Popular musical Instruments in Ghana
Pianos, guitars and other musical instruments are popular all around the world, as they are in Ghana. However, Ghanaian music is cultural folk and the popular instruments for that include a variety of leather, wood, gourd, beads and string instruments. These instruments produce a unique sound that purely Ghanaian in nature. The following are some amazing and popular musical instruments in Ghana and some buying advice if you are getting them online –
• Aburukuwa or Abrukwa – This is an open drum made famous by Ghana’s Asante people. It is traditionally in the shape of a bottle with pegs holding the skin together. Curved sticks are used for playing this instrument. The music that comes out of this instrument sounds like the song of a bird, hence the name. It is mostly used during ceremonies and rituals, and the sister drums of Aburukuwa are Apentemma and Kwadum.
• Atenteben – Another beauty from Ghana’s music culture, the Atenteben is a flute made from bamboo. It can be played either chromatically or diatonically. Classical and contemporary Ghanaian music has seen a lot of this instrument but it is traditionally used for funerals. It is not just perfect for playing African music but classical as well. Universities and schools in Ghana use this instrument a lot.
• Kpanlogo – This is another drum which gets its name from the popular music it has inspired – Kpanlogo music. Ghana’s Accra region is where this instrument flourishes the most and that is also where it originates from. Traditionally, an ensemble of artists played this drum. Cowbell, Dunun and Djembe are usually played with the Kpanlogo.
• Djembe – This is a goblet drum covered in skin and is usually played with the drummer’s bare hands. The drum’s purpose and the meaning of its name are to “gather everyone in peace”. The head of the drum is made from rawhide while the body is made from hardwood that is usually carved. The exterior also has rings and ropes around it. It is an extremely loud and versatile drum.
• Prempensua – This lamellophone is like the rumba box, another gift from Akan. It is popular in certain areas and replaces Apentemma, Atumpan and Petia. It basically includes a large wooden box with three to five lamellae, each producing a unique sound. The bass tone of this instrument is round and if the Prempensua has timber, the sound can be quite enriching. There are metal plates on some versions of the instrument and they vibrate every time the musician plucks the lamellae.
• Apentemma – This is an instrument with a drum base about 60 – 70cm high, holding a goblet of 40cm diameter. The sound produced by this instrument is clear and rhythmic. Typically, with an instrumental ensemble, it becomes a talking drum. It can be played with bare hands or a stick. Usually, the body is painted in blue or grey color with a decorative linen fabric covering it. Together with Adedemma, Operenten and Petia, it forms the “shrine drums”.
• Talking Drum – This drum is shaped like an hourglass with the ability to regulate the pitch so that it mimics human speech. There are tension cords made of leather and dual drumheads are attached to them. Thus, whenever the cords are squeezed, the pitch and tone can be altered by the musician.
• Rakatak – This is Ghana’s very own percussion instrument. It has a narrow and long wooden shaft to which various gourd calabash shells are attached. The handle is at an angle of 90 degrees from the joining point. Rakatak is most popular in neo-pagan and traditional African music. The shells are usually decorated with interesting patterns or symbols.
• Xylophone – This is a modern musical instrument of Ghana which is just like a regular xylophone. There are wooden bars on the instrument and mallets are used for producing music. Every bar is scaled to heptatonic or pentatonic scales. For orchestras, however, the scale is chromatic. Semantron, Balafon and marimba are all included under this header. The African Xylophone typically includes Mbila from southern Mozambique’s Chopi people, Gyil from Ghana’s Dagara people, Silimba from northern Zambia’s Lozi people, Akadinda and Amadinda from Uganda, and Balo from West Africa’s Mandinka people.
Ghana Instrument Online Buying Tips
• Always Make An Offer – Don’t take the offered price on face value. Contact the person or comment on their ad and make an offer. You can save up to 15% by adopting this simple approach.
• Don’t Ignore Used Gear – Pedals and classic drums of Ghana might be found in the used section but they could be in mint or near mint condition. So, instead of looking past them, check out their condition.
• Don’t Try To Save On Shipping – It is never a bad idea to sign on delivery or get insurance when buying online. If you have found your favorite piece online, you should take every effort to protect it. Check the insurance coverage of the courier service.
• Check The Feedback – When you buy a musical instrument from a private seller, you can never be too sure. So, before buying, check out their feedback or see what the previous buyers have to say.
• Photos – If there are only a couple of blurry pictures of your musical instrument, don’t hesitate to ask for more. If there is any particular angle you want, ask the seller to click a picture from that angle and post it on the listing.
• Find Out The Story – The best thing about traditional and vintage instruments is that they often come with a story of their own. Has it been played by a particular tribe? Did it adorn someone’s wall for 50 years? How old is your instrument?
• Details – It is better to get as much detail about the instrument as you can. If the description seems inadequate, don’t hesitate to ask questions. In case of guitars, for instance, the neck should be straight. Pianos shouldn’t make scratching sounds. Your drum’s head shouldn’t have dents.
Finally, only buy an instrument you would be using. You don’t want to keep it in your closet and not play it.