The Ghanaian musical scene of the late 1990‘s three main musical typologies: traditional, popular and art. Ghanaian traditional music is the type which is created and performed by ―simple agricultural communities sharing common ideas and beliefs, common customs and institutions, common folk tales and oral traditions. It is predominantly vocal, its text reflects the philosophy of life of the people and traditional music serves many socio-cultural functions, as expressed though funeral dirges, work songs, lullabies, war songs and dances. (Nketia, 1978:1). It is from this tradition that Newlove draws the pre-compositional elements for his classical choral pieces. Newlove is very much at home with this local tradition. Ghanaian ―classical music on the other hand refers to the art music tradition of the Western classical vein. It is the music of Western educated or trained composers that have a strong written tradition and are directed towards a non participating audience (Agawu 1984:38). It should be noted that Newlove, like many other composers of this classical art music, be it choral or instrumental, is Western trained. As such his works also reveal a strong dependence on Western concepts of musical structure and syntax.
Ewuradze is an evangelical song which was originally composed by Rev Gaddiel R. Acquaah, the first President of the Methodist Church-Ghana. Acquaah titled his choral art music ―Osabarimba (The Warrior) for which he drew on the “Ebibindwom genre. Ebibindwom, or Akan sacred lyrics as these songs are also called, are traditional songs that have evolved out of certain traditional musical types as a result of social change. The most probable of the traditional song types from which Ebibindwom evolved is asafo music [Akan warrior association] which, incidentally, has also been the foundation of several traditional musical types.Ebibindwom principally owes its development to evangelism in Ghana. Turkson (1975:4) states ―the Akan sacred lyrics as a musical type owes its development during the office of Rev. Thomas B. Freeman, by non-literate members of the church in Cape Coast in 1838. When Freeman realized that the non-literate members of the church did not participate in singing of the English Hymns he encouraged members to sing biblical text to traditional tunes.The result was the emergence of ebibindwom. Osabarimba is said to be the first choral art work to be composed with a traditional tune and was performed at the inaugural service of the conference of the Methodist Church when the church gained autonomy. The song seeks to confirm God‘s greatness and supremacy.Newlove dwelt on the same theme when he re-arranged ―Osabarimba” into his“Ewuradze‖ for tenor solo, chorus and drum ensemble. Acquaah‘s older version,Osabarimba is a piece that presents praises thanksgiving and appellations to God for offering the Methodist Church Ghana independence to worship. In Newlove‘s piece he introduces new texts, such as
- Ehunabobrim(Fearful one),
- Woana nye wo se? (Who is like you)?
- Egya Doefo (Lovely father, ―Oye Ohen‖ (He is a King), ―
- Nyame Nwanwanyi‖(Wonderful God).
As mentioned Ebibindwom music drew on the traditional ―Asafo music of young people. According to Dor (2005:451) during times of war in the past, young men sang asafo songs in order to prepare themselves and their neighbours for the task ahead of them. Like other Ghanaian war dances, asafo music therefore serves as a vehicle for sensitizing community members, creating awareness of what is at stake and galvanizing them to respond dynamically to a particular situation. Since ―asafo music is used to electrify the youth, its delivery is characterized by very high energy levels, especially in terms of dynamics and manner of articulation. This is also a characteristic of Newlove‘s Ewuradze. Customarily, asafo music performances open with loud yell, and followed with by exchanges of brisk and relatively short phrase between the song leader and chorus in call-and-response form. The melodic passages themselves are text driven, with declamatory phrases by the song leader often answered by loud intermittent yells from the chorus. These are either in the form of spoken words that tend to have no harmonic basis or at other times appear as sporadic chords. The second section of ―asafo songs are more lyrical, with longer sung phrases and more voice separation in the choruses.Newlove‘s use of dynamics and the call-and-response format in Ewuradze not only propels the verbal message but also captures the typical Ghanaian vocal practice as found in Asafo Newlove uses song texts to show how lovely, merciful, powerful and fearful God has remained after helping the Methodist Church in Ghana gain autonomyWhen the Europeans came to Africa Ghanaians accepted Christianity but had to reject certain key elements in their culture. Indigenous music and dance were therefore prohibited and European hymns replaced. Furthermore academic activities pushed Ghanaians into learning western music, thereby neglecting African music. Due to Western influences the earliest works by Ghanaian composers therefore sounded quite western. However, since the advent of the nationalist movements in Ghana‘s pre-independence era and the quest for an African Identity, current art works began to be much more drawn from the traditional music of our people.