Simple practical pianistic structures and motifs that exemplify Africanity are manifested in my works included in this book. I intentionally call it African Pianism not as a statement of rhetoric; but as title noting that the essence of African culture has permeated the world in unique artistic expressions and interpretations.
The collections presented in African Pianism further articulate what African Studies, African American Studies, Africana Studies, and ultimately Africology seeks to achieve. In my view, the consciousness that drives Africology is a phenomenon that at best demands for the validity, acceptance, preservation, promotion, and recognition of Africans as humans – subjects and not objects (Asante 1999), and also whose alignments with Divinity are echoed by nature. By Africology, I mean the interdisciplinary academic discipline that studies the history, arts and culture of African people around the world.
Most piano pieces in our institutions of higher learning and churches in Ghana are by Western composers. It has been so for many decades and admittedly so since the arrival of the pianoforte on the shores of Africa. Over the years, the Non-Western cultures that embraced the piano have been faced with the standard repertoire of Western classics and desire for Non-Western (African) classics that could also be nurtured and developed through the lenses of African focus. While some Western-trained African musicians wrestle with Validating African Centered Pedagogy, the little practice of its evolvement within and outside academia has proven its relevance. For instance in the late 1970s when I was a student at Presbyterian Boys Secondary School – Legon, my music teacher Mr. Nathan Bampoe Damptey played both Western classical pieces and African Pianism. This intrigued me. Also, at Achimota School, Mr. Kenneth Kafui Avotri did a similar thing, particularly with pedagogical pieces. Both music masters took interest in my unique passion in music then as a student. Their interest in my work continued during my years of study. Quite recently in 2017/18, they celebrated my works.
Though the impact of some of our African centered musicians are obviously making strides, a coded attitude still vibrates through Ghana’s academia that needs to be confronted. This attitude regards the lack of validation of African Pianism as a practice in our music departments. It saddens me and reminds me of a question the late Prof. Nketia once asked me. “What are you doing besides performing Africa centered piano works’’? Functionality was good, but I must also document and mentor others. He drew my attention to how Dr. Ephraim Amu, Dr. N. Z. Nayo, Dr Aikim Euba, Hugh Masekela and others who fought so hard over decades to showcase the African creative contributions to the world.
While Western classical pieces have had positive impact in many ways on the landscape of music departments of our Universities, they should not be the ones used as an exclusive yardstick in determining who is a good pianist or organist in our society. It is no secret that ‘Africanizing’ Western melodies will raise eyebrows in even traditional Ghanaian settings as well as in Ghana’s academic circles. Likewise, it must be noted that the practice will remain in some circles as an Art.
Cultural orientations and its applications must be of progressive proficiency levels when crafting songs for the promotion of Art Music as a contribution to global piano literacy. This is why there are many thought reflective and provoking questions that confirm my understanding that education must by necessity propel me to be useful to my environment and my existence. African Pianism: A contribution to Africology Volume I, is not only for the corridors of Academia. It is a friendly invitation to all who desire to get a feel of bi-musicality through the lenses of a Ghanaian on a distinct musical journey.
Mr Victor Nii Sowa Manieson is a Music Educationist by profession and has taught all academic levels in Ghana and USA. He is a product of the former National Academy of Music (now the music department of University of Education, Winneba), San Diego State University, United States International University (San Diego Campus), and Clark Atlanta University where he took some doctoral classes in humanities. Mr. Manieson’s teaching preference is grounded in facilitating understanding to all learners. Most recently, Lincoln Community School in Ghana for 9 years (An American IB school) and also as an Adjunct lecturer from the University of Education, Winneba (2010-2013). He is married to Doreen Mansa Manieson, they have two children. They are the founders of Manieson Christian Academy.
Adawora Fantasy – 1
Transition : Adawora – Aharabata – 11
Aharabata Variations – 13
Afrikoko – 20
And my Conscience Speaketh – 24
Senyorita – 34
My Solicitude for Being – 38
Together in Spirit – 44
Voices of Our Ancestors – 47
Baba Oluwa – sha anu fun wa – 57
Supplication for Yorubaland – 66