My research centres on the music of Ghana in West Africa, with a particular interest in the Dagara people of Upper West Region who live around Nandom. I am interested in the musical constructions, the social and cultural context, the rapid changes through technology, and children as a nexus of many of these issues in society and education. A video of children in Nandom playing a traditional game, Gago can be accessed at the bottom of this page. 

A list of my publications and current research activities is below. My co-edited/authored volume (with Prof. Patricia Shehan Campbell), The Oxford Handbook of Children's Musical Cultures will be published in the USA on November 15th 2012 and in the UK of January 31st 2013. 

Please get in touch to discuss issues of mutual interest or to enquire about lectures/seminars etc.

Research Activities

World Music/World Music in education. Ethnomusicology specialising in West Africa, especially Ghana. Field Research in Ghana/Burkina Faso 1988–9, 1994–5, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2006 (including recording previously undocumented Dagara music in Cape Coast at the request of the British Library Sound Archive and the International Centre for African Music and Dance (Ghana),

As from September 2011, I have been appointed co-Editor of the Ethnomusicology Forum (with Simone Kruger) published by Routledge and a Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University.

I am also a Reader/Reviewer for Popular Music & Society, Music Education Research and World of Music and an Editorial Board member for the International Journal of Community Music.


Main Publications

Xylophone music from Ghana Redcliffe Edition: London (1990)

Xylophone music from Ghana White Cliffs Media Co: Crown Point (1992) (Book + CD)

Music of West Africa WOMAD/Heinemann: London (1993)

‘The world of music in education’ in British Journal of Music Education Vol 13 (1996) pp.21–9

‘Bewaare—they are coming’ Dagaare songs and dances from Nandom, Ghana PAN RECORDS 2052CD (1996) (Reviewed by Marie-Laure Manigand in  “British Journal of Ethnomusicology” Vol.5 (1996) pp. 180–1, and by Roger Blench in “Songlines” Spring 1999 pp.51–2. Cited in Groves dictionary (2000), entry for ‘Ghana’ 9:799.)

‘Globalisation. L’Afrique occidentale dans le monde ou le monde en Afrique occidentale.’ in Cahiers de Musiques Traditionelles  9/1996. Geneva: AIMP pp.189–200

‘Teaching Culture; Thoughts from northern Ghana’ in British Journal of Music Education Vol 15:2, 201–209 (1998)

Western Sisaala music from Lambussie, Ghana ‘In the time of my fourth great-grandfather…’ PAN RECORDS 2065CD (1998) (Reviewed by Roger Blench in “Songlines” Spring 1999 pp.51–2, and by Oforiwaa Ama Konadu Aduonum in “Yearbook For Traditional Music” 2000 p.228. Cited in Groves dictionary (2000), entry for ‘Ghana’ 9:799.)

 ‘Drumming in Ghana’ in Composing the Music of Africa: Composition, Interpretation and Realisation. Ed. Floyd. Ashgate, Aldershot (1999) pp.45–65

‘The Xylophone Tradition of North-West Ghana’ in Composing the Music of Africa: Composition, Interpretation and Realisation. Ed. Floyd. Ashgate, Aldershot (1999) pp.67–89

 ‘Techniques of Variation and Concepts of Musical Understanding in Northern Ghana’ in British Journal of Ethnomusicology (1998) pp.123–146. Cited in Groves dictionary (2000), entry for ‘Ghana’ 9:799.

CD Ghana, Cape Coast: Changing Traditions. AIMP/VDE-Gallo (VDE CD-1135) 2003

‘Gérer le passage de la tradition à la modernité: Entretien avec JHK Nketia’ in Cahiers de Musiques Traditionelles 17/2004. Geneva: Georg Editeur, pp.315–337             

‘An Interview with J.H. Kwabena Nketia: Perspectives on Tradition and Modernity’ in Ethnomusicology Forum Vol 14, No. 1 June 2005, pp.55–79

‘Cultivating Shadows in the Field: Challenges for Traditions in Institutional Contexts’ in Cultural Diversity in Music: Directions and challenges for the 21st century. Eds: Campbell, Drummond, Dunbar-Hall, Howard, Schippers, Wiggins. Brisbane: Australian Academic Press, 2005. pp.13–21.

Le ‘musiche del mondo’ nel sistema d’insegnamento occidentale” in Nattiez, J.J (Ed) Enciclopedia della musica, Vol. 5 L’unita della musica. Torino, Italy: Einaudi, 2005 pp. 242–256. Also published in French as Musiques—Une encyclopédie pour le XXIe siècle—T5 L'Unité de la musique. Arles/Paris, Actes Sud, 2007

African Drumming Workshop: Kpatsa from Ghana (CDROM) Rainbow Disks (2007)

African Drumming Workshop: Ageshe from Ghana (CDROM) Rainbow Disks (2007)

‘Counterpoint and Interlock’ in Living in Worlds of Music: a View of Education and Values. Ed. Minette Mans Dordrecht: Springer, 2009 pp. 76–9

‘Music Research in Northern Ghana: (Colonial) Mis-hearings and (European) misconceptions’ in Reading in Ethnomusicology: A Collection of Papers presented at Ethnomusicology Symposium 2010. Eds. Strumpf & Sanger, Dar es Salaam, Dept of Fine & Performing Arts, University of Dar es Salaam, 2010 pp. 75–86.

‘Personal, Local and National Identities in Ghanaian Performance Ensembles’ in Teaching, Learning, and Musical Identity: Voices across Cultures. Ed. Lucy Green. Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2011 pp. 170–183.

‘Tuning Xylophones: Dagara Instruments in the town of Nandom, north-west Ghana’ Journal of Performing Arts. Vol: 4/2 2011 University of Ghana: pp. 235–249.


Current projects:-

  1. The Oxford Handbook of Children’s Music Cultures Joint Editors: Trevor Wiggins, SOAS (UK), Patricia Shehan Campbell, University of Washington (USA). Contracted by OUP for publication in 2012/13
  2. Article submitted to Muziki about the role of music in the creation of cultural identity in northern Ghana (9000 words)
  3. Invited to be one of 12 writers of case studies for the Sustainable Futures project (funded by Australian Research Council).

4.      Book about the recreational music of the Dagara people of Northern Ghana (working with Dr Sebastian Bemile for the linguistic aspects).


Conference Papers delivered

‘The Naa Polkuu effect—Musical change in northern Ghana’ at ESEM Conference 1995

Organiser and director of Cultural Diversity in Music Education conference at Dartington College of Arts, 15–18 May 1997

 ‘Promoting Musical Change or Reducing Diversity?’ at Cultural Diversity in Music Education, Malmö, 15–18 April 1999

‘Ethnomusicology and Music Education: Tradition, Transmission, Change and Innovation in West Africa and Europe.’ at Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice. Conference on Applied Ethnomusicology. February 1–3, 2003.

‘Cultivating Shadows in the Field: Challenges for Traditions in Institutional Contexts’. Keynote address at Cultural Diversity in Music Education (7) at Griffith University, Brisbane 10–13 November 2005.

‘Western Musical Concepts and African Music’ at Institute for Musical Research, University of London 21st February 2008

‘What makes YOU a musician?’ at Cultural Diversity in Music Education (9), University of Washington, Seattle, 20–23 March 2008

Session organiser + paper delivered: Society for Ethnomusicology 53rd Annual Conference, 25–28 Oct 2008 at Wesleyan University, ‘Cultural Variations? Case Studies of “Overlooked” Musical Traditions from Ghana.’

‘Musical Traditions: Transformations or Overlapping Generations’ at BFE conference, Liverpool John Moores University, April 2009

‘Intercultural Music Education’ Keynote address at Music Orality Roots Europe Paris 3–4th December 2009

‘Music Research in Northern Ghana: (Colonial) Mis-hearings and (European) misconceptions.’ Keynote address delivered at the Ethnomusicology Symposium, Dar es Salaam 23 July 2010.

Organised session ‘Sound Ecologies and Sustainable Futures: Children re-shaping traditions’ and individual paper, ‘Changing Sound Ecologies: Children in northern Ghana' delivered at SEM conference at UCLA, November 11–14, 2010.

Organiser and director of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology annual conference (2011) at Tremough, UCF. Theme: Mediation, Writing and Performance

‘Building a Ghanaian National Identity through the Arts’ at Festschrift in honour of Emeritus Professor J. H. Kwabena Nketia, Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, 23rd–24th September, 2011

Other Publications

‘Into Africa’ in Music Teacher (July 1989)

‘I Got Rhythm’ in Music Teacher (May 1990)

‘Take Five’ in Music Teacher (February 1991)

‘The Sunday Shuffle’ in Music Teacher (July 1991)

 ‘Philosophies and Practicalities: world musics in education and the role of the teacher.’ in Teaching World Music Utrecht: VKV (1992) pp. 17–26.

‘A response to some of the points raised’ in Teaching Musics of the World, Second International Symposium, Eds. Leith-Philip & Gutzwiller, Philip Verlag, Affalterbach, 1995. pp. 82–3.

‘If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly’ in Teaching Musics of the World, Second International Symposium, Eds. Leith-Philip & Gutzwiller, Philip Verlag, Affalterbach, 1995. pp. 193–6

‘It goes like this . . .’ in Rotterdam World Music Festival programme 1995. pp 28–9

‘“And for next week, I want you to . . .”: learning world musics’ in Teaching World Musics, Music Teacher, London, November 1997. pp 31–3.

Review of World Sound Matters by Jonathan Stock in World of Music, Vol 40/1 (1998)

Book review of The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Volume 1—Africa in Music Teacher, September 1999, p.53

Review of CD Music of the Wè in Songlines, Spring 1999 p.52

Review of CDs More tribal, folk and café Music of West Africa and Orishas across the ocean in Gramophone, February 1999 p.107

Review of CD New Ancient Strings in Songlines, Spring 1999 p.46

Review of CDs Akom: the Art of Possession and Soungalo Coulibaly: Dengo in British Journal of Ethnomusicology Vol:10/2 2001 pp132–4

“Music and Context” in Making Music Work. FDTL Professional Integration Project, London, January 2000. pp. 85–101.

Updated entry for “Burkina Faso” in New Grove Dictionary of Music Ed. Sadie, New York & London, Macmillan, 2001