A summary of: Traditional Musical Instruments in Sudan
The book is prepared By: Ali Al Daw&AbdAllah Mohammed
Sudan is composed of different cultures, traditions and social lives, which has led to differences in musical instruments and styles.This book will inform the readers about different instruments, how they are made and in which part of Sudan.
In the coming few lines we will only feature some of the instruments that the book has featured. However, we recommend you to take the time to read the book and gain more information about our traditional musical instruments.
“An Idiophone maybe broadly defined as any instrument upon which a sound many be produced without the addition of stretched membrane or vibrating string or reed” (Nketia, J H Kwabena, the music of Africa, 1974)
Gugu: The gugu is a slit drum made from a tree trunk carved to resemble an animal with four legs, a head and a tail. The resonator is the body of the animal which is hollowed out with a narrow slit that works as the sound on the back. The two edges of slit are made of different thicknesses to give different pitches when struck.
The player mounts the Gugu, stretching his leg along the sound hole ready to damp it when needed. As a tuned idiophone, the Gugu gives different sounds according to the side struck (tThick or thin), to the stick (wrapped up or not) and the sound hole.
The Gugu is used as a musical instrument to accompany the Banimbo xylophone, Ansorosistrum and drums, but it is also used to send signal messages between the Zandi tribes in southern Sudan and it may be for this last reason that it stood as a symbol of power of the Zandi chiefs who tended to have a huge gugu in their courts.
Koshkoash: The Kashkoash rattle is the most widespread shaken idiophone in the Sudan. It can be easily made by putting small stones or hard seeds into a container such as a gourd, calabash, empty can or locally made til ball. A handle is necessary to make good resonator. Pitch and tone colour differ according to the size and material of the container and the rattlers. It has as many names as there are languages and dialects in the Sudan. It is used in the Zar to accompany the Tumbura lyre and is then known as TumburaKoshkosh, and it also used in Barta dances in the Dar funj, bearing the name of Assessghu.
Taar: Is a hand drum made of goat skin stretched across a wooden frame and fixed by gum or some other adhesive material. The Taar comes in three different sizes and has different pitches accordingly. It is beaten with the hand and normally the tension of the membrane is increased by exposing it to the heat of a fire whilst rubbing it.
It is used by Nubians of northern Sudan to accompany singing and dancing and also used in the Zikir ensembles. Normally more than one Taar is used to produce multiline rhythms.
Shatam: There are two kinds of this instrument:
• Shatam al Sufieyya - This is a small double drum made of wood and covered at both ends with skin tightened by strips. It is beaten with small pieces of hard leather to accompany the Noba in the Zikir ensembles.
• Shatam al dallukah - This is a small pot made of clay covered with skin fixed with
gum or some other adhesive material.The chordophones
Um Kiiki: This is a one-stringed fiddle Its string runs parallel to its neck. The neck is made of wood while the resonator is a bowl-shaped gourd covered with leather. The string is tuned to give only one tone, but the player, who is at the same time the singer (called locally “al haddaya”) produces extra notes by stopping the string in different positions. This instrument is played by means of a bow.
We find this kind of musical instrument in the nomadic areas of Kordofan and Darfur especially among Hawazma, the Riziegat and then Misieriyya tribes, who are called locally “al baggara”. This kind of musical instrument was originally known as the “Arabic Rabab”
Zumbara: This kind of flute is made of a special root and more recently has been made of brass or copper.It has two side holes and a third on the lower end. We find these kinds of musical instruments in the nomadic areas of the White Nile, the Butana area and northern Kordofan. This kind of flute helps to control animals, as the music relaxes them. At the same time it can be used for conveying signals to help the lost animals return to the group.
Keiyta: is a reed instrument usually made out of the stalk of millet or similar plants. The embouchure, or mouthpiece, consists of a short flap and a piece of fruit shell or calabash, and recently tin has been placed at both ends of the instrument.
The instrument is accompanied by three small drums played by men. Women participate in Keiyta ensembles as singers and dancers. We find this kind of pipe among the Hausa who emigrated from West Africa and settled in many areas of Sudan, but the instrument belongs to the family of Mizmar Arabic..