Posts Tagged ‘Endongo’
These traditional African instruments enrich the fabric of African history and culture, and contribute to the exciting opportunity of a global audience for this genre.
The Basoga and Baganda Lyre is a string instrument of lizard skin and other skins in the tradition of drums and harp. Strings are tied to wood and placed in a hole so the two arms of the lyre can connect. The “endongo” or Ganda Lyre has a single hole, the Entongoli or Soga instrument has two pieces of barkcloth, banana threads or ordinary cloth and it winds around the yoke.
Strings are wrapped around tightly until it becomes a tuning peg. An unusual feature of the Baganda and Basoga lyre is the lack of progressive order of the strings. Unlike the zither and arched harp, the highest note is the third string from the left and the lowest is the fifth lowest. Octaves are found on strings 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7.
Akindinda: This is a percussion instrument that resembles a xylophone. 200 years ago the keys were tied in place with fiber threaded through holes in the wood. However the more “modern” akadinda has two braces with carving on the bottom so it doesn’t move when placed on a countertop.
The keys of this instrument are held together with the novel method of the musician’s toes or even a young child holding them in place. The Akadinda has 17 keys although older versions had 22 keys. It took five men to play the 17 keys.
The amadinda has 12 different keys which required three men to play a unique theme. In Ugandan culture, only the most important men in society maintained the amadinda.
The Sansa is a widely popular musical instrument first reported in 1586. It has iron keys and a U-shaped foundation and keys determined by the specific ethnic group, making traditional African instruments a very personal experience in the continent.
Diversity in African music instruments is what gives them their unique sound quality. African instruments include a range of string and percussion devices with cultural and religious significance.
Here are some typical musical instruments from Uganda:
Kikuyu: This is a type of fiddle made from a gourd. In Africa children often make their own instruments and they are taught how to do this from an early age. It is not uncommon for four year olds to make instruments for themselves and this is something they can handle.
Engalabi: A traditional percussion instrument resembling a long, small drum. It has a reptile skin that is nailed to the wooden frame. Lately the Ugandan government has discouraged the practice of using reptile skin but the tradition continues. This instrument is played with bare hands.
Enkwanzi: A panpipe also called an oburere. It means “little flutes” and it is made from bamboo or elephant grass. The nodules on the grass block the passage of air and gives the instrument its pitch. The reeds are assembled, large to small and tied together with string. Western flutes with finger holes are believed to have evolved from this ancient musical device.
Ensasi: A shaker made of two gourds with stick handles used to accompany other instruments in traditional Ugandan music especially in the eastern and central region. In northern Uganda there is a unique sound because the beads move side to side in a tin shell or gourd with several holes.
Basoga Lyre: Made with lizard skin and tied with animal skin like the drums and harp. Strings are assembled with wood woven through holes. The Endongo, or Danda Lyre has one hole and the Entongoli, or Soga, has two pieces of banana fibers or barkcloth around the yoke.
As you can see, these instruments are quite different from the ones cultivated in Europe, and the musical experience is equally wondrous with African music instruments.