AfroLoops: discovering the instruments of Africa

INTERNATIONAL LIBRARY OF AFRICAN MUSIC  |  Series , ±6 min episodes total time 44 min  | 
In AfroLoops: Discovering the instruments of Africa, we introduce you to some of the continent's best-loved instruments - how they're made and played, how they sound and a bit about their history. So - if you don't know your marimba from your mbira, this podcast is for you.

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1. In the beginning ...

In 1920, a young Hugh Tracey was shipped off to Southern Rhodesia to work on his older brother’s tobacco farm. He immediately became fascinated by the songs he heard the African workers singing. It was the beginning of his life’s work – travelling Africa recording the music of the continent. In this first edition of Afroloops, travel back in time and discover more about one of the earliest recordings he ever made.

2. The Marimba

The marimba is one of the most African of instruments ... or is it? Xylophone-like instruments are found all over the world but the marimba sound we know is so very South African. In this episode discover the real origins of the South African marimba and find out how the sound evolved.

3. The Amadinda

How many instruments can you think of that can be played by up to eight people at once? The amadinda is originally from Uganda, created by the Baganda people and played for more than 40 generations at the court of their king. Now it’s finding its way around the world. Find out why.

4. The Uhadi Bow

The Uhadi Bow is a traditional Xhosa instrument. It creates one of the most distinctive sounds of all African instruments and is traditionally played by women. Hear how it's made and played in this edition of Afroloops.

5. The Nyunga Nyunga Mbira

The mbira - or thumb piano - is traditional to the Shona people of Zimbabwe. Mbiras are often used for rites and ceremonies but this one - the nyunga nyunga ("sparkle sparkle") mbira is just for entertainment. Find out how it lives up to its name.

6. The Djembe Drum

In Africa, whether it's war or peace, joy or sadness, birth or death - it will often be drums you hear spreading the message. Celebrated for its versatility, the djembe drum is one of Africa’s most popular musical instruments. Join us as we find out more about making the drums 'talk'.

7. The Mbila

The mbila was developed by the Chopi tribe from Mozambique and groups of timbila (the plural) are often played in 'orchestras', using complex cross rhythms. Its unique sound has made it world famous – it’s even won a UNESCO award. Find out more in this edition of Afroloops.

7 episodes