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date: 10 December 2019

Seperewa [seprewa]locked

  • Gavin Webb

Extract

[seprewa]

Bridge harp of the Akan and Ashanti people of Ghana. The name seperewa derives from the Akan terms se (‘talk’), pre (the word that describes the strumming motion from the thumb), and wa (‘small’). So seperewa roughly translates to ‘this small instrument that you strum speaks’. It has 6 (traditionally) to 14 strings, a wooden box resonator, and a skin soundtable. A gently curved wooden neck extends upwards from the front of the instrument away from the player. The tall bridge, notched or pierced with holes up both sides for the strings to pass through, stands vertically on the skin. The strings, nowadays often of nylon, are tied around the neck and extend to the tail. Textual sources date the instrument’s presence as far back as the late 17th century. Its tuning and hand positioning, with the strings for the left hand tuned to the first, third, and fifth degrees of the scale while the right-hand strings are tuned to the second, fourth, and sixth degrees, facilitates the modal harmonic progressions typical of Akan music. The instrument normally accompanies praise singing....

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