Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Kambon-waa: Warrior music of Dagbon
by Haas, Karl J., M.A., Tufts University, 2007, 151; 1451852
Abstract (Summary)

In Ghana’s Northern Region members of a Dagbamba warrior lineage of Asante origin known as the kambonsi perform a traditional repertoire of drumming and dancing called Kambon-waa. Through the performance of Kambon-waa the participants of the event fulfill a religious and civic obligation to drum, dance, and shoot muskets at funerals for the repose of the spirit of the deceased, while the musicians rhythmically and melodically recount the history of the kambonsi, honor the warriors and chiefs of past and present, and challenge those in attendance to “right living” through the recitation of proverbs.

This thesis is primarily concerned with two main goals: the documentation of a tradition that has thus remained absent from the written archive; and the exposition of my theory of a "movable 1." This document is based on information gathered in 2006-7 during eight weeks of studying and performing with kambonsi in and around Tamale, Ghana through both formal lessons as well as performances in their traditional contexts.

Throughout this thesis I discuss the cultural and temporal contexts of these performances as well as the parallels to their usage in times of war. I will also discuss issues involved in applying African concepts to Western analytic paradigms, especially the use of standard notation for the graphic representation of non-Western music. I argue that the Western musicological notion of "1" is a cross-cultural concept, ultimately based not on a uniquely Western practice of counting beats but on the mutual agreement of a musical, temporal point of reference. It is my position that this concept is indeed at work in the music of Kambon-waa, and quite possibly throughout Dagbamba music. Through the extensive use of musical notation in the analysis of Kambon-waa, I argue not only the existence of this concept, but that this musical reference point is individually negotiable within the temporal framework of the music, a theory I call "Movable 1."

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Locke, David
School: Tufts University
School Location: United States -- Massachusetts
Source: MAI 46/04M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Music
Keywords: Ghana
Publication Number: 1451852
ISBN: 978-0-549-42773-5
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