Trevor Wiggins Ghana Music Collection

Lambussie II: Xylophone, dancing, channa

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  • Is part of (Collection)

    Trevor Wiggins Ghanaian Music Collection

  • Recording locations

    Ghana, Upper West Region, Jirapa/Lambussie District, Lambussie

  • Recordist

    Wiggins, Trevor

  • Abstract

    (16) Goke. Goke are the players who play at the beginning of a funeral, the channa (hand-held cane zither), the pitilo (hoe blade, which is played by hitting it with a thick metal ring) and bugiloo (metal jingles similar to cow bells sewn en masse onto a deep leather belt, worn by a woman, and played by dancing vigorously). Pitilo players are the praise singers at a funeral - they will sing about the past records of the ancestors. Together, the three musicians walk around the village playing to call the Lambussie people to come and dance. On hearing the Goke the people will come out of their houses and dance in procession behind the musicians to the place of the funeral, where the two xylophones will be in position, usually near the dead body (on display in the open coffin on a raised decorated platform), ready to assume their lead role in the music. The channa, pitilo, pugolo and drum players take up positions next to the xylophones, and the people dance in file around them. The Goke also call the people to dance at other occasions, such as harvest celebrations. (17) Bosielo nyan kuo yei a ba wor choogdare. (The people of Lambussie have come in with their pomp and pageantry).This dance, of a type known as Guola, would be the first one to be played/sung/danced after the Goke have gathered everyone together. (18) Traditional Guola dance, always without singing in its original form. As the people dance around the musicians, they turn left in towards the centre, take two consecutive steps on each foot, then turn right again to continue round the circle.At funerals, the Guola dances are played one after another, followed by the Yiela dances (which include singing), at night or the following morning. (19) J.J. wo tor le an li fa nyor pumpi nyie. (If J.J. Rawlings had not been President, we in the north-west would not have known what pumps are.) The north-west of Ghana is its most undeveloped region, without mains water or electricity. Bore holes, which are sealed and pump clean water from a deep source, are now widespread in the area, as a result of development under the Rawlings government since the eighties. This is Yiela music, that is, playing, dancing and singing, which is traditionally played after Guola at the funeral of an elderly man or woman.This Yiela would be danced during the first night, or the following morning after the burial. (20) The most popular Guola dance, played at every Sisaala funeral which has dancing, and now the foremost cultural dance of the Sisaala people, frequently included in group or competition performances. At funerals, if the deceased was up to about 60 years old, this Guola is danced in front of the dead body. If the deceased was older, he/she is buried immediately and a date is fixed 2-3 months later for the remaining part of the funeral, including the Guola dancing. (21) Baba pi dabui yakan ya ka wille luose. (Baba threw a stone at me and somersaulted). Yiela song of the Lambussie Guola cultural group. (22) Fatchula Guola. Guola funeral dance, known as double-step Guola from the village of Fatchu, near Tumu. (23) Gombisi. Guola funeral dance, to be danced in a pair by the son-in-law of the deceased, joined by his best friend, at the beginning of the Guola dancing. Very energetic dance, with much shaking of the body - to demonstrate strength to your in-laws. This is followed by Hanyei, the woman's version of the funeral dance for the in-laws. Then follows a gentler version of Gombisi, called Zigitigi. (24) Basin si tie valu, ba sin si le ma valu, n cho an zi banna va yaa ba sin si tie valu. (People say I should not walk on the ground, should I go up and walk in the air or where should I walk?.Yiila song of the Lambussie Guola cultural group, in the modern, faster, shorter and more entertaining style preferred by the dancers and the group's audiences. When this is sung/danced, it is a signal that the dancing is finished. (25) Nya nya nya nya sin gya zu. (The nya nya person should not come to my house). The nya nya person is someone who does not sit still in one place, is always moving around and gossiping about other people. Song for the channa (hand-held cane zither), which often plays music similar to that played by the second supporting xylophone - the first has the main tune. When someone dies, another family member will call the channa player to the house, to play and sing privately for him/her. This could be before the main funeral or perhaps during the funeral, in periods of rest between dancing sessions. The lightweight portable channa thus provides music similar to that of the xylophone but in a private, more intimate situation, where it would be difficult to play the much larger xylophone. During the funeral, the channa plays with the praise singers (the pitilo/hoe blade players), at night, on the roof to call the ancestors of the deceased to come down (while the people are lying or sleeping). At this time the son of the deceased must sacrifice a goat as an offering to the ancestors. The channa is also played with the xylophone for the funeral dancing. (26) Hegara wi gya zue i si ken gya re. Si sorro wi gya zue i si ken gya (It is when backbiters have not infiltrated the ranks of your family that you say you have a home) or(If this kind of person comes to your house, he will break up the whole house). Channa song, as 10. (27) Bagsipal i ken bole bole, Bagsipal i ken bole bole. (Barsipal, you deserve praise) Barsipal is a hill near Lambussie, which the people worship as a powerful living spirit, one of the gods of the village. This song is praising him so that he will come down to the people, presumably to give them good advice. When he comes he is heard dancing on the roof.  It is believed that, when he speaks, he will be able to use whatever language is being used by the person addressing him; Sisaala, English, Dagaare or any other. Channa song, as 10 and 11. (28) Hala li lula woo ka hala li zog baala. (Women bring forth all the children of the world, but they also spoil the men) In Sisaala custom, if a married woman has an affair with another man, and does not confess, but cooks for her husband, he will grow sick and die. She will also grow pale and die. If she confesses, the family will go to the other man and demand a ram to sacrifice to purify the woman and restore her marriage. The husband cannot eat his wife's food or sleep with her until after the purification. If the affair continues, there is no possibility of a second purification, but the woman's food is not poisonous, so the first purification can be seen as a licence to carry on the affair. However, the husband then has the right to kill the other man. None of this applies the other way round, as the African man is held to be "naturally polygamous". Channa song, as 25-7. (29) Channa song. No details.

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    Music for xylophone, drums and percussion.

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