He studied at the University of London from 1944 to 1949, beginning with two years of study in linguistics at the School of Oriental and African Studies. In 1949 he began three years' study at Birkbeck College, University of London, and Trinity College of Music, London, obtaining a B.A. degree. In 1958 a Rockefeller Fellowship allowed him to come to the United States, where he attended Columbia University (studying with Henry Cowell), the Juilliard School, and Northwestern University, studying musicology and composition. He is an emeritus professor of music at the University of Ghana, where he began teaching in 1952. He currently directs the International Centre for African Music and Dance (ICAMD).
He has composed for both Western and African instruments.