Kpanlogo rhythms originate in Ghana in West Africa and I have been taught many versions of this rhythm by many different teachers, all claiming theirs as the original. It is it appears, a popular rhythm with many variations and I have heard differing stories about it’s origins. One story suggests it was a rhythm, a drum and a dance derived to celebrate Independence. This from the Ghana Goods website.
Kpanlogo came in the wake of Ghana’s Independence, from the streets of Accra around 1962.
It was music played by the youth, shooting from the spirit of freedom that their new found independence had brought them. From the beginning it was not accepted by the elders of the community, the songs were ‘profane and the dance movements not decent.’ – Ghana Arts Centre.
After its acceptance by the establishment, it was adopted by the main political movement the C.P.P. A lot of the Kpanlogo bands were being funded by the late President Dr Kwame Nkrumah. Nowadays Kpanlogo is enjoyed by all played at both informal gatherings for pleasure as well as at Ga funerals and political settings.
The dancer reacts to the music in is or their own style, usually two dancers at a time (opposite sex), working off each other in a flirtatious sexual manner. During festival time the dance becomes congregational. Many people are seen dancing at the same time.
In ‘Highlife Time’ by John Collins he states,
Kpanlogo is a “neo traditional” social music and dancestyle of the Ga People of Ghana . It is said to be invented in 1963 by a man named Otoo Lincoln. The name Kpanlogo was that of a young girl in a Ananse folk tale. Its the rhythms and dance are a combination of Highlife(Pop music), Kolomashie (street processional music), Oge (a Liberian based music drum style) and Rock n Roll (i.e. the Twist). In 1964, the Kpanlogo was banned by the elders of the Arts council of Ghana becuase the dance was considered to “sexual” due to its hip movements. It was later redeemed after a public showing to the Arts Council.
Here is the pdf file for Kpanlogo Notation
In addition to the rhythms taught there are also songs that can be used to accompany the Kpanlogo. I teach two versions of Kpanlogo songs.
One I learned with Angie Amra Anderson which I use exclusively with kids and the other with Nii Tagoe which I tend to use in my Rhythms of the World Class. Both are essentially Gathering songs asking folk to come and play, sing and dance Kpanlogo.
Song 1: Call and Response Motif, 4 cycles of each.
Call: E-wa-ay Response: E-wa-ay ( Action: Hands in the Air, straight up or to one side then the other)
Call: E-wa-oh-way-oh-ya Response: Oh-ya (Action: Two moves to match oh-ya…let the children choose)
Call: Mini-ma-na-manola Response: Al-ey-loh (Action: Hands on hips and wiggle 1.2.3.)
Call: Kpanlogo Response: Kpanlogo ( Action: Hands out to side)
Song 2: Call and Resonse Motif
Call: Adjame adjame Response: Cha chu ma (4 times each)
Call: Ee ay ah Response: Ooooooooh (Higher pitch)
Call: Ah ow ah Response: Oooooooh (Lower pitch)
(Whole cycle twice)
Whole Group: Kpanlogo Ma