A Drummer's Testament:   chapter outlines and links

Volume I Part 4:  Learning and Maturity

I-22:  How Children Are Trained in Drumming and Singing


1.  transition to other talks of drumming

Drumming and family

2.  drumming moves through family
3.  a drummer’s son not forced to drum, but one son of a daughter must drum

Training a young child

4.  how a drummer beats his drum when his wife brings forth
5.  at three or four years old, child gets giŋgaɣinyɔɣu, a small drum, to play; no training
6.  by six to eight, gets lunnyiriŋga, smaller than lumbila; begins to learn
7.  accompanies drummers; carries drums; picks up money given to drummers and dancers
8.  begin teaching with Dakɔli n-nyɛ bia and Namɔɣ’ yil’ mal’ k-piɔŋ
9.  by twelve or thirteen, has used sense to learn what the drummers beat and sing
10.  the child learns his own family line and praises
11.  from the child’s grandfathers to father; will learn in six months to a year
12.  young drummer goes in night to other drummers to learn more; praise songs; presses his teacher’s legs
13.  some children do not need much teaching
14.  some children do not learn well; knocked with drum stick
15.  formerly, more forcing to learn; more serious; now people less willing to suffer
16.  Alhaji Ibrahim trained by Lun-Naa Iddrisu and M’ba Sheni; how Sheni talked to him

Training by dwarves

17.  child can be trained by dwarves; example:  Namɔɣu-Wulana Zakari
18.  how Zakari was lost in the farm
19.  the search for Zakari; the soothsayer’s advice; the funeral of Zakari
20.  Zakari found eight months later in the farm; would not speak
21.  medicine man treated Zakari; Zakari singing; he said he was kept by dwarves in a hole
22.  Zakari a great drummer and singer; never tired; different from other drummers

Teaching young drummers

23.  at fourteen to sixteen, get lundaa; begin learning Jɛŋgbari bɔbgu
24.  the meaning of Jɛŋgbari bɔbgu
25.  the proverbial names of the Yendi chiefs
26.  next learn the chiefs of other towns like Savelugu, Mion, and so on
27.  how the young drummers demonstrate the extent of their knowledge
28.  should learn both to sing and to beat the drum
29.  from sixteen to eighteen is when he can learn and retain knowledge


30.  young child must continue to sing through puberty or his voice will reduce
31.  singing voices are different; voice should be clear that people hear and understand
32.  how drummers work to improve singing; also use medicine
33.  not all drummers know singing or people’s lines; but must know beating

Learning comes from the heart

34.  someone who has no interest doesn’t learn well
35.  some drummers cannot beat on their own; need others to beat
36.  need patience and interest to learn; learning is in the heart
37.  must hear the sound of the drum; think about how the sound is coming

Traveling to towns to learn from other drummers

38.  by twenty-one or twenty-two, learn to the extent of beating Samban’ luŋa; may or may not perform
39.  go around to towns to learn from different drummers; differences in knowledge
40.  stay in drummer’s house; farm and work for him; learn in the night
41.  to learn about some chiefs or some talks requires animal sacrifices
42.  when go to another drummer, act as if do not know; only add his knowledge
43.  some drummers only teach; some use lundaa to teach

The importance of being taught

44.  some drummers do not go around to learn; only use their sense; comparison to Baamaaya drummers
45.  someone who was taught is better than someone using sense to beat (self-taught)
46.  beating with sense cannot go far; but someone who was taught can add sense
47.  the one who was taught knows the ways of drumming; limitations of the one beating with sense

Beating the different sizes of drums

48.  drummers can only learn their extent; compared to their progression among different drums
49.  comparing the different drums for praising
50.  drummers choose and get used to the drum they like to beat
51.  someone who beats lundɔɣu cannot beat lundaa the same way; lundɔɣu seems heavy to a lundaa drummer; lundaa and lumbila need more energy

Developing into maturity

52.  can learn singing; personal styles of the voice comparable to styles of drumming
53.  people show different sides of themselves when drumming or singing
54.  no charge when going around to learn; give gift when finished; share the benefits
55.  need patience to learn; don’t hurry; learn drumming well to receive the benefits of drumming
56.  the responsibilities of teaching; need to continue learning

I-23:  Traveling and Learning the Dances of Other Tribes

How Alhaji Ibrahim traveled to learn more

1.  dances of the tribes:  learning from experience and not from training
2.  Alhaji Ibrahim has learned many dances
3.  should beat without changing; otherwise make mistakes
4.  Alhaji Ibrahim trained in Dagbon and traveled to the South; some dances only beaten in South; guŋgɔŋ has different ways

Dagbamba drummers' knowledge compared to other tribes

5.  Dagbamba beat the dances of other tribes; other tribes cannot beat Dagbamba dances
6.  Dagbamba drumming difficult for others; examples
7.  this ability makes others wonder; another example
8.  speculate that drumming is difficult because Dagbani is difficult
9.  comes from intelligence and experience; differences among Dagbamba drummers; example:  Dakpɛma’s drummers don’t travel
10.  comes from being trained as a foundation before experience

Mossi dance and guŋgɔŋ beating

11.  example:  Mossi dance; Alhaji Ibrahim watched and learned the different drum parts; important to notice differences; Mossis and Yarisis
12.  example:  Alhaji Ibrahim can beat Mossi language clearly without understanding it
13.  have to adjust beating to the other tribe; example:  beating guŋgɔŋ to resemble Mossi drumming
14.  Alhaji Ibrahim’s learning is different from many other Dagbamba drummers; knows the differences
15.  different ways to hold guŋgɔŋ; the sound is important for correct beating
16.  example:  compare Jɛblin beating Gbada with a drummer who added Dagbamba styles; fit the sound but were not correct
17.  importance of learning work well; example:  how Alhaji Ibrahim beats Kotokoli dances


18.  example:  in South, beating Jebo for a Kotokoli princess
19.  Alhaji Ibrahim accurately beat Jebo drum language styles; people questioned him
20.  how the Kotokoli drummer asked Alhaji Ibrahim where he learned Kotokoli beating


21.  beaten differently for Dagbamba and Kotokolis (Gaabiti), because of language
22.  Hausa form of Zamanduniya is different:  Hankuri Zamanduniya
23.  Dagbamba form is Ayiko; only some drummers know the differences in all three
24.  Zamanduniya brought to Dagbon by Alhaji Adam Mangulana; not an old dance
25.  Ayiko was there when Alhaji Ibrahim was a child; how Alhaji Mumuni and Sheni used to beat drums in the market
26.  the name of Ayiko has been absorbed into Zamanduniya; only old drummers know it
27.  many styles in Zamnaduniya; Alhaji Ibrahim knows the differences and can beat them clearly
28.  to beat it correctly, the drum and the guŋgɔŋ have to answer one another


29.  Dagbamba heard it from Hausas first; originally Kotokoli; Hausas beat it without guŋgɔŋ
30.  Alhaji Ibrahim’s group beatsa it the same way ass the people whose dance it is
31.  Ŋun’ da nyuli styles can fit well inside Adamboli, but a mistake that spoils Adamboli

Other tribes

32.  Bassaris are close to Kotokolis; have lunsi drummers; Alhaji Ibrahim learned in Accra; taught Tamale drummers to beat it
33.  Chilinsis use only guŋgoŋ; Alhaji heard it ansd taught Tamale drummers
34.  Zambarima dance:  Alhaji Ibrahim learned it in Kumasi and Accra; also for Dandawas, beat Gbada
35.  Wangaras and Ligbis:  Kurubi; Wangara dance at Kintampo during Ramadan for unmarried girls; young men hire drummers
36.  how the girls dress and dance; one has to travel to see it
37.  Gurunsi dance:  Alhaji Ibrahim learned it at Kumasi and Kintampo
38.  Konkomba dance:  Alhaji Ibrahim learned it in Yendi; description of the instruments and the scene
39.  how Alhaji Ibrahim brought the Konkomba dance to Tamale and showed how to beat it
40.  Frafra, Ashanti, Gurunsi dances:  watch them and learn how they beat
41.  no other tribe can beat Dagbamba dances, not even Mamprusis; Dagbamba beat their dance
42.  Kusasis don’t use drums, so Dagbamba don’t beat their dance, but beat Damba for them

Learning:  training and experience

43.  Alhaji Ibrahim’s group always knows how to beat for any dancer; from traveling and learning
44.  learning the easy parts of drumming; learn the ways of different places, know how they change; follow the local styles
45.  once you learn something so that it is easy, it is not difficult to learn other ways of doing it; need to travel
46.  learn from somebody who knows it well, then travel and use sense to add
47.  John is learning drumming like that


48.  transition to talk of drumming eldership and chieftaincies

I-24:  Drum Chieftaincies


1.  introduction:  burial of a chief drummer; drum chiefs in Dagbon
2.  chieftaincy is leadership; increases respect in a group; drum chieftaincies began long ago

The origins of drumming and the chieftaincy of Namo-Naa

3.  Bizuŋ the son of Naa Nyaɣsi; Bizuŋ’s children are the line of drummers; drummers’ grandfathers are Naa Nyaɣsi, Bizuŋ, Ashaɣu, the line of Namɔɣu; Kosaɣim the line of Savelugu
4.  Namo-Naa the chief drummer of Dagbon

Hidden talks about chieftaincy descent

5.  a hidden talk:  people say Bizuŋ was Namo-Naa but the chieftaincy itself had not started
6.  chieftaincy talks:  people call all Yaa-Naas as fathers or children of Yaa-Naas
7.  Naa Nyaɣsi’s “children” whom he made chiefs in tindana towns were not all his real children, but they are called his children; if a chief has no children, drummers call his sister’s or brother’s child the chief’s son; even Yaa-Naas
8.  Namo-Naa the father of all drummers, and Namo-Naa is the line of Bizuŋ; but not all Namo-Naas are actual children of the line of Bizuŋ; Bizuŋ and other early drummers were not chiefs, but they are called Namo-Naa; one’s child is the one who does one’s work
9.  the difficulties of old or hidden talks, the secrets of drumming regarding the names and identities; people who have written about Dagbon do not know it
10.  early Namɔɣu chiefs were not drumming chiefs as they are today; chieftaincy has evolved
11.  example from Naa Luro’s Samban’ luŋa:  drummers did not go with Naa Luro to the war
12.  Bizuŋ and his children were there as drummers; gradually increased their presence

The Lun-Zoo-Naa chieftaincy

13.  different from Namo-Naa; now only in Gulkpeogu and Karaga
14.  relationship of Lun-Zoo-Naa to Bizuŋ; possible Guruma connection
15.  Lun-Zoo-Naa chieftaincy is older than Namo-Naa chieftaincy
16.  the seniority of Namo-Naa over Lun-Zoo-Naa; Namo-Naa from Yaa-Naa’s line
17.  the relationship of Namo-Naa and Lun-Zoo-Naa
18.  drumming chieftaincies are old but not as old as Dagbon; drumming itself is older; many differences among the towns

Standard order of drumming chiefs

19.  most towns drumming chiefs:  Lun-Naa is first, then Sampahi-Naa and Taha-Naa; then differences among chiefs following:  Dolsi-Naa, Dobihi-Naa, Yiwɔɣu-Naa
21.  examples of different ordering of drum chiefs in chieftaincy hierarchies at Nanton (Maachɛndi, Lun-Naa, Sampahi-Naa, Yiwɔɣu-Naa, Dolsi-Naa, Dobihi-Naa, Maachɛndi Wulana), Savelugu (Palo-Naa, Lun-Naa, Sampahi-Naa, Dolsi-Naa, Taha-Naa, Yiwɔɣu-Naa, Dobihi-Naa, and Palo-Wulana), and Kumbungu
22.  Lun-Naa not always senior; examples:  Nanton, Gushegu, Karaga, Mion

The position of Namo-Naa

23.  Yendi has many drum chiefs because Yendi elders have drum chiefs; examples:  M’ba Duɣu, Kuɣa-Naa, Balo-Naa, etc.; all follow Namo-Naa
24..the position of Namo-Naa and Yendi Sampahi-Naa; the respect of Namo Wulana
25.  the relationship of Zɔhi Lun-Naa and Namo-Naa chieftaincies
26.  Namo-Naa only beats drum for something important involing Yaa-Naa; Namo-Naa has his house drummers to represent him or stand for him
27.  all drummers look at themselves as children of Namo-Naa; drummers have no set town; formerly would follow chief who gave a drum; if have own drum, can follow any chief; drumming and traveling

How drum chiefs move from town to town

28.  Drummers follow chiefs; a chief can call a drummer to follow him as he moves from town to town
29.  drummers don’t have towns; example:  Karaga Lun-Naa Baakuri from Savelugu drum chiefs
30.  drumming chieftaincies follow two things:  family line and chiefs
31.  how drummers follow chiefs; example:  Tamale Dakpɛma Lun-Naa’s line from Yendi; leaving other Dakpɛma Lun-Naas’ family
32.  example:  Dakpɛma Taha-Naa from Karaga Lun-Naa Baakuri’s line
33.  if a town’s drummers challenge a drummer brought from another town, the drummer can show how all their families came from other towns; all are children of Namo-Naa, every town is their town

How drummers move into drumming chieftaincies:  olden days

34.  drummers can get a chieftaincy by following and greeting a chief
35.  some chieftaincies follow family door; if a drum chief dies, others will move up, and son will get a smaller chieftaincy
36.  if sitting drum chiefs quarrel over an open chieftaincy, chief can move the dead chief’s son directly to the position
37.  drum chiefs are not removed; example:  only current Naa Yakubu has removed drum chiefs along with removing towns’ chiefs; Dagbon chieftaincies are spoiled
38.  how Namo-Naa Issahaku was removed
39.  how a Namo-Naa must visit ancient Namɔɣu near Yaan’ Dabari
40.  in olden days, a new drumming chief only is a chief drummer died; chiefs were not removed

How a Namo-Naa is buried and a new drumming chief installed

41.  two ways to drum chieftaincy by chief who wants a drummer or by family door; join talk to drum chief’s death, burial, and succession
42.  a drummer is buried with a drum, broken stick, and skin; Namo-Naa buried with drum covered with leopard skin; burial dress and procedures resemble Yaa-Naa; Namo-Naa lies on skins of animals; the dead body is walked to the grave
43.  walking to the grave also for chief drummers of major towns; example:  also Savelugu, Gushegu, Karaga; Yelizoli
44.  after Namo-Naa’s funeral, Namo-Naa’s elders tell Yaa-Naa whom they want; if Yaa-Naa agrees, the new Namo-Naa is given chieftaincy in same room Yaa-Naa becomes a chief; walking stick, gown, timpana, guns

The installation of a Palo-Naa

45.  other towns’ drummers follow family doors; example:  Savelugu Palo-Naa; the starting of two Palo lines
46.  usually they inherit according to family; Palo-Naa succeeded by the next chief from his line
47.  how Savelugu drummers will talk to the Savelugu chief; cola sent to the new chief
48.  the drummer’s gather after the funeral; Palo-Naa Gbɔŋlana will sing resembling Samban’ luŋa; walking on knees
49.  how Savelugu-Naa will greet the Gbɔŋlana and Pakpɔŋ; sharing cola
50.  giving gown to the new Palo-Naa; the advice the chief gives
51.  removing the buɣu from the Gbɔŋlana; Gbɔŋlana given a wife

How Alhaji Mumuni refused drum chieftaincy

52.  formerly, drummers were not buying chieftaincy; chiefs feared taking drummers money; chiefs called drummers for chieftaincy and gave drummer a house, horse, stableman, wife, and household support; but modern chiefs want money
53.  Alhaji Mumuni’s refused chieftaincy because of his commitment to Muslim religion
54.  how Alhaji Mumuni refused chieftaincies in Voggo, Gushee, Lamashegu, Pigu, Savelugu
55.  example:  when Nanton-Naa Alaasambila was chief of Zugu, story of how Mumuni refused chieftaincy calls but had to visit Zugulana because of his wife was Zugulana’s sister
56.  before the Friday gathering, Zugulana planned with Zugu-Lun-Naa to offer Mumuni a gown and an additional wife
57.  Mumuni did not know the plan; the chief’s sitting hall filled with people; Zugulana said he had caught Mumuni for chieftaincy; Zugulana’s proverb to Mumuni
58.  how the Zugulana spoke to Mumuni; how Mumuni refused in front of all the people; Zugu Lun-Naa confesses the plan to Mumuni
59.  how Mumuni told Alhaji Ibrahim the story
60.  Mumuni’s story with Zugulana an example of how drum chieftaincies were formerly given; Zugulana continued to ask Mumuni even after he became Nanton-Naa

How drum chieftaincies are bought in modern times; rivalry over chieftaincy

61.  former chieftaincy customs compared to exchange of respect
62.  in drumming chieftaincy lines, people recognized seniority
63.  payment and bidding from additional competition within families; how princes buy chieftaincy
64.  modern drum chieftaincies are bought, the same as how princes buy chieftaincy
65.  some chiefs even announce the price for the drum chieftaincy that has fallen
66.  modern times, some drum chieftaincies are not bought, if a chief wants a certain drummer
67.  some drummers who pass over senior drummers to eat chieftaincy are attacked with medicines
68.  jealousy and rivalry; drummers pray to take a chief’s position
69.  Alhaji Ibrahim does not want chieftaincy; he is qualified, but he doesn’t want troubles

Drum chiefs’ responsibilities and need for support

70.  not all drummers become chiefs; Alhaji Ibrahim has family door but does not want chieftaincy; chieftaincy has responsibilities; need the help of brothers and children; example:  Namo-Naa has many people to send in his place
71.  a drum chief has people behind him; some drum chiefs cannot drum well or sing well; some are aged; they have children or grandchildren who can do the work; example:  Nanton Lun-Naa Iddrisu is very knowledgeable but very old; Nanton Sampahi-Naa Alidu does the work of Lun-Naa and Maachɛndi
72.  Alhaji Ibrahim not a drum chief but has more respect than many chiefs; Alhaji Mumuni the same; Savelugu young men’s drum chief (Nachimba Lun-Naa Issa Tailor) and the young drummers all follow Mumuni as their leader
73.  the same in Tamale with Alhaji Ibrahim; how Alhaji Ibrahim calls drummers from other towns for wedding and funeral gatherings
74.  why Tamale does not have Nachimba Lun-Naa; Tamale drumming leadership from Alhassan Lumbila, Mangulana, Sheni Alhassan, and Alhaji Ibrahim; based on respect and not chieftaincy
75.  how Alhaji Ibrahim leads:  the Tamale drummers gather at his house and follow Alhaji Ibrahim; he receives cola, assigns drummers to different houses, shares money; chieftaincy is in his bones

76.  Alhaji Ibrahim work as leader of Tamale drummers; because of his respect and knowledge; his position compares to chief of drummers 

I-25:  How Drummers Share Money


1.  Introduction:  sharing of money based on seniority and chieftaincy

Example:  how Namo-Naa’s messengers attend a Savelugu chief’s funeral

2.  Namo-Naa sends messengers to Palo-Naa; drummers beat to start funeral; Palo-Naa separates Namo-Naa’s share
3.  Thursday showing the riches; more drumming and money; Namo-Naa has a share
4.  Friday prayers; praise drumming; more money shared
5.  sharing the funeral cows:  some for Yendi people; some for feeding; some for visitors
6.  some cows for food; others are sold or taken home
7.  drummers beat when funeral cows are slaughtered at chief’s house; drummers get the heads; Palo-Naa gives to Namo-Naa’s messengers
8.  only the heads from the slaughtered cows; not the gift cows
9.  Namo-Naa’s messengers give some of the heads back to Palo-Naa; return to Yendi with money and cowheads
10.  Namo-Naa will share everything with the drum chiefs of Yendi

What Namo-Naa gets

11.  money and meat from funerals or wherever drummers go; also from people looking for chieftaincy
12.  Namo-Naa’s messengers at funeral, go around and greet chiefs, also receive greetings for Namo-Naa

Savelugu Palo-Naa

13.  Palo-Naa does not get the amount Namo-Naa gets
14.  Dolsi-Naa, Taha-Naa, and Dobihi-Naa a different door
15.  how Palo-Naa has to share with other drummers
16.  how Savelugu youngmen’s drummers share with elders
17.  Namo-Naa gets more than Palo-Naa because of people greeting Yaa-Naa for chieftaincy

Example:  Nanton drummers at a village chief’s funeral

18.  how Nanton drum chiefs attend the funeral of a village chief
19.  beating drums when shaving the heads
20.  barbers and drummers share the money
21.  seating the Gbɔŋlana
22.  dancing; summary of the money received
23.  sharing the money among the drum chiefs
24.  money reserved for sick or excused drummers
25.  money reserved for daughters of drummers
26.  the drum chiefs share the money
27.  how they share the cowheads and sheepheads
28.  why there are many animals at a village chief’s funeral

Tamale:  Alhaji Ibrahim and the young men’s drummers

29.  how Alhaji Ibrahim organizes drummers for different wedding houses; greeted with food
30.  how drummers earn money at wedding houses; more food before leaving
31.  differences when perform with dancers as a cultural group; dancers get their share
32.  normal way:  the groups bring their money from the different weddding houses
33.  sharing depends on work:  elders who identify people’s praise-names, singer, lundaa, guŋgɔŋ
34.  elders, singer, lundaa get larger shares; others get less; share even to children who collect money
35.  shares for the old drummers who do not beat, whether or not they went to the wedding house
36.  add for a drummer who has a naming or a funeral to perform
37.  drummers share the money at home to sisters and elders; covering the anus of Bizuŋ
38.  sharing a little to children in the house

The ways of sharing

39.  accept even nothing, even from an empty hand; covering Bizuŋ’s anus
40.  knowledge about sharing is from the elders; sharing has restrictions
41.  how drummers steal money; such a drummer will not advance
42.  drummers leave money in open; afraid to steal

How Alhaji Ibrahim became responsible for the Tamale drummers

43.  when M’ba Sheni was leading, he gave the sharing to another drummer who stole and became unable to sing
44.  how a voice can decrease:  by not singing through puberty or by stealing
45.  how Sheni gave the sharing to Alhaji Ibrahim; twenty-five years and no quarrels
46.  how Alhaji Mumuni told Alhaji Ibrahim not to share the money; what happpend
47.  how the drummers asked Alhaji Ibrahim to share the money; the lesson of Alhaji Mumuni


48.  the money from drumming is not consumed alone; shared among many people