Bima Frafra is a form of recreational music that is deeply rooted in the culture of the Frafra people, who reside in northern Ghana. It is often performed by the youth during social gatherings or in prominent locations like the community’s market square. Additionally, it is sometimes played during funerals of members associated with Bima Frafra groups, although this practice may not be commonly observed. Another name for this music and dance style among the Frafra people is Akampa.
The music of Bima Frafra relies on two main types of drums. The first drum is called the donno, which is a unique double-headed, hourglass-shaped drum. It is played by holding it under one arm and striking it with a curved wooden stick. The donno drum features leather or gut strings that are attached to both drumheads. By adjusting the tension of these strings with the arm and fingers, the player can alter the pitch of the drum.
The donno produces various pitches and pitch inflections, but the fundamental patterns in Bima Frafra typically consist of high, low, and muted tones. Low tones are achieved by reducing the tension on the strings and drumheads, while high tones require increased tension. Mute strokes involve pressing the stick against the drumhead with high tension, resulting in a muffled resonance.
The second drum used in Bima Frafra is called the mpintintoa. This drum is circular and bowl-shaped, made from a lightweight hollow gourd with a single membrane stretched across the upper opening. It produces a low tone and is played using the hands. Similar to the donno, the mpintintoa drum has basic patterns consisting of mute and open tones. Mutes are created by applying hand pressure on the drumhead during the stroke, producing muffled sounds. On the other hand, open tones are produced by withdrawing the hand upon contact, resulting in less resonant and muffled sounds.
Bima Frafra music showcases the rich musical heritage of the Frafra people, serving as a vital part of their cultural expression and community gatherings. The combination of the donno and mpintintoa drums creates a rhythmic and melodic foundation for the music, allowing for engaging performances and vibrant celebrations.