kete dawuro

Also:       dawuta      ndaawa      atoke      nono      

Title: Anomabu-Omanhene’s Funeral. Label: Vetter field recording, 29/5/1993. Format: Hi8. Catalogue #: VC-10.

Contextual Associations

The kete dawuro (‘kete bell’) is a struck bell idiophone used in the royal kete ensemble of the Akan peoples of southern Ghana. Morphologically similar bells are also found in a number of ensembles of the Ewe and the Ga peoples of southern Ghana who call it atoke and nono, respectively.


The shape of this iron bell is quite unique. Its elongated form might be seen as trough or tubular shaped, or even like a banana with a longitudinal slit. Because the lips or rims of the slit are the active acoustical segment of the instrument, classifiers think of it as a bell even though it does not have the classical bell shape. The beater is an iron rod.

Player - Instrument Interface and Sound Production

The player of this bell rests the rounded backside of the instrument in his left palm and strikes on of its rims with the iron rod, which is held in the right hand. Two sound qualities are produced: one ringing (produced by a bounce-like beater stroke) and the other damped (produced by a stroke with no rebound). The ringing sound in particular is loud, crisp, and penetrating, making it clearly audible even when being played with a number of robust sounding drums. Short, distinctive, iterative rhythmic patterns played on the kete dawuro provide a timeline around which all the other kete ensemble musicians coordinate their rhythmic patterns to produce the multilayered polyrhythmic texture characteristic of kete music.


The kete dawuro differs in its form from bells (dawuro) used in other Akan music making. What this difference might signify is not known.

Bibliographic Citations

Koetting, James T. 1984. “Africa/Ghana.” In Worlds of Music ed. Jeff Todd Titon. New York: Schirmer Books, pp. 64-104.

Nketia, J. H. 1963. Drumming in Akan Communities of Ghana. Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson and Sons LTD.

Younge, Paschal Yao. 1992. Musical Traditions of Ghana, v.1. 2nd ed. Legon, Ghana: University of Ghana.

________, and Maria Billings. 2000. Ghana: Rhythms of the People. CD and liner notes. Multicultural Media MCM3018.


Instrument Information


Continent: Africa

Region: West Africa

Nation: Ghana

Formation: Akan

Classification (Sachs-Von Hornbostel revised by MIMO)

111.242.11 idiophone--individual resting bell: the cup is placed on the palm of the hand or on a cushion; its mouth faces upwards

Design and Playing Features

Category: idiophone

Energy input motion by performer: hammering

Basic form of sonorous object/s for idiophone: tube - open ended with longitudinal opening in wall

Sound objects per instrument: one

Resonator design: sonorous object itself is a general resonating space

Number of players: one

Sounding principle: striking - direct

Sound exciting agent: beater/s - metal rod

Energy input motion by performer: hammering

Pitch of sound produced: indefinite pitch

Sound modification: none


12.9 in length

Primary Materials


Entry Author

Toby Austin, Roger Vetter