Saturday, April 29, 2017

KORA AWARDS AfrikaPatrimony : Udu


Origin of the Udu

The etymology of the word Udu just jar or bottle in Igbo language, a Niger-Congo language. Initially, the udu was used as a pitcher to fetch water and keep cool. This jug could also be used to preserve food, to fish or to pick fruit.

There is a similar instrument to the Udu India and Pakistan which is called Gatham. While in Cuba called the Botija, such as by playing a group of Cuban musicians in the film Buena Social Club by Wim Wenders. In Brazil, it is named “African Pote”. The traditional Nigerian Udu differs from these other instruments by its thin mouth and a side hole for evacuation of the air.

Now become a musical instrument whose popularity is growing more and more, the udu is very often made of clay. After shaping the clay into the desired shape, the clay is cooked at high temperatures to ensure the strength of the instrument and obtaining a clear sound.

The size of the traditional udu is about 40 centimeters in length and generally has a diameter of 20 centimeters. However, its shape and appearance can vary what makes the originality of the udu. By cons, a basic rule remains in the design of the udu, it must always have a body with a hole and a neck whose mouth is fine enough.

Today, the udu is increasingly used in various styles of music, including jazz.

The musical instrument

The udu is a percussion musical instrument of the family hit idiophones. Idiophones, percussion instruments have neither rope nor membrane. It is the body of the instrument that produces sound.

A idiophone is a musical instrument whose sound is produced by the matter that makes up the instrument itself (p. Ex. Clay, metal, wood). Among the musical instruments of the family idiophones, count the xylophone, vibraphone and marimba.

Some smaller instruments are also known in the idiophone family: the triangle, castanets and cymbals.

Because of the simplicity of their design, idiophones are probably older than membranophones, which in turn are the instruments with a membrane stretched on a frame and whose sound is produced by the vibration of it.

Idiophones can be classified by their mode of shock. There are seven main modes:
• By knocking,
• For scraping;
• For clattering;
• For heave;
• For shock;
• By pinching;
• By friction: some idiophones can sometimes clashing to enter this mode according to their use (in the case of cymbals that can be as much or clashed hit that rubbed)

Source :

The sound of the udu is produced by the vibration of the air contained in its center. We get the sound by rubbing or hitting with the palm of the hand or knuckles. The rating varies depending on the place hit or closing the opening with one hand. There are many ways to set the pace with the udu, the player has to give in to his inspiration. The sound of the Udu is singing and resembles the runoff. The slightest slip palm can come change the tone.

Whether its manufacture is artisanal, every detail design, for example, the evacuation of the air, the degree of cooking, could affect its resonance and quality of the sound.