University of Pittsburgh

A Mellon Fellow Abroad-Part II

drum_and_trump.jpg During recent fieldwork, Andrew Mellon Pre-doctoral Fellow J. S. Kofi Gbolonyo took this photo of drum makers in the town of Peki Yensu, Ghana as they tested out their recent creations. These are the same makers who crafted the instruments currently in use by Pitt's African Music and Dance Ensemble. According to Kofi, the trumpet is used only for rhythmic reinforcement, and not melodically. The use of the trumpet in this context is a good example of how African communities appropriated elements of colonial influence into indigenous culture. Kofi drew on his fieldwork for recent presentations at the American Orff-Schulwerk Association 2007 National Conference which took place in San José, California November 14-17. He gave three sessions focusing on African percussion, rhythmic theories, and analysis; world music education and pedagogical approaches; and Orff-Afrique techniques. In his first session, “Orff-Afrique Demystifies African Polyrhythmic : A Rhythmic Art of Play,” he analyzed common African polyrhythmic patterns and, through the art of play, led participants through holistic rhythmic exercises on instruments including drums, xylophones, and the body. For the second session, "Exploring African Children's Musical World in Multicultural Institutions," Kofi guided participants into West African children’s holistic musical world of games, songs, instrumentation, dance, and rhythms, He incorporated music from Ghana, Togo, and Benin for this experience. The third session, "The Orff-Afrique Concept of ‘Music’: A Holistic Approach to Teaching Music and Dance," employed traditional African and Orff-Schulwerk techniques in practically defining ‘music’ in holistic (African) terms. The session involved practical drumming, dancing, singing, and analysis of in-depth cultural and philosophical meanings, including their physical, and social affects.

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