[RAC'12] - Ghana Campfire

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This is my submission for the 2012 "Represent a Country" audio competition in which I was representing Ghana. It's interesting that the winner of the 2011 RAC was actually Ghana as well and how significantly different my composition sounds to it.


It is New Years eve, and a group of Ghanaian people have gathered together with the other African tribes at night to celebrate and communicate through the one universal language. Music.


Firstly, where in Africa is Ghana?. Not too hard to find out when we have the power of the internet these days so here's the article: (http://en.wikipedia.org/
wiki/Ghana). Basically it is located in the west of Africa and is a very diverse land. It has 25 million people covering 79 different languages. The music is also very diverse varying from group to region.

The most significant or important element in my composition is the Balafon. This is an instrument native to Ghana that I was lucky enough to get my hands on for the recording. You can see what it looks like here: (http://tinyurl.com/7k57t 4a). The first thing you will notice is that it bears quite a resemblance to our glockenspiel or xylophone, however as they usually have metal keys and the Balafon is made predominately of wood it gives a much smoother tone (at least to me anyway). For an example of a guy playing a Balafon you can check out a video here: (http://tinyurl.com/76n6g uq). Such a lovely tone when it's built at high quality as the one that guy's playing.

The other instrument that is fairly reminiscent of African music culture is the chanting/humming in the background. The thinking behind this was that when we are at a party and music is playing you generally sing along so why not during this as well. Although the chanting in my piece may not be as elaborate as we have come to hear from Africa in such things in the Lion King or whatever it was still an influence. A pretty good video I managed to find: (http://tinyurl.com/72zxb 48)

Other instruments that include in the piece are: Ukulele, Banjo, Pots + Pans (kitchen cutlery), Bass Guitar, Vocals (chant). The majority of these instruments tend to be used in a folk session kind of atmosphere and for that reason I thought would be suitable for this composition.


Fortunately for me I study music technology in a college which is very well equipped with a Pro Tools HD set-up and a wide variety of high-end microphones. Here's a quick run-down of the microphone that was used on each instrument.

Ukelele = Rode NTK
Banjo (2) = SE Electronic
Shakers = AKG C 411
Kick = AKG D112
Pans = Shure OH
Hi-Hat - SM57
Balafon (2) = AKG 414

When the recording was complete, I exported the tracks so that I could bring them home and mix on the DAW that I'm most familiar with which is Ableton.

A screenshot of the session can be seen here: http://i.imgur.com/vnSDD.

Song Structure:

As the Africans and people from the southern hemisphere don't conform to our western ideologies of song-writing by which I mean "verse-chorus-verse-choru s" I decided to make the piece one continuous progression during which certain instruments took a moment to shine by playing a little solo.

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Nicely done securing the balafon and for using vocals! Unfortunately, I don't know much about Ghanain music or the local tribes there, so I can't comment on style except to say it sounded kinda like 12 bar blues. Make that a lot like 12 bar blues (which gives more form to the piece than you probably wanted). The good news is the blues extended from West African musical traditions, the bad news is I can't shake the feeling that this is just a jazz piece, with unique instrumentation.

Well done (especially recording/mastering), I enjoyed this track a lot!

Most excellent, very catchy and very well mixed though I would've thought a Ghanan submission would perhaps have some djembe, even if just for a small section, maybe just a little more variation? :) In any case an excellent track, look forward greatly to the finished version.

PeppersMoD responds:


I know what you mean about using a djembe or other African drums because that certainly would have sounded native, but the thing is in the beginning I had no idea what direction the piece was going to take and the fact that I had decided not to use any VST's and keep it all authentic meant I was limited to what I had available which fortunately included a Balafon (percussion native to West Africa/Ghana) which I thought would be enough to cover the country.

I also agree about a little more variation because it crossed my mind as well when mixing, but at the time of recording I was thinking to myself that the southern/western world doesn't actually follow our western world's ideology of a song being verse/chorus so I decided to make mine more of a session with the same chord progression throughout but with a few solos just to keep things lively.

Anyway cheers again and i'll be sure to leave some feedback on your more recent submission as soon as I get a chance.

Credits & Info


Waiting for 3 more votes

Mar 3, 2012
12:08 PM EST
File Info
2.7 MB
2 min 55 sec

Licensing Terms

Please contact me if you would like to use this in a project. We can discuss the details.