Dagbon music and the Hiplife zone in Ghana

Begin - Einde 
2016 - 2020 (lopend)
Vakgroep Kunst-, Muziek- en Theaterwetenschappen
Vakgroep Talen en Culturen



This research is based on extensive fieldwork during the period 1999 – 2010 in the Northern Region of Ghana and aimed at documenting an endangered traditional music-dance culture of Dagbon. The project resulted in a comparative study of how the traditional African idiom of music-making transforms into “The Hiplife Zone”, the urban idiom of today’s Dagbon society combining continuity and change. Special attention is paid to phenomena of cultural transformation in embodied music-making. Among the key elements of such embodied interaction are the lyrical use of proverbs, the structural aspects of music related to tone, timbre, syncopated rhythms, dances and body movements, phraseology and speech rhythms. Embodiment music interaction is also referred to in the literature as “The African Hemiola Style”. By means of examples the research describes the time depth of Dagbon musical Akanisation and cultural transformation processes from pre-colonial times to the current local development of a Dagbon Hiplife Zone, and the emergence of an urban district Dagbani form of Hiplife (a local Ghanaian techno – pop) in the global age. We show how traditional African idioms of music-making creatively blend with cross-cultural and cross-musical components that stem from African, Afro-American, Bollywoodish and Western inspired idioms of music making.

The Hiplife Zone, D. Phyfferoen (supervisors: K. Stroeken, M. Leman)