Traditional Music of the Asante People in Ghana Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1276 Words
Date:  2022-10-10


The Asante people are popularly known as the Ashanti form the largest tribe in Ghana. The traditional practices and cultural beliefs are widely embraced among the community members. Dance and Music form a crucial part in the commemoration of special events among the Ashanti (McCaskie, 2018). The songs contain diversified details on the songs, lyrics and minstrels, historical background, religion, and present and future hopes of the society. Music forms an integral part in the lives of the Ashanti played in all cultural activities from cradle to death. Life stages such as birth, initiation, puberty, the onset of adulthood, marriage, and death are all marked by traditional songs (McCaskie, 2018). Additionally, religious practices, economic activities, recreation, and political events are also marked by different types of music with each event attracting a particular genre of music (Arthur et al. 2015). The message conveyed by each music content also varies depending on the ceremony or event celebrated. The Ashanti music buys various western tastes that arose during and after colonial time and therefore it is a blend of American and traditional music (Agawu, 2014). Ashanti music is played with the close incorporation of the traditional instruments which adds to the rhythm of the music. Songs are used in different events and ceremonies which include weddings, funeral, wrestling events, farm cultivation, and war time. The ashanti music incorporates drumming which is highly used in the region for the creation of rhythm in healing events. Additionally, dances are performed with the Adowa dance marking the most common dance commonly known in the region as women dance.

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Adowa Music

Dances are incorporated in the music with different types of music and dances illuminated across the community. The subtribes are characterized by varied music type as well as distinguishing dances. The Adowa is a common dance performed by the Akan and in most cases performed by the Akan women. Consequently, the dance is referred to as women's dance. However, the dance is not only limited to women, but a small portion of men take part. Men are mainly confined in instrumentation with women taking the commanding role in the dances (Lewis, 2016). Adowa dance is performed mainly in funerals, but it is also performed during yearly celebrations, during visits from dignitaries as well as other celebrations (Lawrence, 2015). Adowa includes two bells (dawuro), hour-glass drums (donno), sonorous drum (apentemma) that is played by one hand, tenor drum (petia) played by sticks and a talking drum which is referred to as atumpan (Lawrence, 2015). The music is believed to be philosophical, offering life, death and humankind meditations. Among the instruments used, bells are played by women with men playing the other instruments. Men are tasked with the instrumentation role with women contributing to the dance and performance of the music. Adowa in Asante means 'Royal Antelope' which is rare and believed to bear graceful movements. During the dance, the Asanti women try to emulate the graceful movements. Additionally, the dance is played in funerals to give the dead a graceful send off.

Asaadua Music

Asaadua music was once known as a recreational musical performance dominantly exhibited by the Akan people. Asaadua owes its roots to the ingenuity of veteran traditional musicians started by the youth of the Akan as recreational music for men. Asaadua owes its name to the tree of Asaa which accounts for the gay and pleasant nature presented by the music and the dance (Lawrence, 2015). Asaa bears sweet fruits and is commonly found in Ghana's forest region. In this light, it can be concluded that Asaadua music is entirely for enjoyment and pleasure. Asaadua entails the use of a wide range of instruments. Nnawuta Double bell, Adawura slit bell, firikyiwa pod bell, towora rattle, donno hour glass drum and three tamalin (large, medium and small) are used in the dance (Lewis, 2016).

SikyiJust like Asaadua, Sikyi is recreational music and dance that evolved in the 1920s among the Ashanti youths. However, Sikyi gained popularity at around 1957 during Ghana's independence (Lawless, 2016). It is performed in social events which entail youths expressing their courtship. The music exhibits a flirtatious character, and it is which makes it suitable for courtship. It is characterized by strutting and bobbing which aims at displaying the theoretical elegance. The dance involves the use of instruments such as lead operenten, apentema, bell, shaker as well as the low, middle and high tamalin.


Fontomfrom is referred to as the most complex of the Ashanti musical types. Fontomfrom is a range of warrior dances which are performed on occasions such as religious functions, social contexts at the chief's court and ceremonial functions (Lawrence, 2015). The ensemble is widely used in communication of royal messages in diverse Ashanti tribal settings (Lawless, 2016). Fontomfrom drums are the main instruments used, and the complexity of the rhythm is impacted on the size of the drums as well as the loud sound produced.

KeteKete is common in royal courts of the traditional Ashanti communities. Any chief entitled to being carried in a palanquin has kete performed in their courts. Therefore, kete music is performed during state events and during festivals. The dance is made of three parts comprising of the drum music, an interlude of pipes and vocal counterpart of the pipe tunes (Lawrence, 2015). Playing of kete calls for at least eight pieces being played in a performance. The event of the ceremony in which the music is performed identifies the performance. For instance, Adaban is used when the chief is expected to perform the 'shooting dance' which is ceremonial among the Ashanti during the installment of a new chief. During precessions, Apente is used.


Among the recreational songs in the Ashanti people, Sanga also stands out distinctly. Just like the Sikyi music, the music and dance are flirtatious. The dance is usually referred to as chase due to its gay and flirtatious nature (Lawrence, 2015). Sanga women dancers wear bustles with the aim off attracting men.


The music and dances across the Ashanti people in Ghana serve different purposes with crucial life events marked by musical rhythm. Asafo, akatape, adaban, asafo, and abofoo are the common healing rhythms played in the community, and it targets at mediating for the community to the gods and guide the community healing in vast areas of traditional application in the society. The Ashanti people have a wide range of ceremonies which rely heavily on traditional music for commemoration. Some music such as fontomfrom is used in communicating important information to the community members in the individual tribal sections in the community. the musical presentation of the Ashanti music relies on the use of instruments which boost the appeal, rhythm, and flow of the dance. Just like other corners of the world, the Ashanti music serves a wide range of purposes ranging from ceremonies such as funerals wedding, courting, and initiation. Political events such as the initiation of new chiefs are also served with relevant associated music. In this case, musical representation is brought out of high value among the Ashanti with most of the events in the society improved by the musical commemoration.


Agawu, K. (2014). Representing African music: Postcolonial notes, queries, positions. Routledge.

Arthur, N. A. P., Asante, E. A., & Opoku-Asare, N. A. (2015). the educational role of performing and visual arts in asante traditional politics. International Journal of Education through Art, 11(1), 117-135.

Lawless, J. (2016). KSU Percussion Ensemble," Spring Concert".

Lawrence, B. (2015). Ashanti: Music & Dances - Ghana Goods. Retrieved from

Lewis, T. (2016). Ethnomusicology, world music and analysis in African music. Australasian Review of African Studies, The, 37(1), 95.

McCaskie, T. (2018). 'You are the music while the music lasts': Kwame Tua between the Asante and the British. Africa, 88(2), 205-221.

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