This video features a 2003 performance of Kevin O’Sullivan, a Fulbright Scholar, performing “Atsiã” that he orchestrated on drum set. According to Kevin, “Atsiã” was created by the Ewe-speaking people of Ghana. It is considered by many to be one of the oldest styles of music and dance among the Ewes. “Atsiã” is a social dance. In the Ewe language atsiã means “style” or “to display.” “Atsiã” as a piece is comprised of drumming, dance and songs collectively.

To recreate Atsiã on the drum set I have assigned the parts traditionally played by different members of an Ewe drumming ensemble to the different limbs of my body. The role of Gankogui (a double bell) which is the time keeper in this music is played by my left foot. The role of Kidi (a small supporting drum) is played by my left hand. The role of Sogo (a supporting drum like kidi but larger) is played by my right foot. In a dialogue (a conversation between the lead drum and the supporting drums) I play the open notes with my left hand and the closed notes with my right foot. The role of Atsimevu (a tall, narrow drum which the lead drummer uses to communicate with the rest of the ensemble) is played by my right hand.”

The independence Kevin demonstrates on this video is phenomenal. For more information on Kevin or to check out his drum set book, visit his website. Do you have experience adapting other styles to the drum set? Leave a comment below.

Originally posted on DrumChattr on January 4, 2011 by Dave Gerhart.

Dave Gerhart
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