– photo of Fontomfrom and Atumpan drums and story by Ghana Tourism Authority
If you have ever listened to any African music or witnessed either a social, political or ceremonial event, you almost certainly have heard the sound of a drum.
In Africa, drums hold a deeper, symbolic and historical significance. They herald political and social events, form conferences to rallies, birth to death, courtship to marriage but most importantly durbars where they accompany religious rites and rituals.
African music relies heavily on fast-paced, upbeat rhythmic drum playing found all over the continent. In West Africa, the drum is the sign of life and its beat is the heartbeat of every community.
In Ghana, drums have remained significant for decades. They have served as a medium of communication which was used by ’gongo beaters’ to announce to the people a communique from the chief.
They are used as an alarm or a call to arms as well as stirring up emotions for battle and war. They can also inspire passion and excitement and even cause trances, a momentary loss of consciousness to either the drummer or the listener.
Drums symbolize and protect royalty and are often housed in sacred dwellings and are protected during battle. On the other hand, drums are about communication and making music.
Fontomfrom drums – Fontomfrom is a royal ensemble and owned by various village, district, or regional chiefs in Ghana. The sound of this drum makes the general public aware about the presence of an important individual.
Atumpan – It is a type of talking drum used by Bono people. Usually played in pairs, these drums play a crucial role in the Adowa dance. The Atumpan is usually the master drum in the Adowa ensemble.
Apentema – This drum belongs to the Kete tribe and is usually covered in red and black-checkered cloth.
The Adowa drum ensemble is made up of Fomtomfrom, Atumpan and Apentema to complement the great Adowa dance. Other drums in Ghana include Ashiko, Dondo, Atsimevu, Bongolo, Brékete/Gungon, Conga, Djembe.
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