Posts Tagged ‘Uganda’
The story of Uganda music is much like the tumultuous history of the country itself for the last 100 years.
The center of Ugandan music is the city of Kampala and the area of Wandegeya. The musical icon of this region is Bernard Kabanda who played a form of music called Kadongo Kamu, meaning “one guitar”. This style of sound is revered by the older people of the villages, though it is a hard sell to the younger generations who enjoy more complex sound involving more instruments.
The newest form of music in East Africa is called takeu. It is borrowed from the first letters of Tanzania and includes sounds from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
In the central area of Uganda are the people of Baganda who constitute one of the largest tribes there. The King of Buganda is Kabaka and he is the customary patron of the music. In this region music includes drums and expressive dances called the Nankasa, Amaggunju and Bakisimba.
Unlike other tribes in Uganda which rely heavily on percussive elements, the Baganda incorporate melody with instruments like the entongoli lyre, the ennanga harp, aerophonnes, idiophones and lamellophones. One of the largest xylophones in the world comes from this area and it is called the madinda.
In central Uganda are the Langi tribe and they create music with a reliance on the thumb piano, or okeme. This instrument was introduced to the region 100 years ago by the Congolese. Their lyrics also closely resemble the rap music of America. The dancing that accompanies this tradition of music is particularly lively and features much jumping and marching.
The uganda music industry is growing quickly and as much as 40 % of the sounds you hear on Ugandan radio stations are from local musicians, showing there is widespread support for this authentic music niche that is spreading worldwide.
Our friend Samite brings you a true authentic form of Ugandan music instilled in his childhood and delivered with all the passion that is the true Soul of Africa. Watch the video on Samite’s main website and you will be moved by his description of his mother playing a stringed instrument stretched between a bent tree sapling and a tin cover.
You will help the cause and spread the joy of African Music by pre-ordering Samite’s forthcoming CD.
A close look at traditional African music reveals a spectrum of influences; from the Arabic seeds of the north and its contribution to Egypt and Carthage, there are dominant strains that evoke sounds of the Middle East. Specific locales to be included in this realm are Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania.
It’s not exactly what one thinks about with Africa, however the Continent is vast and includes many ancient cultures. Not to be forgotten are the Sudan and Ethiopia, all clustered in this unique area of northern Africa.
Southern, West and Central Africa are solidly sub-Saharan and lure influences from North America and Western Europe. This is the music most often associated with “Africa”. There is an emphasis on rhythm and dance. Various work songs evoke the early history of music in antebellum America. There are different songs to accompany marriage, childbirth and hunting. Some songs repel evil spirits, some honor good spirits and much of it is political.
Sub-Saharan music incorporates four regions: The eastern section of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi and Mozambique, the South including Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia and Angola; Central, Chad, Congo, Zambia and music of the Pygmies, and the west which houses Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Togo and Nigeria.
African music uses various techniques not associated with this continent, like yodeling and melisma. A broad spectrum of instruments are used. Drums, rattles and bells create memorable melody and rhythm.
There are several kinds of xylophone and lamellophone, trumpets and flutes, but the most distinctive is the drum and it comes in many shapes and sizes.
English is the common language of Africa however specific local dialects lend themselves to the music. A native singer adds an authentic component to a song whereas other songs are automatic for a western ear. That’s because cross-pollination of music across the globe has brought a new dimension to traditional African music.
We invite you to listen to Samite as he pleasures your senses with the sounds and culture of Uganda and Kenya where he learned his style and crafted his unique skill. There is an order form on his main website for you to pre-order his latest CD. We are all excited about its release.
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.
Welcome to our new African Music Blog, a feature designed to bring you the latest news about the world of African music currently enjoying a worldwide following.
Thanks to our dear friend Samite, Soul of Africa sounds are available to a global audience. The New York Times describes Samite’s music as “serenity” that “seemed almost miraculous”. If you know about Samite’s extraordinary outlook on life, you will understand why his music is so transformative.
From his early years in Uganda where his grandfather taught Samite how to play a traditional African flute, to his escape from a political dictator to Nairobi, to the peaceful enclave of Ithaca, New York, Samite says music unites the world. He blends African traditions with challenge, fear and ultimate rebirth.
Our African music blog will provide you with some of this history and perspective and update you on Samite’s latest project, an 8th CD focusing on Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Mathai of Kenya. Samite is proud that the winner of this prestigious honor hails from his native Africa and he will strive for music that is worthy of the occasion.
Like Samite’s extraordinary life, music with African roots continues to evolve. Historically African music has been difficult to record in writing; it is passed down in an oral tradition and that makes it very different from western music and even from the music of Northern Africa which has Arabic influences.
Sub-Saharan music involves dance as an extension of the expression of music. Since African dialects involve tone languages, that is, the pitch of the delivery changes the meaning of essentially the same word, rhythm; melody and dance follow the tone of the voice to assist in the “translation” of the song.
We will provide a lot of exciting information for you to peruse, both traditional and modern. So check back frequently with our African Music Blog and learn a little something new with every click of the mouse.