Samples of Musical Instruments From The Igbo Land

These musical tools are used primarily by masquerade, dance, and musical groups in special human activities like; rituals, spiritual and cultural events as well as births of new born and funerals. Today, they are also used to accompany church choirs.

UmunnaThe EKWE (Silt-drum) is a tree trunk, hollowed throughout its length from two rectangular cavities at its ends and a horizontal slit that connects the cavities. The size of the slit-drum depends on its use and significance.

Its significance includes use as musical instrument at coronation, cultural events and rituals. The different sounds of the drum summon the citizens at the monarch's palaces, or town squares. The strong rhythm of the slit-drum, gave special signals for inundation, meetings, announcements of fire, theft and other emergencies.

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UmunnaThe IGBA (Cylinder-drum) is a piece of hollow wood covered at one end with animal hide held down tight with fasteners. The artist carries it over his shoulder with the help of a shoulder strap.

The artist produces the sound by beating on the animal hide with his fingers or combination of one set of fingers and a special stick. The cylinder-drum accompanies dances, songs, religious and secular ceremonies, and its tunes have been known to gave special signals for good news as well as bad news.

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UmunnaThe OGENE (Gong) is the most important metal instrument among the Igbo people. They were made originally in bronze but, in modern time, are mainly made of common metal as a bulging surface in elliptical shaped rim, and tapering like a frustum to its handle.

It is hit about its rim by a stick to produce different tunes. The Ogene (gong) accompanies dances, songs, religious and secular ceremonies, and its tunes have been developed to transmit messages by a sort of lyric prose.

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UmunnaThe OJA (Flute) is a piece of wood designed with a cavity inside, the top has a wide opening to fit the shape of the human lower lip, a small hole on the bottom and two smaller holes closer to the top on exact opposite side.

The artist blows the musical sounds through the wide opening, while placing the thumb and the ring fingers simultaneously on the two smallest holes to control the rhythm. The bottom hole which is left alone at all times controls the musical rhythm out flow. It accompanies dances and songs, or played as solo.

UmunnaThese are other supporting instruments. Some gifted artists can make beautiful music with any combination of these instruments.




We live and enjoy our culture ... from the men's masquerade groups to the instruments we use. Not forgetting our women's cultural groups. We stay grounded in the culture we are so proud of. Listed below are some web links to get you involved.

>> Learn About Our Umunna Men's Cultural Masquerade Group

>> Learn About Our About Umunna Women's Cultural Dance Group

>> Please click here to view the pictures of our three masquerade and listen to the unique rhythm of each masquerade

>> Samples of Igbo Musicians