Coffie, M. M. (2018). Bigshots Band’s ‘Too kɛ aduŋ’: A modern Ghanaian dance band highlife music
The superimposition of Western musical instruments on the conventional dance band highlife music has been the trend since its evolution around the 1950s. Despite Ghana’s monumental traditional instrumental resources, the dance band highlife tradition has not been able to break away from the colonising force of Western instruments. Too kɛ Aduŋ (goat & monkey), a highlife song by the Bigshots Band, however, is an exception to this trend. Traditional musical instruments such as gyile (xylophone), atenteben (bamboo flute), ŋoŋo (bell), shakashaka (rattle) and tsoŋshi drums (traditional palm drums) were featured prominently together with the Western instruments such as drum set, guitar, bass, keyboard synthesizers and horns in the song. This paper seeks to investigate the compositional resources and devices employed in Bigshots Band’s highlife song, too kɛ aduŋ, how they have been managed, and reasons for their inclusion in the body of work. The paper also discusses the arranging techniques employed in the song in the context of dance band highlife music, and some background to the influences that have shaped the song. A descriptive analysis of the song using the emic approach reveals a communal music participation, a concept found in African traditional drum music, where composite patterns are heard in integration and not as isolated units. The song also exemplifies a phenomenon of a proportional cross-cultural music fertilisation.