What are ancient African musical instruments?

Read this article to see some of the most ancient and the most popular African musical instruments which are still used nowadays.

african musical instruments

Africa is a continent with the longest culture history. As it refers to music, the African continent can demonstrate a vast specter of musical instruments that have existed through the centuries and still used today in the cultures of different African and non-African countries.
Let us observe some of the most ancient and most popular African musical instruments.


acoustic kalimba

The name of this musical instrument variates depending on the tribe. It is one of the most ancient and most popular African musical instruments and often called an African piano.
It was often used in the works of a famous Zimbabwean musician Thomas Mapfumo.
The music of Kalimba which is believed to be the westernized version of mbira is based on the cross-rhythm.


african marimba

Marimba is believed to be the ancient relative of xylophone. It is made of set of wooden bars which are to be struck by mallets for musical tones.
What’s interesting, marimba was created in the Central America by slaves from Africa and it’s the national instrument of Guatemala.
Through the history of its existence marimba has been used by many jazz vibraphonists.  It also was perfectly played by the leader of Rolling Stones Brian Jones in songs “Under My Thumb” and “Out Of Time”. Elthon John’s famous “Island Girl” also has some marimba vibes.


african shekere

This instrument originates from the Western Africa. It consists of a dried gourd and beads that are woven into the net which covers the gourd.
The vine gourds grow on the ground and their shape determines the sound of Shekere. We may say that every example of shekere is exclusive. During the performance it may be shaken and hit against the hands of a musician.
It is spread in many countries, such as Cuba, Brazil, Ghana, Guinea and Liberia.


african algaita

This musical instrument is very popular amongst Hausa and Kanuri people. It’s a double reed wind instrument which originates from the Western part of Africa.

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nigerian udu

Udu is an instrument created by Igbo people of Nigeria. It is an implosive aerophone and it is made of clay.
The Igbo women played it during the different ceremonies. In simple words, it is a water jug with an additional hole in it. It is played by the hand and produces the bass sounds while the musician frequently hits the hole. Also, the corpus of udu may be played by fingers.


african kora

This African instrument is widely used on the territory of the West Africa. It has 21 strings.
Kora is produced of a large calabash which is cut in half. Then it is covered with a cow skin for making a resonator with a long neck made of hardwood.
Kora players use the left hand to play eleven strings and the right hand for the other ten. Traditionally the kora players are called Jali.

Djembe or Jembe

african jembe

This instrument also originates from the Western Africa. It represents a goblet drum and to be played with bare hands.
It is the most known African musical instruments and was used by Paul Simon and even Cirque du Soleil which brought some awareness with it to the western auditory.

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