International Council for Traditions of Music and Dance

A Non-Governmental Organization in Formal Consultative Relations with UNESCO

News about the 2nd Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on African Musics

Last update: 12 March 2018

The Study Group on African Musics 2nd Symposium will be hosted by the Department of Music in the School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana, Legon August 9th – 12th 2018.

We thank the Symposium Program Chair Prof. Daniel Avorgbedor for his tireless efforts over the past year.  He has worked hand in hand with a representative committee including George Dor, Sylvie LeBomin, Birgitta Johnson and Patricia Opondo.  Visit the following websites to download the full program and

The theme of the 2nd Symposium is African Music Scholarship in the Twenty-First Century: Challenges and Directions, and the subthemes are as follows:

  • African and Afro-Diasporic collaborations and exchanges
  • Representations on the Francophone presence in African music scholarship
  • Music Education: Philosophies, pedagogies of African music
  • Interdisciplinarity and African music historiographies in critical perspective
  • New analytical approaches to contemporary African art music traditions

Professor V. Kofi Agawu will deliver the Keynote Address and the title is “Appropriate Theory”

Focuses on:  Analytical and critical issues in selected repertories of West Africa and Western Europe.  His other interests include semiotics, chromaticism, music and language, and postcolonial theory.

Kofi Agawu was born in Ghana, where he received his initial education before studying composition and analysis in the UK and musicology in the US. He has taught at Haverford College, King’s College London, Cornell, Yale and Harvard; held visiting positions at the University of Hong Kong, Indiana University, University of Toronto, the University of Pavia, Cremona, and Oxford University; and lectured at numerous universities and conferences around the world. In 2012-13, he was appointed George Eastman Visiting Professor at Oxford University, becoming only the second music scholar to have held that position since its endowment in 1930. He has served on the editorial boards of leading journals in musicology, music theory, African music and ethnomusicology, and on several fellowship panels.  Agawu’s current research includes essays on rhythm and iconicity in African music, and further studies in topic theory.

The Symposium has attracted broad interest and the four days will include presentations by100 speakers, host two key concert nights, two workshops, a roundtable discussion on copyright and publishing as well as a special presentation by RILM.

Speakers will present their research that spans the following 19 African countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Malawi, Cape Verde, Guinea, Swaziland, Sierra Leone.  This is exciting as we are able to grow ICTM presence in more African countries as well as engage with speakers who focus on African Diasporic collaborations and exchanges in the following countries: Finland, Ecuador, Peru, Cuba, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Guyana, North America, Portugal.

RILM EVENTS – August 10th 8:30-10:00pm
Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie: RILM Editor-in-Chief’s presentation “RILM in 2018: New and Expanding Reference Resources for Music Researchers” will provide a general overview of the current RILM database including new design, future goals and scope.
Zdravko Blažeković:  RILM Executive Editor will speak on “RILM and African Music” Speaking on the scope, depth and interdisciplinary coverage and representation of African Music and Dance traditions with an emphasis on current challenges, uneven coverage of geo-cultural areas and genres, call for volunteer submissions and national representatives. He will also speak on the place of RILM in enhancing the scholarly study and publishing of African musics.
RECEPTION (hosted by RILM) Following their presentations, RILM will host a reception with refreshments and space for informal conversation pertaining to their two presentations. We thank Symposium Program Chair Prof. Avorgbedor for facilitating the RILM events.

SGAM Business Meeting – August 10th 7:30-8:30pm

All delegates are welcome to this.  Amongst the items to be discussed include ICTM membership; the need for Liaison Officers in countries without them. How to become more involved in the Study Group. The growth through regional branches. Future Publications. A formal agenda will be released in due course, and we will also welcome items that you’d like to be discussed.

SGAM Book Launch – August 10th

The Publications Subcommittee has been working tirelessly to get the inaugural publication ready with an anticipated Book Launch after the RILM Reception.  We will provide an update when we distribute the Business Meeting agenda in July. We once again are indebted to the tireless efforts of SGAM Publications Coordinator Elina Seye.



The Institute of African Studies of the University of Ghana created the Ghana Dance Ensemble in 1962. From its inception, the Ensemble was to be Ghana's flagship for the professional, world-wide promotion of the music and dance heritage of Ghana under girded by solid field work and experimental research.

The Ghana Dance Ensemble has a tradition of identifying young, talented artistes with mastery of particular dance forms from different parts of the country and training them to express a dazzling variety of dances. Many of these dancers have gone on to set up their own companies or worked with companies all over the world.

The current Ghana Dance Ensemble in the hands of Mr Ben Obido Ayettey maintains the discipline of the early classics but continues to expand its repertoire and to explore dance as an expression of contemporary issues.


Abibigromma reflects a commitment to the creation of modern African Theatre that draws from and feeds upon the accumulated resources and heritage of oral and written performance literature of the continent of Africa. Abibigromma has traveled extensively in Africa and Europe to portray Ghana’s rich cultural heritage at international festivals, conferences and fairs promoting cultural co-operation for development between Ghana and the world at large.  The director is Dr. Hilarius Wuaku


The Department of Music’s Pop ensemble, directed by Mr. Kofi Kudonu and assisted by a national service person, provides a venue for qualified student musicians to perform popular music in a 14-member band. The group has a repertoire ranging from highlife classics to contemporary styles from around the world and original compositions.


A spin off of the Department of Music Pop Ensemble performs Highlife pieces and other pieces related to Palm wine music. It is under the able leadership of Mr. Eric Sunu Doe and have student membership of six.


Will lead a workshop on “Teaching Traditional Ghanaian Music: An Interactive and Interdisciplinary Approach”


Will lead an interactive contemporary African dance workshop titled: “Moving Bodies: African Art in Motion”


Message from the Local Arrangements Committee

The Local Arrangements Committee members are Adwoa Arhine, Hilarius Wuaku, Eric Sunu Doe and Michael Ohene-Okantah Jnr chaired by the Head of Department of Music, Dr. Joshua Amuah.


AKWAABA, an expression you will hear several times as you experience Accra and other parts of the country. Welcome to the vibrant and cosmopolitan city of Accra, the nation’s capital and an interesting city of contrasts where the old blends with the new and where tradition blends with foreign cultures. Situated on the shores of the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) and almost on the Greenwich Meridian, Accra is haven that combines the charms of a tropical beach idyll with a fascinating historical heritage, rich cultural variety, and some interesting wildlife. The city provides visitor a unique taste of experiences from every aspects of the Ghanaian culture as a result of its cosmopolitan nature. Several leisure and entertainment actives will capture your heart forever. Places of interest you might want to visit include Centre for National Culture (Arts Centre), National Museum, Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park, WEB Du Bois Centre for Pan-African Culture, Osu Castle etc. The University of Ghana Legon campus itself houses interesting historical, architectural, botanical, and unique research sites such as the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research [].  During the lunch-time period there will be on campus tours to visit the following: Nketia Archive with demonstration by the archivist; Permanent exhibition of Akan Goldweights and Photo-history of early University of Ghana, Legon at the Institute of African Studies; Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research. For others, visit

  • Currency / Exchange Rates*

1 Euro = GHc 5.42

1 USD = GHc 4.53

*The exchange rate fluctuates so update before making any transaction ( )

  • Conference registration fees**

International delegates            $100

Local delegate                        GHc 80

**Students will be offered 50% discounted registration fee

Registration fees include the cost of Symposium materials, coffee breaks and lunch

  • Travel information:

Entry requirements and visa information are available from consular offices and on the Symposium websites

  • Arrival

Delegates are advised to plan for Kotoka International Airport (KIA, airport code is ACC) in Accra to be their arrival and departure destination. Taxi services are available at the arrival section of the airport to accommodation (duration, 15 – 30 minutes depending on traffic situation). Taxi to accommodation cost approximately GHc 20-40 per trip.

Local transportation – the Department of Music is housed in the School of Performing Arts, which is located next to the old main entrance of the university. (Direct drivers/taxis to find this entrance by mentioning “opposite the Legon Police Station”) The venue of the symposium is within walking distance (10-15 minutes) from accommodation on campus. However there are campus taxi services (GHc 5-8 per trip). Taxi service from hotels around campus cost approximately GHc 10-20 per trip depending on the distance.

  • Accommodation

Delegates can stay on or around the university campus. Delegates are responsible for securing their own accommodation for the symposium.  Refer to the Symposium webpages for a wide range of recommended accommodation options