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Steven Hall, conductor

Betsy Jordan, assistant conductor

Program Notes

Traditional African music is a community activity and is functional. Traditional African music maintains deep connections with the aspects of the daily lives of the people including the history of their ancestors. Most traditional African music has four aspects: drumming, dancing, singing, and costumes.


Youth social music of Benin, West Africa. This dance is a celebration of friendship, kinship, and comradery. Traditionally performed with male/female partners expressing playful flirtation.


From the Maninka ethnic group, Kassa is performed in the Guinea regions of Macenta and Balandougou to celebrate baptisms and weddings. Kassa is also played while workers harvest the fields. The workers may have to walk miles from field to field and Kassa is sometimes played while the workers walk to the next field. It is also played to celebrate the bountiful harvest at a festival called the "Kassaladon".


Gahu is a form of music and dance that originated in Southwestern Nigeria as a Yoruba wedding celebration. Adopted by the Southern Ewe people of Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria, Gahu has evolved into a recreational music and dance performed at any social occasion by both sexes and all age groups. The name Gahu comes from the Ewe words "ga" meaning rich or wealthy and "Hu" meaning drum or dance for the wealthy.


Bamaya, meaning, "The river valley is wet", is the most popular social music and dance performed among the Dagbombas of Northern Ghana. Originally used for religious performances and performed only by men, Bamaya is now performed by both genders for funerals, festivals and other social occasions.

During a drought and famine during the 19th century, sacrifices made by rainmakers to their land god Tingban(a) were futile. The Dagbomba men decided that prayers by women to Tingban got a faster response so they dressed in women's clothing and went with the head priest to a grove where they believed the god resided. Due to their vigorous dance, the god was touched by the plight of the "women" and sent down an abundant rainfall. The name, Bamaya, was given to the dance as a form of gratitude and joy on the behalf of the dancers who brought the plentiful rains.

The two drums used for this dance are the gungon, which has a gut snare on each of the two heads to create a low-pitched buzzing tone, and the dondo or lunga, which has the ability to mimic tonal/rhythmic speech patterns by bending the sounding pitch of the drum by squeezing the string which connects the two heads.

African Ensemble Personnel:

Elizabeth Andrick, Johnna Bailey, Keith Bailey, Courtney Bell, Jason Breslin, Rachel Buel, Kayla Chappelle,Virginia Cook, Jenna DeVoss, Chris Grizzell, Erin Hensley, Jonathan Humphreys, Allyson Jasper, Betsy Jordan, * Greg Kiser, Nicole Michaux, Carrie Nowak, Ross Patrick, Sarah Pettus, Aaron Statler, *

* - graduate student

I owe a great deal of gratitude to Ms. Betsy Jordan for her assistance in working with the dancers. ----Steve Hall


Smith Recital Hall


Arts and Humanities | Fine Arts | Music | Music Performance

Marshall University Music Department Presents the Marshall University African Drumming & Dance Ensemble, Steven Hall, conductor, Betsy Jordan, assistant conductor