kontihene Music Online

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History of Ghana Music

Ghana has many varied styles of traditional and modern music, due to its vibrant ethnic groups and geographic position in West Africa, enjoying cosmopolitan cultures. The most well known genre to have originated in Ghana is Highlife, which among youth had in the late 1990s had incorporated Hip-Hop influences to establish a newer hybrid genre, known as Hiplife.
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Traditional music in Ghana is based on two factors: ethnic groups and geography. The country is home to numerous ethnic groups, whose musical styles can be put into two main categories:

Southern
Inhabited by ethnic groups speaking broad Kwa and Gbe language groups. The cultures of these fertile forested regions were isolated from Sudanic influence that dominated the North. The music of southern groups are highly associated with social or spiritual function, and rely on complex polyrhythmical patterns played by drums and bells, as well as a stronger emphasis laid in harmonized song. An exception to this rule is the Akan tradition of praise-singing with the Seperewa harp-lute, a now dying genre which had its origins in historic influence from the griot traditions of the Manden empires to the north-west.
Under the Southern category, there branch out two main groups:
Akan and Ga ethnic musical genres, including Fante, Ashanti and Akuapem groups. This category is known for complex court music, including the Akan atumpan and Ga kpanlogo styles, and a huge log xylophone used in asonko music. The 10-14 string Seperewa harp-lute and its musical genre is now rare, being replaced with the acoustic guitar.
Ewe musical genres, whose folk styles are related to the music of Benin and Togo. The Ewe have also contributed popular styles, especially the agbadza and borborbor, a konkoma highlife fusion that was invented in the early 1950s in ramshackle huts all over the country.
Gw and RF are also main styles of Ghanaese music. It is a tradition that they sing at festivals, which they call the Grace of lifestyle.

Northern
The music styles of this region, which lies in the sparsely vegetated Sudan and Sahel grassland belts, are generally grouped into a larger Sahelian West African musical umbrella category (along with Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, northern Nigeria and Niger), due to ethnic migrations and cultures historically crossing borders from the rest of the region into the country during the Songhai Empire and Mossi empires abroad, and the indigenous Dagomba, and Mamprussi states. Peoples of this region base musical composition on stringed, wind, melodic as well as complex polyrhythmic composition with a variety of drums and bells. As with other Gur and Mande groups in West Africa, a long history of griot praise-singing traditions exists among the various groups in Northern Ghana. Music in the northern styles are mostly set to a minor pentatonic scale. Two main areas can be identified under the northern category:
North and Northeastern Ghana is known for talking drum ensembles, goje fiddle and Molo lute music, played by the Gur-speaking Frafra, Gurunsi and Dagomba nations, as well as by smaller Fulani, Hausa, Mande-speaking Busanga and Ligbi peoples.
Upper-Northwestern Ghana is home to the Dagara, Lobi, Wala and Sissala peoples, who are known for complex interlocking Gyil folk music with double meters. The musical traditions of the Mande Bissa and Dyula minorities in this area closer resemble those of neighboring Mandinka-speaking areas than those of other Upper-Northwestern groups.
Drums are not liked in Western countries due to the noise but in Africa they are culture and tradition from centuries ago.