Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Austin Okigbo

Second Advisor

Kira Hall

Third Advisor

Carlo Caballero

Fourth Advisor

Brenda Romero

Fifth Advisor

Jay Keister


Ghanaian choral music emerged from the colonial experience through a process of musical hybridity and became relevant in the post-independent state of Ghana. This dissertation begins by exploring how two distinct musical forms developed from within the Methodist and Presbyterian missions in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These musical forms utilized both European hymn harmony and local musical features. The institutional histories and structures of these missions explain the significance of this hybridity and distinct characteristics of the forms. These local-language choral works spread through these institutions despite the attempts of people in leadership positions to keep local culture separate from Christian schools and churches. The fourth chapter explores the broader social impact of the choral tradition that emerged from the Presbyterian mission, and its implications for the national independence movement through the history of one choral work composed by 1929 by Ephraim Amu. Then, based on a case study of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation and its workplace choir, I examine how intellectual leaders such as Kwabena Nketia have, in the context of the post-independent state of Ghana, promoted choral music as an aspect of national development and unity. Ethnographic work at the GBC reveals the sometimes contentious negotiations that are involved in this process. This dissertation is based on both ethnographic and archival research conducted during three research trips to Ghana from 2012 to 2015. This research reveals how Ghanaians have challenged colonial ideology through composing and performing choral music. Peircian semiotics and postcolonial theory provides a framework for exploring how the hybridity of choral music in Ghana has contributed to the development of postcolonial consciousness there.