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IAS Audiovisual Archives Overview

The Institute of African Studies (I.A.S) Audio Visual Archive represents both the I.A.S Audio Visual unit and the ICAMD audio visual archive. The collections held at the IAS Audio Visual Archive are perhaps some of the most valuable assets of Ghanaian traditions in the world and represent a tremendous resource at the Institute and the University of Ghana as crucial documents of the human record.
The archive was established with the aim of serving the needs of scholars, researchers, and artists by collecting and producing audiovisual documentation on Ghana's unique dance and music traditions. Documented materials in this archive are deposited on formats such as: Reel to reel (1/4"), Shellacs (78, 45 and 33rpm), Digital Audio Tape (DAT), Audio Cassettes, Compact Discs (CD), Betacam, U-matic, VHS, Hi-8, Video 8, Mini-DV and micro cassettes.

The crown jewels of the ICAMD collection are the original recordings of Prof Nketia and his colleagues (i.e when he was a research fellow at the Sociology Department and later the Institute of African studies), which date to the early 1950s (prior to Ghana's independence in 1957). These recordings document the music and dance traditions from around the country at a very unique time period. From the 1950s through the 1970s, Prof. Nketia and other ethnomusicologists gained the trust of the local people and repeatedly documented stories, songs, dances and other oral and performance traditions. The recordings represent an invaluable snapshot of Ghanaian and African heritage, which can offer researchers, musicians, performers, artists and students an unparalleled glimpse into the traditions and practices that were passed down orally for generations.

A few examples of notable content that can be found in this collection are: Numerous examples of Anansesԑm, mmoguo, Odurugya music (unique music performed at the court of the Asantehene), Fontomfrom music, rare recordings from Konkomba, Mamprusi, Frafra, Dagarti and Kasena tribes; funeral dirges Occupational songs, hunters songs, witches songs, storytelling, Possession music, Cult music, music performed during initiation rights, old highlife music, Old brass band music, folk and traditional music from outside the borders of Ghana and even outside Africa (very rare recordings) etc. It is important to note that these art forms bear little resemblance today to how it did when the recordings were made.