The Introduction of Popular Music Studies to Ghanaian Universities <br>


  • John Collins Achimota College - University of Ghana; BAPMAF



University of Ghana, African popular music, music courses, job opportunities, world music, highlife music


Although the teaching if of African traditional and art music in Ghanaian universities began from independence in 1957, the introduction of local popular music has taken much longer, partly a consequence of imported high-art notion that treated popular music as trivial, ephemeral and low-brow. Although Nkrumah utilised local popular, traditional and arts music in nation building after his overthrow in 1966 his vision was never fully transmitted into the universities where students were only expected to be bi-musical, i.e. familiar with traditional music and art music. The first evidence of a growing Ghanaian academic interest in popular performance studies was the pioneering work of the university lecturers Efua Sutherland, K.N. Bame and Attana Mensah during the 1960s/70s. But this area was not included in the university curriculum until the 1990s, when the University of Ghana changed its position due to several factors. One was the burgeoning local popular music industry (after the music industry decline during the 70s/80s military regimes) and the consequent job opportunities for students. Another was the rise of pop influenced local gospel music from the 1980s that sanctified the guitar and dance-band music. Thirdly there was an interest in Afropop by foreign world music students coming in large numbers after Ghana’s economic liberalisation of the late 1980’s.

Author Biography

John Collins, Achimota College - University of Ghana; BAPMAF

John Collins, a founding member of IASPM, has been a pioneer scholar in the world of African Popular Music studies.


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