Asante Ntahera Trumpets in Ghana: Culture, Tradition, and Sound Barrage

1st Edition

Joseph S.Kaminski

Published November 7, 2012
Reference - 232 Pages
ISBN 9781409426844 - CAT# Y240022
Series: SOAS Studies in Music Series

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Based on the author's fieldwork in Ghana with the Asante and Denkyira ntahera trumpeters, this book draws on interviews, field recordings, oral traditions, written accounts, archaeological evidence, transcriptions and linguistic analyses to situate the Asante trumpet tradition in historical culture. There are seven ivory trumpet ensembles in residence at the Asante Manhyia Palace in Kumase, and ivory trumpets are blown at every Akan court. The Asante trumpets, which are made from elephant tusks, are symbols of Asante strength and have an important role in Asante cosmology. Surrogate speech is performed via lipped tones through a tusk in praise of the Asante royal ancestors and the living Asante king. This book contains transcriptions and analyses of surrogate speech texts and their accompanying ensemble songs. When several ensembles play simultaneously as a representation of power, they make staggered entrances, beginning separate songs in order. This results in a simultaneous performance of separate songs. This phenomenon, which Kaminski has termed 'sound-barrage', is an ancient aesthetic, and is performed to protect the kingdom and the ancestors. It is both spiritual and acoustical. This 'sound barrage' is believed to act in the metaphysical world, dispelling evil spirits from court rituals, ancestor venerations, and funerals, for there is a spirit in the sound.

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