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date: 22 September 2019

Atentebenlocked

  • Gavin Webb

Extract

Bamboo duct flute of Ghana. Its name derives from the roots atente (the type of music played) and aben (Twi: ‘whistle’ or ‘horn’). The famous Ghanaian composer and teacher Ephraim Amu developed the modern atenteben in the mid-1940s, particularly by changing it from a transverse flute capable of playing only five notes to an end-blown vertical flute with a wooden block forming a duct just below a node. He added two fingerholes (making six fingerholes and one thumbhole) to facilitate playing a two-octave diatonic scale. The modern instrument, pitched in B♭ or C, is 40 or 35 cm long. In the late 1970s and early 1980s Nana Danso Abiam, director of the Pan African Orchestra, and Henaku-Pobi, former atenteben instructor at the University of Ghana, developed techniques to increase the melodic range of the instrument and perform chromatic scales in any key through cross-fingering, half-holing, and overblowing to achieve harmonics. The ...

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