Music Research Institute

Form and Meaning in Ewe Song:
A Critical Review

by Nissio Fiagbedzi
Published by the MRI Press 

349 pages, includes Music Examples, Map, Figures. 
ISBN  978-1-933459-00-4

$24.00 per copy plus shipping 

Table of Contents
Excerpts From the Text

About the Author 

Form and Meaning in Ewe Song:
A Critical Review

by Nissio Fiagbedzi

  • Foreword by Kofi Agawu
  • A Note on Ewe Orthography
  • List of Tables
  • Figures & Illustrations
  • Acknowledgements
  • Map of Eweland
  • I  Introduction
  • II  Theories, Concepts
    • Hagbe and Nyagbe: Twin concepts of Ewe Song
    • Rhythm
    • Text-Tune Coordination
    • Tonal Materials
    • Modal Scales of the Southern Ewe
    • Polyphony
    • Meaning
  • III   Studies
    • On Jone’s Staggered Rhythm and other Procedures
      • Song 2. For Boys
      • Song 3. A Lullaby
      • Song 4. For Little Boys and Girls
      • Play Song 7. For Little Boys and Girls
      • Song 8. For Boys
      • Fishing Song 1. Sprat/Tilapia-Catching Song – For Lagoons Only
      • Song 2. Paddle Song
      • Fishing Song 3. Hauling in the Seine-Net
      • Fish-Collecting Song 4
    • Nine Other Studies: Two Approaches
      • A2a3atram
      • Zigi
      • Agbo
      • Aviha
      • Gbolo
      • Akpalu
      • Asorme Seku
      • Sogbadzi
      • Atsub4ta
  • IV  Issues
    • The Word-Sound Further Explained
    • Ewe Modes Vrs the Type-Series Question
    • Variants, Closures and Modal Centres
    • The 6-Tone Modal Scales of the Northern Ewe
    • The 7-Tone Modal Scales of Northern Ewe Song
    • 7-Tone Variant-Free/Substitute Pitch Modes
    • 7-Tone Modal Scales with Variants
    • 1-, 4-, & 5-Tone Modal Scales of the Southern Ewe
    • 6-Tone Modal Scales of the Southern Ewe
    • 7-Tone Variant-Free Modal Scales of the Southern Ewe
    • 7-Tone Modes with Variants of the Southern Ewe
    • Analysis at the Level of the Individual Song
    • Ewe Song Vrs Modulation
    • The Song Text Question
    • The Intragestural Solution
    • The Background Narrative
    • Ku Le Ye3e Me Analysed
    • Matters Aesthetic
    • The Analysis Issue
  • V  Analyses
  • VI  Summary & Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • A Glossary of Ewe Terms
  • Index


Excerpted from the Foreword:

…The fact that this process of rationalization demands recourse to a variety of voices, among them indigenous practitioners (like Akpalu and Atsubota), Africanists (like Jones, Amoaku, Anyidoho, Nketia, Fiagbedzi himself, and myself), and Western aestheticians and semioticians (like Wilson Coker and Suzanne Langer), may serve to reassure us that such dialogues are not only possible but necessary; they point to the very condition of humanistic knowledge production today.

Excerpted from I Introduction:

…From the foregoing, it would seem evident that the views expressed on rhythm have drawn upon principles derived largely from dance drumming. Very little work has been done on the rhythm of song. The present work thus seeks to fill the gap.

Excerpted from IV Issues:

…the individual piece itself must be allowed to point to and demonstrate the cultural, historical and other baggage not only native to it but as may direct the analyst to bring out the intended meaning of song as a unified art form.

Excerpted from VI Summary & Conclusion:

…This book presents an overview of the important theoretical ideas and viewpoints expressed concerning the form and meaning of Ewe song as well as of studies carried out on the subject since the 1920s.

Excerpted from VI Summary & Conclusion:

…Since the 1960s, however, two important theories that have sought to account for their foundations have been advanced. They are: (i) harmelodic theory and (ii) a model of implicit vertical awareness theory. As may be deduced from their individual perspectives, there seem to emerge a point of convergence.

About the Author

Dr. Nissio Fiagbedzi, a Ghanaian, is retired Senior Lecturer of the University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana.


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