Document Type

Honors Project

Abstract

In this honors thesis, I examine the ways in which Ghanaian highlife, a 20th century hybrid popular music style, is in dialogue with Ghana’s own traditional music and culture, what scholar John Collins describes as a “continuity with traditional life.” Arguing against conceptions of highlife music as “simplified” or “pidgin,” I suggest that there is a fluid relationship between Ghana’s traditional music and its highlife. The socio-cultural/musical elements of traditional music appear in highlife through indigenous instruments, melodies, rhythms, storytelling forms, and other thematic material. At once, traditional music exists as a resource from which popular musicians may strategically draw inspiration.

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