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Fiddling in West Africa

Touching the Spirit in Fulbe, Hausa, and Dagbamba Cultures

Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje

Publication Year: 2008

Fiddling has had a lengthy history in Africa which has long been ignored. Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje corrects this oversight with an expansive study on fiddling in the Fulbe, Hausa, and Dagbamba cultures of West Africa. DjeDje not only explains the history of the instrument itself, but also discusses the processes of stylistic transference and adaptation, suggesting how these may have contributed to differing performance practices. Additionally, DjeDje delves into the music, the performance context, the musicians behind the fiddle, the meaning of the instrument, and its use in these three cultures. This detailed work helps the reader understand and appreciate three little-known musical cultures in West Africa and the fiddle's influence upon them.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Contents

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pp. vii-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

Many foundations, organizations, institutions, and people are responsible for helping me write this book and bring it to closure. Several foundations and institutions financially supported my research in West Africa. Among these are the Ford Foundation, the United States Department of Education, and many units at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), my home institution: the Academic...

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Introduction: A Master Fiddler and a Signifi cant but Little- Known Tradition

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pp. 1-10

On Saturday, August 11, 1990, I left Accra, Ghana’s capital city, accompanied by my research associate M. D. Sulley— a native speaker and teacher of Dagbani language at the University of Ghana, Legon— and traveled approximately four hundred miles north to Dagbon, home of the Dagbamba people. The purpose of the journey was to work with Salisu Mahama...

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1. Fiddling in West Africa: Understanding the Culture Area

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pp. 11-42

Musically, West Africa is perhaps the best- known and least- understood culture area on the African continent. Although as the quotation above clearly demonstrates, West African musicians have used the fiddle for at least three hundred years, the region is usually identified with drumming. In spite of recent scholarly publications on various ethnic...

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2. An Affirmation of Identity: Fulbe Fiddling in Senegambia

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pp. 43-102

Musically, West Africa is perhaps the best- known and least- understood culture area on the African continent. Although as the quotation above clearly demonstrates, West African musicians have used the fiddle for at least three hundred years, the region is usually identified with drumming. In spite of recent scholarly publications on various ethnic...

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3. Calling the Bori Spirits: Hausa Fiddling in Nigeria

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pp. 103-168

Fiddling in northern Nigeria is most often identified with the Hausa, despite the fact that outsiders introduced it to the Central Sudan. Unlike the one- stringed fiddle’s roles among Senegambian Fulbe or the Dagbamba of Dagbon, the goge, or Hausa fiddle, does not symbolize ethnic identity nor does it represent high social status. The poem “Surely in Truth,” quoted above and written by Shehu ‘Uthman dan Fodio (1754–1817), a Fulbe scholar...

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4. In Service to the King: Dagbamba Fiddling in Ghana

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pp. 169-241

The Dagbamba fiddle, or gondze, is a court instrument that is considered to be the most beloved of the king (Ya Naa) of Dagbon,1 a small but politically important kingdom in northern Ghana. Performed by professionals who belong to the same family or clan, Dagbamba fiddlers are highly valued and have a high social status because the...

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Conclusion

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pp. 242-250

West African fiddling is not a minor and unchanging tradition, but is dynamic and highly developed. In addition to the joy and pleasure to be found in simply listening to fiddle music, the sound of the instrument has a way of touching the spirit and soul of those who experience it. While some West African musicians became fiddlers because it was...

Appendix: Distribution of the One-Stringed Fiddle (Listed by Country)

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pp. 251-256

Notes

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pp. 257-298

List of References

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pp. 299-318

Discography and Videography: Selected Recordings of One-Stringed Fiddle Music from West Africa

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pp. 319-324

Index

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pp. 325-337


E-ISBN-13: 9780253000095
E-ISBN-10: 0253000092
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253349248

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: 19 b&w photos, 34 figures, 10 maps
Publication Year: 2008