African Musical Instruments

African Musical Instruments

In traditional African culture, music has ritual, social, and ceremonial functions along with some solely recreational functions. Musical activities are highly ritualized and are considered to link the invisible world with the visible world. Melodies are generally organized within a scale of four, five, six, or seven tones. Musical instruments in Africa take on sculptural forms that are sacred, elaborate, simple, humorous, and serious, or a combination of all. Irrespective of whether these musical instruments are beaded, carved, painted, or decorated with skins, they send messages about the religious beliefs, artistic styles, and entertainment practices of the people who made them.

Percussion instruments are very popular musical instruments in Africa. Musical instruments of sub-Saharan Africa comprise of a wide variety of resonant solids such as stamping tubes, the mbira (thumb piano), and the xylophone. Mbira is one of the most popular melodic instruments in Africa. The mbira is used in different ways by different cultures and also exists in different forms in different cultures. Mbira may be used for entertainment purpose or for religious ceremonies. Friction sticks, bells, clappers, rattles, cymbals, and sansa are very popular percussion instruments.

Among the popular African instruments, drums are an important musical instrument. There are various parchment-head drums such as kettledrums, cylindrical drums, semi cylindrical drums, goblet drums, barrel-shaped drums, and hourglass drums with variable-tension heads. Many wind instruments are constructed out of horns, tusks, conch shells, or wood. Among wind instruments are flutes made of millet, reed, bamboo, or the tips of animal horns, and gourds. Panpipes, ocarinas, whistle, oboe, horns that are made from elephant tusks or animal horns, and trumpets made of wood, sections of gourd, or metal tubes, single-reed pipes made from millet stalks, and double-reed pipes adopted from Arabic culture are among other African wind instruments. African stringed musical instruments or chordophones include musical bows, zithers, bowed and plucked lutes, arched harps, harp-lutes, and lyres.

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By []Peter Emerson 

Article Source: [] African Musical Instruments