Posts Tagged ‘harps’
I have been teaching myself to play a new African instrument; one that you may have read about here a few years ago. It is called an adungu and it is indigenous to northern Uganda. I have admired musicians that played it and about 9 months ago, a guitarist who often plays with me, Charlie Shew, called me and told me that he just bought one. He strongly encouraged me to do the same… and I did! Rarely has there been a day since that I have not played it.
Charlie introduced me to Martin Klabunde, a master of this instrument. Don’t worry, you can have one too, Martin sells them in America at Collective Awakening. Here you will find videos that teach you how to play the adungu, books, and a variety of other instruments as well.
Playing the adungu is meditational and you don’t have to be a master to start playing a song – the instrument will play you for awhile before you can play it. Unfortunately you won’t remember what you have played for awhile, but I stopped worrying about that because it has given me so many songs already that it seems endless. It took me about 3 months before I could play the same song again and now I have begun to introduce the instrument to my audiences and I hope to start recording with it soon.
Nearly all African music instruments in the United States can be categorized in three ways: string, wind and percussion. Let’s begin with the string instruments.
Another name for string instruments is chordophone. These create sound from vibrating strings made of metal or gut, and within the family of strings there are three sub-categories:
Harps- which mount their strings in a right angle to the soundboard.
Citres or Zithers- instruments which don’t have a neck and use the body for the string-mount. A common zither or citres in the U.S. is a piano or harpsichord.
Lutes – a device with strings supported on a neck and with a resonance chamber. Americans know this type from guitars and violins.
There are a variety of ways to produce sound from a string instrument. Musicians can pluck the strings with their fingers or with a plucking device like a pick or even a feather. Some instruments are played with the assistance of a bow of horse-hair or similar synthetic material. By moving the bow across the strings, the strings vibrate and create sound. Lastly, struck string instruments involve hammer sticks to make sound by hitting keyboards attached to strings.
Another category of African instruments in the U.S. are the winds. Among these are flutes, reed pipes, lip vibrated instruments and free reeds.
Another word for wind instruments is aerophone, both the pipe aerophone like flutes and trumpets, and the free aerophone such as the mouth organ and accordion. The pipe aerophones create sound by resonating air blown into or over an opening. The free version controls the pitch by lengthening or shortening the length of the reed.
In some countries reed instruments are made from metal such as the harmonica or the accordion, however the African music instruments in the United States typically use wood and other materials that come from the land.
For great African music click through to Samite Mulondo’s website CD order page.
Like the continent, African musical culture is as vast as the distinct musical traditions of its regions and nations.
The music of North Africa has a different history from that of Sub-Saharan African music. Like the musical genres of the Nile Valley and the Horn of Africa, its music has close ties with Middle Eastern music. East Africa and the offshore islands in the Indian Ocean have slight Arabic music influence but also by the music of India, Indonesia, and Polynesia. The region’s indigenous musical traditions, however, are primarily of the sub-Saharan Niger Congo-speaking peoples.
Similarly in the broad sub-Saharan musical tradition Southern, Central, and West Africa draw their ancillary influences from Western Europe and North America. The music and dance forms of the African diaspora, including African American music and many Caribbean and Latin American music genres like rumba and salsa and other clave-based genres, were founded to varying degrees on the music of African slaves, which have in turn influenced African popular music.
There is a close connection between music and language in many African cultures because many African languages are tonal languages. The tonal pattern of the text puts some constraints on the melodic patterns in singing. But in instrumental music, a native speaker of a language can often perceive a text or texts in music. This effect is also the basis of drum languages (talking drums).
Besides the use of the voice, a wide array of musical instruments is used. African musical instruments include a wide range of drums, slit gongs, rattles, double bells as well as melodic instruments like string instruments (musical bows, harps, the kora, and fiddles), many types of xylophones and lamellophones like the mbira, and different types of wind instruments like flutes and trumpets.
Drums used in Africa include tama talking drums, bougarabou, and djembe in West Africa, water drums in central and West Africa, and the different types of ngoma drums or engoma in Central and Southern Africa. Other percussion instruments in African musical culture include many rattles and shakers such as the kosika, rainstick, bells, and woodsticks.
To visit Samite’s main website and order CD’s, CLICK HERE