Joseph Hanson Kwabena Nketia, the legendary Ghanaian ethnomusicologist and composer, has reportedly died at 97, at the Legon hospital in Accra.
Considered Africa’s premier musicologist, he was widely acknowledged as the most published and best known authority on African music and aesthetics in the world, with more than 200 publications and 80 musical compositions to his credit.
The, innovator of 6/8 time signature for African rhythm, was born on June 22, 1921, in the Ashanti Region Town of Mampong.
He received his education in prestigious institutions across the world, including the University of London, Birkbeck College, the Trinity School of Music and the famous Julliard School, where he studied Musicology and Composition.
He was a professor of music at UCLA and the University of Pittsburgh in the United States of America. He also lectured there at Harvard University, Stanford as well as the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing. He was also an emeritus professor at the University of Ghana.
Prof. Nketia’s concept and interpretation of African rhythm is deemed influential in academia and performance around the world.
“His innovation of 6/8 time was widely used by scholars to transcribe African music, whereas composers active in the country almost exclusively write in this time signature,” according to experts in his field.
He received several awards, including the Companion of the Order of the Star of Ghana, the Grand Medal of the Government of Ghana (Civil Division) and the IMC-UNESCO Prize for Distinguished Service to Music.
The Nketia Music Foundation was established in 2009, “to promote the conservation and development of Ghana’s Creative Legacy in contemporary contexts, and the use of his works and that of other composers for the development and growth of music and culture”.
Some of his works are Volta Fantasy, Voice of the Forest, Acadia and Adams Kontron.
His outstanding stature and influence was highly esteemed across generations.