability.
  • Music 365/565: Reading review cards for required Music 365 readings marked with an asterisk (all) or dollar sign (grad only) (15%); fieldnotes/blog (15%); oral history project (15%); ethnography of ritual performance (10%); music and language (15%); interpreting music in Ghana (15%); participation (15%)
  • MEAS 300/500: Reading review cards for required MEAS 300 readings marked with an asterisk (all) or dollar sign (grad only) (15%); fieldnotes/blog (15%); oral history project (15%); music and language (20%); Pan-Africanism and West African literature (15%); map quiz (5%); participation (15%)

Academic integrity

The University of Alberta is committed to the highest standards of academic integrity and honesty. Students are expected to be familiar with these standards regarding academic honesty and to uphold the policies of the University in this respect. Students are particularly urged to familiarize themselves with the provisions of the Code of Student Behaviour (online at and avoid any behaviour which could potentially result in suspicions of cheating, plagiarism, misrepresentation of facts and/or participation in an offence. Academic dishonesty is a serious offence and can result in suspension or expulsion from the University. (GFC 29 SEP 2003)

On plagiarism see also:

Policy about course outlines can be found in Section 23.4(2) of the University Calendar.” (GFC 29 SEP 2003).

Readings, listenings, watchings

Course materials are listed below, grouped with the corresponding course segment. Most materials must be acquired in advance - either purchased, or downloaded. Many readings are available online, but your Internet access in Ghana will be a bit sporadic, so don't count on acquiring materials there. You can download/print the essentials, or bring an electronic device (laptop or kindle or...) allowing you to read without printing.

See Preparing for the Ghana program: course materials

Materials listed by course segment

Materials associated with travel throughout Ghana

Accra (Saturday, July 3)

Ashaiman (Sunday, July 4)

We will attend a funeral performance on Sunday July 4, in Ashaiman, to be preceded by a lecture on funeral associations from Prof. Gavin Webb. Please be sure to read the following articles beforehand:

My mother has a television*, by Professor James Burns (on Ewe funerals)

Undergrads should examine the following; grad students please read it more carefully: Ewe rural-urban interchange $, by Professor Daniel Avorgbedor (on funeral societies)

Buduburam & Kokrobite (July 9-11)



listen and read liner notes...

browse this thesis about Kpanlogo, one of the Ga people's important modern social dances, in which Mustapha played a seminal role

Tijani maulidi

We may also have the unique opportunity to attend an important Tijani Sufi celebration in Accra this weekend, in Accra. The trip will be optional, as is an associated reading on Tijani mysticism in West Africa

Cape Coast/Elmina/Kakum trip (July 16-18)


Listen and read notes:

  • * Immortal Franco (Congolese popular music, soukous), in preparation for Prof. Kongo's lecture

Ghana tour (Kumasi and Tamale) (July 21-28)



Dagbamete (July 29 - August 7)

Be sure you've read these before the village portion of our trip, in the Ewe-speaking Volta Region. Some are assigned for earlier phases of the program.

The Human Geography of Eweland

The Ewe Speaking Peoples of the Slave Coast of West Africa, by A. B. Ellis. (London, England: Chapman & Hall, 1890). Browse this older work critically, considering its place in the development of colonial ethnography, as well as a source on the Ewe.

My mother has a television*, by Professor James Burns (on Ewe funerals; assigned earlier)

Guardians of the Sacred Word: Ewe Poetry (Awoonor)

Steven M. Friedson - Remains of Ritual: Northern Gods in a Southern Land $. (required for grad students). Grad students will read this book about the Brekete religion of the Ewe people, and write a book report about it, summarizing and critiquing its logic, with reference to your own fieldwork in the Ewe area (note: unlike other reading reviews, this report should be at least 2 pages in length and will count for three ordinary notecard reviews). For undergraduates, this is an extra-credit assignment.

Music 144/544: Johnson Kemeh, Aaron Sukura, Kwasi Dunyo

Johnson and Kwasi

Handouts from Johnson Kemeh, our teacher at Legon, containing background on dance pieces, and song texts: 2007, 2008

Read chapters 1 & 2 from African Music, African Sensibility, by John Miller Chernoff.

Read David Locke - Drum Gahu: An Introduction to African Rhythm, listen to the examples, and try some of the exercises. If you have trouble with music notation, ask me for help.

Listen to Ewe music of Ghana and read the notes.


Documenting spoken and sung texts of the Dagaaba*

Bewaare: They Are Coming - Degaare Songs and Dances from Nandom, Ghana (Pan (Netherlands), PAN 2052CD, 1995); listen and read notes

Seprewa Kasa performed by Korankye, Osei; Kyerematen, Baffour & Banaman, Alfred Kari (Riverboat, 330051); listen and read notes.

Music 365/565

The following readings are required, except as marked. Please complete each reading prior to the lecture by the professor under whose name it appears.

Before July 2, please read the following

Music in Africa. Read Overview by Gerhard Kubik (which will work well with the opening chapters of Shillington); skim the rest for whatever interests you.

West African Music, by Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje. Skim for gist, linking to your historical readings.

African Music, African Sensibility, by John Miller Chernoff (University Of Chicago Press, 1981). Chapters 1 & also 2, if you can. (I do recommend this book for purchase; it's a classic.)

Popular Music in Africa, by Angela Impey

Jazz feedback*, by Prof John Collins (fascinating connections between Africa and the New World; Prof. Collins will be one of our teachers in Ghana)

Also listen to albums recommended below, and download liner notes. You can read the liner notes anytime, but may not be able to access the internet in order to listen while in Ghana.

Optional: Browse J. H. Kwabena Nketia - The Music of Africa (Norton, 1974). Prof. Nketia is the foremost living ethnomusicologist of African music, as well as one of the most important ethnomusicologists in the history of the field, and one of Ghana's foremost composers. And he is one of our teachers at Legon. And this is his classic work.

Other materials can be read in Ghana:

Professor J. H. Kwabena Nketia

  • The Problem of Meaning in African Music*, J. H. Kwabena Nketia, Ethnomusicology, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Jan., 1962), pp. 1-7. Landmark article by the most important ethnomusicologist of or in Africa - and one of our teachers in Ghana.


Professor John Collins

Many of Prof Collins' articles are available on his website.


Listen and read the notes.

Professor Nathan Damptey

Women's roles in the mourning rituals of the Akan of Ghana*

Professor Nissio Fiagbedzi

  • African Music, African Sensibility, by John Miller Chernoff (University Of Chicago Press, 1981). Chapter 2 (review - you should have already read this; if you haven't, read it!)


Mr Senyo Adzei

Professor Patience Kwakwa

Dance in Communal Life *

MEAS 300/500

Note that in addition to the following readings, you'll each read one novel by a West African author (your choice--there are plenty to choose from in the campus bookstore), as well as Kofi Anyidoho's essay The Pan African Ideal in Literatures of the Black World.

Before July 2, please do the following


Shillington, chapters 1,2,3,6,7,12,13,16. No reading cards are required for Shillington, however I expect you to draw on this material in your final essays - and to cite it!

Ghana country study: read to the end of chapter 1; skim chapter 2.

History of the Ewes, by Dr. Wisdom Agorde, along with Hogbetsotso: celebration and songs of the Ewe migration story

The Pan African Ideal in Literature of the Black World (Anyidoho)


...these interviews with Professor Anyidoho


Browse the Ethnologue's Languages of Ghana, and note the distribution of languages on a map.

Note the position of Ewe within the Niger-Congo family.

Browse The souls of black folk, by W.E.B Dubois (optional). We will visit the Dubois Center in Accra. You don't have to read this long work, but simply try to develop an appreciation for the tremendous importance of his writings for modern pan-African history.


Also please learn to locate all the countries of Africa (and, optionally, their capitals) using this interactive map quiz for countries, and this one for capitals. I will give you a map quiz at some point during the course, and you can study again in Ghana. But the online materials make studying easier -- dare I say fun?

Other materials can be read in Ghana:

Professor Alex Dzameshie

Professor Paul Agbedor

We will be studying structure and vocabulary of basic Ewe, and situating the language within the broader context of West African languages. The goal is not to master Ewe (!) but rather to get a taste of West African language structure, along with a few useful phrases. If there's time we'll also take up basic phrases in Akan or Ga.

Review the following:

Ethnologue report for Ghana and Language map of Ghana (browse)

Two online textbooks are Basic Ewe for Foreign Students and Ewe Basic Course; the latter comes with audio examples. However treat these works as providing general linguistic background and opening avenues for possible future study beyond summer 2010; we will have only limited time to study the Ewe language in depth. From a structural linguistic perspective, you will find it quite interesting to browse these works. They also contain vocabulary lists that you can put to good use. And you may like to load the audio on your ipod.

You will also compile or purchase Ewe and other phrase lists in Ghana.

Note: a portable recording device will be very useful in order to get the most out of language training sessions.

You may also like to browse this Akan training course

Professor Robert Addo-Fenning

Ghana country study Chapter 1, sections 7.1 - 7.4 (review)

West Africa-related material in Shillington, chapters 20,21,23,24,25,26

Christian missions and nation building in Ghana (optional)

Reverend Professor Elom Dovlo

Return home movements in Ghana*

Mr. Seth Ablosu

Ghana country study Chapter 1, sections 7.5 - 7.7 (review)

Shillington, chapters 28-30

Professor Akosua Perbi

Shillington, chapters 12, 16 (review)

A History of Indigenous Slavery in Ghana*, by Prof. Akosua Perbi, Introduction and Chapter 1. (A wonderful book, available for purchase in Ghana.)

Professor Mohammed Abdallah

The Trial of Mallam Ilya and Other Plays, a collection of his plays, sometimes available at the University of Ghana bookstore. Read at least "The Trial of Mallam Ilya".

You may also enjoy reading more plays in his The Fall of Kumbi.

Professor Esi Sutherland-Addy

Women writing Africa* (Introduction) Lots of fascinating detail here - skim for main points that interest you.

Professor Kofi Anyidoho

The back without which there is no front (Anyidoho)*

The Pan African Ideal in Literature of the Black World (Anyidoho) (review; you should already have read this pamphlet and you'll use it in one of your papers)

Guardians of the Sacred Word: Ewe Poetry (Awoonor) (Read prose and get a feel for Ewe poetry in translation.)

Sundiata: An epic of old Mali (optional)

Mali: L'Epopée de Soundjata

Ewe stories and storytellers: oral literature

Also see these interviews with Professor Anyidoho

Mr. Alhassan Sulemana Anamzoya

Anthropology of the Dagomba. (reading to be provided in Ghana)

Also browse this web site about Dagomba dance drumming.