Rattles (ebinyege)

Ebinyege - Binyege (Entongoro)

Rattles - percussion instrument

These originate in Bunyoro and Batooro (Toro) in Western Uganda along the roots of mountain Rwenzori. The seeds are put in these dry fruits to produce rhythmic patterns when shaken. Ebinyege are tied on the males legs to produce the sound and the Runyege dance (courtship dance of the Batooro) is named after the ebinyege, hence an important prop.

Oncoba spinosa - Snuff-box Tree - Fried Egg Tree


The keys are separated by either long sticks (Baganda) or short ones (Bakonjo, Basoga use either long or short) and are placed on banana stems in the pre-colonial era. The Amadinda keys are tied in place by threading fiber through small holes in the wood. Akadinda has two shoulders carved on the bottom so that the will not move when it is placed on the banana stems. The keys of the xylophone, which are not tied or otherwise fixed, are kept in placed when being played, by the musicians toes or young boys. Nowadays the whole instrument is made of wood. The Akadinda has 17 keys. In the olden times, it had 22. Five men were needed to play the 17 keys and 6 the 22. This rare xylophone is played for the Kabaka, the Buganda King. The Amadinda has 12 keys, 3 men each playing a different theme, are needed to play this xylophone. One man plays only the 2 highest notes while the others may use any of the ten. Only important men kept the Amadinda.

Agwara (Horn)

side blown horn - wind instrument

These come from the Lugbara and Kebu tribes of the western Nile region and are played in groups of seven or more. These side-blown horns sometimes have a single fingerhole, which is used for grace-note ornaments.

The instruments of the Iteso and Karimojong people are made of cow horns and have only one mouthpiece; they are only used for communicating or giving signals.

Instruments, which produce sound through a vibrating column of air, are called aerophones. Horns are a type of "brass" or buzzed-lip instruments.

Djembe Drums

The jembe (pronounced 'jem-beh') is the goblet shaped drum used by the Maninke people of western Africa since around 1300.

It emerged out of the greatness of the Malian Empire, King Sunjata, and the Mandingo people, who by the 14th century controlled most of the western bulge of Africa.

The blacksmiths (the numu) first made it; playing it only during the smelting of iron ore. The drum has endured and evolved and is now a large part of daily life in present day Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso.

Social occasions each have their own songs and dances, sung by the griot, or storyteller, accompanied by drummers, singers and dancers. Songs tell of great leaders, like the powerful king Sunjata, or praise certain professions, like the cobblers or hunters.

The jembe is primarily the instrument of dance used at marriages, baptisms, funerals, circumcisions and excisions. Songs are also played during the ploughing, sowing and the harvest, used for courtship rituals and even to settle disputes among the men of the village.

In a typical ensemble, two jembes and a dunun player accompany the griot, or traditional storyteller. Women sing and clap hands, while moving in and out of the circle, showing off their skill as dancers. The jembe master or soloist, given the title of jembefola, leads the pace of the dance, increasing the tempo when good dancers enter the circle. A single song is played for most occasions, usually lasting a few hours. ......source:

Ngoma Drum

While larger versions of this drum are traditionally hand-carved from old-growth hardwood trees, now these drums are made with pinewood slats tied together like barrels. Smaller drums are laminated and turned on a lathe and may be provided with a rope carrying the handle. All these drums have heads made from hide held by hardwood pegs hammered into the side of the drum.

Drums in African tradition bring the power that drives a performance. Music is not merely entertainment, but is ultimately bound to visual and dramatic arts as well as the larger fabric of life. Drums may be used for "talking," that is, sending information and signals by imitating speech. Many African languages are both tonal (that is, meaning can depend on pitch inflections) and rhythmic (that is, accents may be durational), giving speech a musical quality that may be imitated by drums and other instruments. Drumming music and dance are almost always an accompaniment for any manner of ceremony; birth, marriages, funerals.

Adungu (Harp)

The eight-stringed ennanga of the Buganda and the six-stringed adeudeu (bow-harp) of the Iteso people are similar in shape with the eight or more stringed adungu from the western Nile region.

The adungu is a nine-string arched (bow) harp of the Alur people of northwestern Uganda. It is very similar to the tumi harp of the neighbouring Kebu people, and it is also used by the Lugbara and Ondrosi tribes in this northwestern region around the Nile. The harp is used to accompany epic and lyrical songs, and it is also used as a solo instrument or within ensembles. Players of arched harps have had a high social status and are included in royal retinues. Nowadays they also play in churches.

The adungu consists of an arched neck, a wooden resonator (sound box) in which the neck is fixed, and a series of parallel strings of unequal lengths that are plucked. The strings are fixed at one end to the resonator and run at an oblique angle to the neck, where they are attached and tuned with pegs.

The first, second, and third strings are tuned in octaves with the sixth, seventh, and eighth respectively. In traditional music the instrument is tuned in a pentatonic (five-note) scale, but it can also be tuned in modern style to a diatonic scale.

Akogo(thumb piano/kalimba/sansa)

This is a very popular African instrument. Its early development is unknown, but foreign travelers reported first seeing it in Africa in 1586. The sansa is known in Buganda as Akadongo k'abaluru or little instrument of the Alur tribe found in the West Nile region, northern part of Uganda. These people say they adopted it from Belgian Congo. Many villagers in Uganda call it "Kongo" and foreigners generally made the instruments. The Mbuti pygmies in Amba use rattan cane keys and a straight bridge, however most sansas in Uganda have iron keys and a u-shaped bridge. The number of keys depends on the ethnic group. The Basoga tribe plays different sizes of sansa together.