playing Udu drum

How To Play an Udu Drum

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The Udu drum musical instrument takes us to one of the West Africa. The Udu drum originated from the Igbo tribe of the eastern part of Nigeria. One of the intriguing things about this instrument is, it is created and developed by women.


History of the Udu drum

Among the African musical instruments, the percussion is the essential tool in their music. These percussion are said to broadcast messages; it has a language of its own, the natives of the land understand and can interpret the sounds emitting from these instruments. One of these instruments is the Udu drum.

The Udu drum is made of a clay pot, and that is how the name was originated; the name Udu means pot in the Igbo dialect.

This type of percussion has a scope of one octave. Unlike the other percussions, you can utilize this range for a better percussion arrangement.

The uses of Udu

The Udu is an essential item that serves as a household and also as percussion.

The household: Initially these clay pots are used to fetch or store water gotten from the river. It is also used to store cultivated foods such as grains.

The bees also benefit from these pots; they use it for their nesting place which in turn gives honey to the local farmers.

The Udu as percussion: the Udu plays a significant role during the Igbo women’s ceremonies and rites.

However, when Christianity was introduced to Nigeria, the Udu drum became used in the early churches in the eastern part of the country as one of their musical instruments. One can still find the Udu drum in local churches in the eastern part of Nigeria.

Furthermore, the effect of the Udu drums can be seen in acoustic performances and the percussion musical by African musicians and reggae bands today.

Properties of the Udu drums

Amazingly, the Udu drums produce an unbelievable range of different sounds due to its distinct property.

The typical Udu drum has a side hole, and it is the most important part of the Udu drum. This distinct feature is what differentiates the Udu drum from the rest African percussion instruments.
The small side hole gathers air which carries the sound. The drum plays bass beats with vibrating tones. With the help of these beats, the player controls the rhythm of the song.

How to play the Udu drum

There are two ways to play the Udu:

#1. Tapping

You can play the drum by the tap of your hands; you tap the fingers on the sides while moving your hands over and away from the hole. These acts help to produce the different sounds.

#2. Covering and removing your hands from the hole

Covering the small side hole in a rhythmic motion helps you control the bass tone of the Udu drum.
It produces an effect that causes the sound of the Udu drum to move in between pitches; from high pitch to lower pitch.

If you want to influence the rise in the pitch, you can gently uncover the hole while tapping the other side with your fingers.

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