Gahu Instructional DVD

A documentary and instructional video for the West African drum style Gahu

Client: Myself and the Art Institutes International of Minnesota

Role: Project manager, director, co-editor, and DVD author

Primary goal: Produce a documentary of the history of the West African drum style Gahu along with an instructional video on how to play many individual percussion parts


A four-minute documentary about the Ewe West African drum style Gahu. © 2006

As part of a two-person project team, our goal was to film a documentary video. We chose to explore the West African drum style Gahu from both a historical and an instructional perspective.

We interviewed two experts: Francis Kofi, an Ewe born in Ghana who grew up surrounded by music, including Gahu and Marc Anderson, a student and teacher of West African music. Marc also had recorded footage from Ghana ten years ago with people playing Gahu. With these three sources added to our own historical research, we edited a four-minute documentary about the style of Gahu.

For the instructional component, we also filmed Marc teaching the different drum parts of Gahu individually. We shot with two cameras, one directly on Marc and the instrument and one bounced off a mirror on the ceiling resulting in a “drummer’s view” to make it easier for students learning from the DVD.

View a portion of the interactive multi-angle DVD. Watch the mouse cursor as it chooses a different view, allowing the user to learn different parts in a poly-rhythmic context.

We also shot multi-tracked video and audio and edited these assets into an interactive DVD learning experience. For poly-rhythmic music, such as the style Gahu, it is very difficult for one person to learn alone. All of the support parts must be present to fully understand the intricacies of the music. Our goal was to provide a poly-rhythmic experience second only to fellow live performers. With the DVD, the viewer can choose from seven video tracks all synced to one audio track. This allows the viewer to choose the part they are learning, while hearing all of the other parts. They can also easily switch to another part visually, to learn how that part connects with the part they are learning.