Posts Tagged ‘Samite Mulondo’
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.
Any discussion of African Music must include the various influences of other countries on the African Continent.
Northern Africa is dominated by Arabic culture. South Africa is affected by Western styles. So the most authentic African music is widely accepted to come from the central, or sub-Saharan part of the continent.
Most ancient societies use music as a means of communication and Africa is no exception. In fact, the very language itself is musical, as the tone of delivery changes the meaning and context. For this reason, African languages are considered “tone languages”.
Modern life has crept into sub-Saharan Africa. Traditional music is getting harder and harder to find. Today it is common to see blends of cultures in the music. The Caribbean is present in songs which incorporate African and Western sounds. Latin America makes its way into music of the Congo. The United States’ history of swing is apparent in the music of South Africa.
Traditional dance and music of Africa are threatened with extinction so it’s vital that artists spread the importance of this cultural art form throughout the world.
One way this can be accomplished is with the unique sounding musical instruments used in African music. In sub-Saharan Africa artists use resonant devices such as bells, the thumb piano or mbira, the xylophone and stamping tubes.
Drums are available in many varieties such as kettledrums, membranophones made from parchment, and drums of different shapes such as cylindrical, semicylindrical and barrel-shaped. There are even drums in the shape of an hour-glass.
The indigenous animals of the continent are represented in other instruments. Animal horns make up wind instruments like horns made of elephant tusks. Other natural materials like wood and gourd, and millet stalks and reeds make flute-like wonders similar to the western flute.
It’s no wonder that African Music of yesterday and today is finding an appreciative audience worldwide. It is with pleasure that we recommend Samite’s latest CD album, “My Music World” to bring you the type of music that Samite Mulondo appreciates and loves to share.
Click this link for a previous article about African Music.
Traditionally, world music artist meant any musician who created a sound out of Africa, Asia, South and Central America, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean.
In the 1980s the rapid rise in popularity of non-English popular music in the U.S. and Great Britain prompted a search for a name for this new genre. “World music” was considered a lasting and mainstream style by the early 1990s.
This genre received early endorsement by Francis Bebey, a Cameroon national living in France who boosted the profile of this rich and soulful sound. France became an appreciative market.
The biggest stars in those early days were Fela Anikulapo Kuti and King Sunny Ade from Nigeria and Youssou N’Dour from Senegal.
In the 21st century world music grew to include the Pakistani sounds of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan who artfully blended technologically sophisticated rhythmic sounds with ancient messages. The French group Gipsy Kings were performers who wove this unique texture into a popular sound of the early new century.
World music has its share of detractors. The New York Times published an Op-Ed piece by David Byrne of the Luaka Bop music label. Titled, I Hate World Music, Byrne wrote that describing music of other cultures as “exotic” places an unfair advantage on world music artists over others performing in more typical genres.
The BBC Radio 3 obviously thinks otherwise, hosting World Music Awards from 2005 until 2008. Beginning in 2009 the Awards were hosted by the Music Magazine Songlines.
Today people around the world, in cities large and small, have the opportunity to hear world music through dozens of festivals occurring around the world. The largest is the Ariano Folk Festival in southern Italy. One of the smallest locales is in Trumansburg in the Finger Lakes region of New York, home of our believed world music artist, Samite Mulondo.
It usually takes place annually on the second-to-last weekend of July in Trumansburg, New York (10 Mi. North of Ithaca). GrassRoots presents over 60 bands on four stages for four days, in just about every genre you could think of, with the emphasis being on world, folk and ethnic music. Watch this site for future announcements.
We share with you another message from Samite on the African Music Blog, in answer to a question asked about the music that he personally listens to.
“I am often asked what kind of music I enjoy listening to and what music inspires me. My taste is broad and varied because the music I listen to depends on the mood that I am in.
However, there is one group of musicians that I can listen to anytime – no matter where I am or what I am doing. I met these musicians in Soroti, Uganda while visiting IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps that house those who have been forcibly moved from their homes due to conflict. I will tell you more later about the work that I do in these places.
I call these musicians the “Soroti Boys” – they did not have a name for themselves and I knew they deserved one. They made the most amazing music on the kalimba, and a traditional string instrument called an adungu – a nine-stringed arched harp that has the silhouette of a sail boat at sea, and of course their voices were beautiful instruments as well.
If I did not tell you my name for this musical group, the falsetto voices of some of the members would trick you into believing you hear women singing. They played kalimbas of a few different sizes that represented the sounds of bass, solo, and rhythm guitars.
I was very fortunate that they allowed me to record them performing which is why I am able to share it with you today. I think you will enjoy this taste of music from Uganda. - Samite Mulondo”
“Wewe ndugu zangu”
(“For you my friends” – Swahiri)
You may listen to the Soroti Boys by using the built in mp3 player here:
You may also download the song here: Soroti Boys mp3