Ammasu – Analytical Drumming
1975 - 1977 Ghana
This is Amma Kyerenmaa who sings You Are So Brave, a funeral dirge on The Music of Ammasu album. During 2022 Country & Eastern joined Tracklib a site for legal download and licensing of music that sees to it that money will reach the original creators. During the summer of 2022 Brockhampton, a group from Texas with more than five million listeners per month used two seconds from Amma Kyerenmaas’ singing and offered a handsome sum of money in advance for use in the song Southside. My family did spend a long time in the mid seventies in this rather poor village in the cocoa district of the Brong-Ahafu region learning a lot from the generous people of Ammsu and later I was happy to release some of their great music. So you can imagine the satisfaction and happiness it gives me that in February 2023 (a year we all fear will carry a lot of bad news), the Swedish drummer and traditional Ewe priestess Kristina Aspeqvist travelled to Ammasu to hand over quite a lot of money to the Ammasu village and the descendants of the Ammasu Akapoma Band. Here are some photos:
In the seventies I spent one and a half years in Ghana with my family studying Ewe-drumming in Accra and the Volta region, Brong-Ahafu-drumming in the small village of Ammasu and Lo-Birifor xylophone music with Kakraba Lobi in Accra and the north of Ghana while my wife Prudence Woodford-Berger was doing her fieldwork in social anthropology. Here you can read her “Ammasu – an anthropological narrative” view on things.
My Ko-Gyil xylophone teacher was the great Kakraba Lobi, his teaching is behind a lot of my later work with the Bitter Funeral Beer Band. He visited Sweden in 1978 for a tour we did together in Swedish schools and some concerts together and with our Swedish music collective “Ett Minne För Livet” (A Memory For Life). Here he is trying skiing in Sweden and playing in Ghana.
Kakraba Lobi passed away in the summer of 2007. Here is a fine film about his funeral by Bryan Hogan, A Great Man has Gone Out: The Funeral of Kakraba Lobi
We stayed for a long time in Ammasu near Dormaa where I was learning from and playing with the hottest funeral band in the area, the Ammasu Akapoma Band. I recorded a lot and released The Music Music of Ammasu at Country & Eastern plus three digital-only albums with More Drumming, More Singing and Analytical Drums.
Here is a slide show with the drum maker while he was making my Atumpan drums, accompanied by Atumpan drumming and Fontomfrom drumming, all from the album The Music of Ammasu:
Here are two more slide shows from Ammasu, first 25 Ammasu pictures:
and some from the funeral of the Chief of Ammasu, October 2, 2008:
Among other things I was learning Ewe drumming from Doe Kushiator and other master drummers at Institute for African Studies, Legon where Professor Nketia was in charge, frequently going to the Volta region to play and learn about it. Here are some photos from the Ewe village Penye
Ewe music meant a lot for me and the musicians I played with in Sweden and was a major influence on the Bitter Funeral Beer Band, for instance we played fairly true versions of the fetisch cult music Blekete and the social security music Gahu. Here is our version of Gahu, recorded at a Jazz festival in Frankfurt in 1982.