Geographic Region: Africa
Country of origin: Ghana
Climatic type: Mainly tropical
Definition: Relatively low-pitched, single-headed, wood drum
SvH No.: 211.22
The sogo is third in size, behind the gboba and the atsimevu (the lead drum, in the Eve ensemble. It is constructed of wood, either as one solid carved piece or, as is more common in recent times, of wooden slats bound by metal rings. The wood used for the barrel drums, a light mahogany native to West Africa, is known as logo in Eve. (Galeota 1985: 59) The drum is approximately two feet tall and the diameter of the head is between eight and one half and nine inches.(Pantaleoni 1971: 54) The middle the drum expands to 15 inches. (Ladzekpo) A circular wooden disc with a one inch hole in the center covers the bottom of the sogo, allowing depressurization of the shell and water inside for wet tuning. (Galeota 1972:54)
The sogo is named for the its resemblance to the gourd used in sacrificial offerings to the Eve thunder deity, So. (Ladzekpo) Modern construction of this drum and others like it is similar to the construction of wooden barrels. In the past, these drums were carved from solid tree trunks. This still happens at times but the scarcity of large enough trees for this purpose makes it more efficient to use wooden slats bound by metal rings. (Pantaleoni 1971: 46) Early drums of this type were actually made from used commercial barrels. Laurance Mensaga Nutakor, a drum maker from Abor, born 1911, is reputed to be the first to make a barrel drum from raw materials. (Galeota 1985: 30)
The sogo is tuned low in relation to the ensemble, only the atsimevu is lower. Proper tuning is achieved one of two ways. In dry conditions, the drum is sometimes turned upside down and filled with water, allowing the planks to absorb the moisture. The expansion of the wood tightens the pegs in their sockets, thus pulling the drum head taut. (Galeota 1985: 03) A more common technique is to drive the wooden pegs farther into their sockets, achieving the same purpose.
When playing a leading role in the ensemble, the technique applied to the sogo is similar to that of the atsimevu. Sound is created by striking the drum with the full hand, a stick, the fingers, or combinations of the above. (Ladzekpo) Additional sounds are produced by damping the membrane to affect resonance and striking differing positions on the drum head. (Ladzekpo) When used as a supporting drum, the sogo is usually played with two sticks. The tones produced are commonly referred to as de and ge (rebounding strokes), and ku and tu (strokes pressed firmly into the drum head). (Ladzekpo) When playing a supporting role, the sogo either plays a cyclical ostinato pattern or engages in a dialogue with the lead drum. (Galeota 1985: 09)
The music of the Eve drum ensemble is transmitted almost exclusively aurally. The vocables, however, are similar to notation in that they serve as a tool for learning and remembering rhythms and patterns.
The sogo most often plays a supporting role in the drum ensemble of the Eve, carrying on dialogue with the leading drum and contributing to the polyrhythmic structure of the music. (Galeota 1985: 09) When in the leading role, it functions like the atsimevu, signaling dance movements and interacting musically with the supporting drums. The Eve live between the Volta and Mono rivers in West Africa, in what is now Ghana and Togo. (Locke 1979: 01) The Eve have migrated to this aerea from Benin and Western Nigeria since the 16th century. (Locke 1979:01)
Galeota, Joseph. 1985. "Drum Making Among the Southern Eve People of Ghana and Togo." M.A. thesis, Wesleyan University.
Last Modified: 18-Feb-2009TOP