Ray Pereira and
Nii Tettey Tetteh
I first met Tettey on a visit to Ghana in 1994. He had just returned from a tour of Benin and I studied with him and his group learning the traditional rhythms of the Ga people. After the lessons we used to hang out together chatting about music, rhythms, and the world. We realised that we both had more than just a common interest in drumming, we were also interested in researching the origins of traditional music, its history, the culture and social context which gave birth to this music.
We then began to source out the origins of some of the music and rhythms we were playing and also how these rhythms had changed over time.
We met people like Otto Lincoln who is credited as being the inventor of the Kpanlogo dance and we travelled to the country villages to talk to some of the old master drummers. During our research we realised that a lot of traditional music forms were being forgotten and were being replaced by outside influences, which were also eroding tradition cultural practises.
While I was studying with Tettey he was also developing an understanding of how to explain some of the more complex aspects of the rhythms to someone from outside his culture. This knowledge was something that he and other traditional drummers in Africa have taken for granted because they grow up with music - they had no need to analyse the rhythms, how they were played, the point of entry of the different support drums etc.
My questions and inquiries in this regard led to Tettey and I developing a teaching style that enabled us to be able to explain to drumming students from outside the culture how the complex poly rhythms and multiple parts of a rhythm are pieced together. This led us to consider the possibility of bringing students of mine from Australia and elsewhere to study in Ghana with him and his group. Four years later the first Kusun study tour was organised and 22 students from Australia accompanied me. In 1999 we opened the Kusun study centre.
Since their initial meeting in Accra, Ray and Tettey have collaborated on a number of successful projects. Tettey is currently touring the US with The Kusun Ensemble and Ray is currently involved in a number of recording projects, teaching and live performances.
You can visit Tettey in Ghana or try something easier and visit his website at http://www.ghanadrumschool.com