The enduring Appeal of African Musical Instruments

Kolkata, India
June 1, 2013 5:28am CST
African musical instruments much akin to the vastness of the continent are diverse in their number, type, shape and sounds. Popular music and melodic instruments of Africa vary according to different regions having their own distinct appeal. The richness of African musical tradition has various influences – African-American, Caribbean, Latin American and others. Enslaved Africans have also in turn influenced African popular music due to their exposure to other cultures. Some typical and unique African musical instruments include D’Jembe drums from Senegal, Mali and Ghana, tic toc drums, djun djun drums, talking drums, rattles, gankeke bells, balafons, wooden flutes, malian kora, cowry shell shekere, slit gongs etc. There are also various other string, xylophone, wind and harp-like instruments which are so characteristic of Africa. Among drums, D’Jembe drums, bougarabou, talking drums, water drums, ngoma drums, tic toc drums hold a special place in African musical tradition. These drums are used for various ceremonies – marriage, birth, hunting, death and are accompanied with ritual dance. Many drums are even used to inspire people in war. These drums are perhaps the most basic of all African musical instruments dating back to 500 A.D. having deeper symbolic meaning. Many of them are used to ward off evil spirits and pay respect to good spirits, the dead and the ancestors. They actually represent the natural rhythm and beauty of the people of Africa. Music is an integral part of African culture; in fact, for generations, much of their history and culture have drawn a lot of inspiration from music.
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