Katherine Moss

Publication Date

Spring 1998


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the role of Adowa as a vehicle to express ethnic identity in Asante society. First, background information regarding African music is presented, bringing to light the concept of African music as an integrated, 'total art' and highlighting the distinction between traditional and contemporary African music. Traditional music is discussed in terms of its defining features, continuity through enculturation, and imitation of natural patterns of African speech. Based on such conceptions of African music as both 'total' and traditional (as the section heading suggests), Adowa as a socio-music form is introduced and detailed as a signifier of ethnic identity based on its social function and context, communal use, emphasis on collective responsibility, and encourage of group participation, as well as its representation of shared values and belief of the Asante people. Under the rubric of these three defining features, the two subsequent sections offer an in-depth analysis of Adowa - from its origins and history, to the instruments and technical features involved in its performance, to its specific dance movements and their corresponding meanings - all of which contributes to Adowa assertion of Asante ethnic identity.


African Languages and Societies | Arts and Humanities