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The Rhythm of the Crossroads

The Rhythm of the Crossroads

(p.123) 5 The Rhythm of the Crossroads
Remains of Ritual
University of Chicago Press

Although agbadza dominates the wake-keeping night at the Brekete shrine in Ghana, it is abey that rules the day. There is a concentration of forces in and around this music that makes it the gravitational center of activity for shrine members and gods alike, who spend an extravagant amount of time dancing, drumming, and singing to its fast-paced groove. During celebrations, it is played for hours at a time with no break, one continuous reverberation made up of hundreds of different songs. Abey is the most technically demanding of all brekete drumming, the site where the virtuosity of a master drummer is released and displayed. As with agbadza, it is shot through with hemiola, not only in the bell and the clapping, but on all levels, including the drumming parts of the kagaŋ and kidi; the former is based on a metrical pattern of three, the latter on a metrical pattern of four, the two parts together forefronting the polymetrical possibilities of the bell's timing.

Keywords:   agbadza, abey, Brekete shrine, Ghana, music, clapping, drumming, dancing, singing, hemiola

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