Ammasu Akapoma Group

Posted 2013-08-12

In the mid-70’s our family went to Ghana, my wife Prudence to do fieldwork for her doctoral thesis in social anthropology, and I to learn about west african music first hand. In Dormaa we encountered the magnificent chief of Ammasu and the regionally renowned Akapoma band. They invited us and our two small children to stay and study in their village. Our children spoke the language Twi fluently after one and a half years but then forgot it as quickly once back in Sweden.

In Ammasu I learned from Kwame Yeboah and became a member of the Ammasu Akapoma Group, the hottest music provider at funerals around Dormaa-Ahenkro in the Brong-Ahafu region of Ghana.

After 40 years the music in these recordings is as fresh as ever. This booklet mixes translations from the texts sung or spoken with my and Prudence’s comments.

Any important ritual function will open with pouring of libation, that is, drinks for the ancestors, to ensure a successful activity. Aweso music is light and mobile, including more singing and female participation compared to the official ritual music that uses the bigger Fontomfrom and Atumpan drums. Ever so often the texts are concerned with life and death. – Bengt Berger (from the booklet of  ce07)

Lets start with some good news as we enter 2023!

This is Amma Kyerenmaa who sings You Are So Brave, a funeral dirge on The Music of Ammasu album.

During 2022 Country & Eastern joined Tracklib a site for legal download  and licensing of music that sees to it that money will reach the original creators. In the summer of 2022 Brockhampton, a group from Texas with more than five million listeners per month used two seconds from Amma Kyerenmaas’ singing and offered a handsome sum of money in advance for use in the song Southside.

My family did spend a long time in the mid seventies in this small and not very wealthy village in the cocoa district of the Brong-Ahafu region of Ghana learning a lot from the generous people of Ammasu and later I was happy to release some of their great music.

So you can imagine the satisfaction and happiness it gives me that a couple of weeks into 2023 (a year we all fear will carry a lot of bad news), the Swedish drummer and traditional Ewe priestess Kristina Aspeqvist will travel to Ammasu to hand over quite a lot of money to the Ammasu village and the Ammasu Akapoma Band.
Happy New Year!

In February Kristina luckily travelled to Ammasu, met the present chief and presented the Ammasu Akapoma Group’s descendants and the people of Ammasu the money that has been earned thru the sampling site tracklib. She also got a chance to learn some of the Fontomfrom and Awesome music that I used to study more than 40 years ago. It is intersting to see how the palace has been renovated and the difference in the shape of the Fontomfrom and Atumpan drums. Here are some photos from her visit, Thank you Kristina and thank you Ammasu!

This is how the drums and the palace looked in the seventies:

The Royal drums

The palaver gives any villager a possibilitiy to have negotiations led by the chief and the elders

all records with Ammasu Akapoma Group

more info

There are four albums in all from Ammasu:
Apart from The Music of Ammasu (ce07) with a broad portrait of music in the village, three more mp3-only albums from Ammasu have been released:

cex06 The Music of Ammasu – more drumming
cex07 The Music of Ammasu – more singing
cex08 The Music of Ammasu – analytical drumming

Download the CE07 booklet as pdf.
Reviews from Songlines and The Wire

“Ammasu – an anthropological narrative” by Prudence Woodford-Berger

Video of Atumpan making with music in Ghana 1976:

25 Ammasu pictures:

From the funeral of the Chief of Ammasu, October 2, 2008: