Magical Drum

A Musical Theatre Piece on an African Theme
by Ray Luedeke with Joseph Ashong

Magical Drum PosterUsing a traditional story from East/Central Africa, composer Ray Luedeke, and Joseph Ashong, master drummer from Ghana, have woven together elements of traditional African music and dance with more contemporary sounds to create a unique blend that will delight audiences of all ages.

The Magical Singing Drum is a very compact production, using only four characters, who all sing and dance, and a synthesizer player. Joseph Ashong is himself the Ogre and provides traditional African drumming as well as African songs and dances. Built into the synthesizer score are a wealth of colourful sounds as well as an entire African drum ensemble.

The Story

DrunnerNtobuasie, a young girl wanting her freedom from grown-up rules, becomes trapped in a magic drum controlled by an Ogre, Foowala. When Foowala plays his drum, Ntobuasie must sing; and when Ntobuasie sings, she so delights the villagers that they bring the starving Foowala "chicken and rice, potatoes, tomatoes with butter and cream." But Menpaba and Enidaso, Ntobuasie's rather straight
laced parents, are not willing to easily lose their beloved daughter.
Leaving all they have behind them, they set off in search of the
itinerant Ogre and his mysterious drum. Eventually all is resolved,
there is a happy conclusion, and some valuable lessons are learned by Ntobuasie, by her parents and by a contrite Ogre.

Instrumentation: 3 versions

Drum Trio1. 6-7 Performers: soprano (or child soprano), mezzo-soprano, baritone, and Dancer/drummer/singer (Originally composed for an African master drummer, this part may be split into two parts: a dancer and a solo drummer - with voice part cued in the other voice parts) + Oboe (Eng. Hn.) + synthesizer (percussion parts are cued in the synthesizer, a separate drum machine is necessary)

2. 9-10 Performers: Same as #1 + 3 percussion players (cow bell, shaker, djembe). Note that the solo drum is also a djembe.

3.5 Performers: 4 principal parts + synthesizer (version for touring)


Joseph Ashong is a Master drummer, professional dancer,
choreographer, composer, recording artist, and teacher. He was born Joseph Ashongin Accra, capital city of Ghana, West Africa. Inspired by traditional music at an early age, Joseph began learning music in school and continued in his studies with teachers in Accra, and in Somanya, his mother's village. After his schooling, Joseph auditioned for and apprenticed with the National Dance Ensemble of Ghana. Here, Joseph's love of music and dance came together. He remained as a professional member of the National Ensemble for six years as a drummer and dancer. Joseph also studied West African dance with the Guinea Ballet as part of a cultural exchange, and he spent time studying under Master drummers in Senegal, West Africa. Joseph was granted a two-year sabbatical from the National Dance Ensemble to teach West African dance at the Emelia Dance Theatre in Zurich, Switzerland. Joseph moved to Canada in 1991.


Joseph is often called upon to share his knowledge of traditional Ghanaian culture, music and dance in educational settings. He taught DRums and KidsWest African percussion and dance at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music for three years, and he conducted classes and workshops with the National Ballet of Canada's "Creating Dance in the Schools" program, the Toronto Symphony's "Adopt A Player" program, and the Art Gallery of Ontario's "Spring Into Art" program. Joseph has provided percussion accompaniment for the University of Regina's Conservatory of Music and Dance, and both individually and as a member of Manding Jata, Joseph has conducted hundreds of school workshops across Canada, in the United States, in the Caribbean, and in Asia.


Drums & Kids 2Joseph's workshops are a fully┬Činteractive affair, and students of all ages and teachers are encouraged to get involved through call-and-response singing, rhythmic clapping, dancing, instrument playing, and by repeating and learning the names of different African :nstruments, songs and dances, and other African words.



The Magical Singing Drum
Part I
througn the dance, Kpanlogo
Drum 1

Part II
Drum 2


from 2 Workshop Performances
Drum 3