Fiddling in West Africa

Fiddling in West Africa

Touching the Spirit in Fulbe, Hausa, and Dagbamba Cultures
Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje
Distribution: World
Publication date: 02/05/2008
Format: Paperback 53 b&w illus., 10 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-21929-9
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Winner, 2009 Alan Merriam Prize (Society for Ethnomusicology)Winner, Nketia Book Prize, Society for Ethnomusicology

Fiddling has had a lengthy history in Africa which has long been ignored. Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje corrects this oversight with an expansive study on fiddling in the Fulbe, Hausa, and Dagbamba cultures of West Africa. DjeDje not only explains the history of the instrument itself, but also discusses the processes of stylistic transference and adaptation, suggesting how these may have contributed to differing performance practices. Additionally, DjeDje delves into the music, the performance context, the musicians behind the fiddle, the meaning of the instrument, and its use in these three cultures. This detailed work helps the reader understand and appreciate three little-known musical cultures in West Africa and the fiddle's influence upon them.

Author Bio

Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje is Professor and Chair of Ethnomusicology and former Director of the Ethnomusicology Archive at the University of California, Los Angeles.


“This broad comparative approach synthesizing several decades of research is groundbreaking in both ethnomusicology and African studies, and the author has the expertise and authority to accomplish such a difficult project.”
 — Eric Charry, Wesleyan University

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Table of Contents


Introduction: A Master Fiddler and a Significant but Little-Known Tradition
1. Fiddling in West Africa: Understanding the Culture Area
2. An Affirmation of Identity: Fulbe Fiddling in Senegambia
3. Calling the Bori Spirits: Hausa Fiddling in Nigeria
4. In Service to the King: Dagbamba Fiddling in Ghana

Appendix: Distribution of the One-Stringed Fiddle
List of References
Discography and Videography