Monday, May 25, 2015

Final days before the concert

Hello again everyone. This is actually Ben, if anyone is confused, my account is one of the only ones working on this internet connection for some reason.

Today the group and a few staff members went to the market, which is a maze of stands full of linens, food, and other necessities and crafted goods. I had a good time haggling for beads and bracelets, trying to get past the "yevu price" for goods(yevu=foreigner). Afterwards, we went to the beach for a swim. The rest of the day we hung around, were made fun of by the village children in Eve, and geared up for our concert tomorrow.

It's sad to be at the end of the trip, especially now that we are comfortable with being here, and becoming close friends with many of the staff members at the center and others in the village. It will definitely be strange to adjust back to technology laden fast-paced life in America. The highlights of my experience here in Kopeyia were the ceremonies, especially the funerals we attended. As you may have read, these events are huge social gatherings, with dancing, eating, drinking, and merriment, alongside specific rites surrounding the passed persons. The most recent one we attended had two massive dance/drum circles, one for the "Kinka Association", where everyone was wearing green and playing Kinka, a traditional Eve song with a distinct bell pattern. We saw many acquaintances we had met at other funerals, and danced with them and exchanged greetings. I had the honor of dancing with the Chief.

Another thing I'll be taking away from this trip is a new understanding of music from people who practice it as a way of life. A crucial part of Eve music that has been reinvigorating to my interest in playing music is how different it is from Western music. Although many parts of pieces can be felt in two or four beat patterns, it is best to let go of these counts in your mind when performing the music. Bell patterns might have 3 or seven hits in a "measure", but I found that understanding them as continuous let me feel them more accurately. Background drums and shakers might come in twos or fours, but also have a flowing feeling, especially as lead parts often bend and weave between what we might think of as conventional timing in the music. Learning songs with my teacher Mensah has also given me a more intuitive idea of singing, especially in harmonies. When Meaghan and I asked him to instruct us on harmonies, he told us just to sing them, and practice until they naturally sounded decent.

I'm sad to be leaving Ghana and I hope I'll be back again soon, but I am definitely looking forward to eating some familiar food and sleeping on a mattress that won't be drenched in my own sweet halfway through the night.

P.S. I began posting this before the concert and we had a blackout just beforehand. So I'm writing now after a successful performance! We got applause, not laughter, from the villagers and friends attending, meaning we did a decent job dancing. I performed ten songs I learned, and Lauren recited the Eve alphabet and other phrases she learned. The staff members had some amazing dances which Joss caught on video.

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