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Songbook Cover Art (click for larger view)Songs of West Africa Songbook/CD

Here's an exciting new resource for anyone interested in African music and culture. Songs of West Africa by Dan Gorlin contains over 80 traditional African folk songs and chants in 6 languages along with extensive translations, annotations and performance notes. It may be the most complete collection of African songs ever published.

The book highlights traditional songs from the Anlo-Ewe, Lobi, Ga-Adangbe, Egu, Foh, and related ethnic groups from Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria. There are sacred songs from Afa, Agzogbo, Gadzo, and Yewe traditions. Also major secular and historical music including Agbekor, Kinka, Atsia, Gahu, Takada, and more.

Many of the songs are simple to learn, and can be easily taught to grade school students or adapted to other styles of music. But the scope of this book goes far beyond children's songs. Each song is explained in terms of cultural context, and translated in a way that helps you form your own interpretation of its meaning. You'll discover that singing the songs of Africa is a superb way to learn about her people, culture, and history -- and it's fun!

The contents of this book & CD are now downloadable for free! See the end of this page.

CD Cover Art (click for larger view)More Than a Songbook

The text includes music fundamentals, a pronunciation guide, and useful introductions to West African society, sensibility, and spirituality. Using the companion audio CD (included) you learn by singing along like young Africans do - or just listen and enjoy. The CD was studio-recorded especially for this book, so vocals and harmonies are easily heard over the supporting drums.

Editorial Reviews

"A terrific resource on African music. Dan Gorlin¹s opening chapters on African music and culture are well written, informative, accurate and full of excellent advice for performers. At the heart of the book are lyrics from a wonderful collection of songs that are carefully linked to excellent performances on the great sounding CD. The song texts are sensitively translated and their meaning is well explained. I highly recommend this book/CD set to everyone interested in African music."

-- David Locke, Tufts University, director of Agbekor Drum & Dance Society,
author of Drum Gahu: The Rhythms of West African Music and others.

"A truly wonderful resource...and I know from my own work with Abraham Adzenyah, Freeman Kwadzo Donkor and Maxwell Amoh how much went into creating it (including the lengthy conversations that gave you such insight into the tradition). Bravo!"

-- Judith Cook Tucker, Founder & Publisher of World Music Press,
co-author of Let Your Voice Be Heard: Songs from Ghana and Zimbabwe and others.

"Dan Gorlin's Songs of West Africa is a welcome and timely addition to the written and audio repertoire. As African music has gained in popularity, it has often thinned out in depth. This book and CD set brings many of the most important elements of this art form into focus for the reader. Beautifully laid out and easy to follow, this collection will inspire those already involved in West African music and provide newcomers with a coherent and substantial introduction to this wonderful repertoire of songs. Gorlin's clear presentation is obviously steeped in rich experience and we can imagine the creative community around him that must exist for a publication of this quality to be made. Its scholarly integrity and general accessibility make it suitable for educators, researchers and performers alike."

-- Kathy Armstrong, Co-Founder & Artistic Director of Baobab Tree
Drum*Dance*Community, Ottawa, Canada

Individual Song Samples

Learn more about Songs of West Africa by browsing the samples below. For help reading PDF or playing MP3 files, click here.

PDF File Table of Contents (PDF) Table of Contents (HTML)
PDF File What's On CD (PDF) What's On CD (HTML)
PDF File Song: Haye Haye (PDF) MP3 Audio: Lo-204KB Hi-1.2MB
PDF File Song: Kinka Viawo (PDF) MP3 Audio: Lo-204KB Hi-1.2MB
PDF File Song: Fia Mu Logo (PDF) MP3 Audio: Lo-204KB Hi-1.2MB

PDF File Song: Akpabli Hosu (PDF)

MP3 Audio: Lo-227KB Hi-1.3MB
PDF File Introduction (PDF) About the Author (HTML)

Full Songbook Text and CD Audio Online

Creative Commons License
The Alokli songbook is out of print but the entire book and CD are now available here for free download. The text and audio content provided here from "Songs of West Africa"
by Dan Gorlin is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Print it, copy it, perform it, link to it, use it in the classroom, no worries. Just provide attribution where appropriate and don't try to resell it or say you wrote it or make money off of it without getting permission or our international team of high-priced celebrity lawyers with perfect hair will turn you and your relatives into catfood.

To save files to your own computer, right-click the link on PC (option-click on MAC) and select something like "Save link as...". Then you can open your own copies of these files for faster access.

Full songbook, in PDF format with bookmarks. This file can be viewed, printed, or downloaded to your computer for quick access. If you need hardcopy, just take it to Kinkos and have it bound in a book. PDF FileFull Songbook (PDF)
Front cover page. If you want to get fancy, print this in color on heavy stock. Front Cover (JPG)
Full audio from CD in mp3 format. 24 tracks compressed in a ZIP file. It's a long download (100MB)! Songbook Audio (ZIP)

Songbook Audio by Track (MP3)
T01 Adzohu Kadodo T13 Gadzo
T02 Adzohu Ago T14 Gahu Hatsiatsia

T03 Adzohu Atsia

T15 Gahu Hatsiatsia & Vutsotsoe
T04 Afa Anago T16 Kinka
T05 Afa Dzisa T17 Takada Hatsiatsia
T06 Agbadza Poka T18 Takada Vutsoetsoe
T07 Agbadza Ageshe T19 Yewe Agovu
T08 Agbekor Vulolo T20 Yewe Sogba
T09 Agbekor Hatsiatsia T21 Yewe Sovu
T10 Agbekor Vutsotsoe T22 Yewe Adavu
T11 Atsia Hatsiatsia & Vutsotsoe T23 Yewe Afovu
T12 Nandom Bawa T24 Yewe Husago

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Songs of West Africa Songbook/CD
Now online!

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