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date: 02 April 2020


  • revised by K.A. Gourlay
  •  and Amanda Villepastour
  • Rainer Polak


Set of double-headed conical drums of the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria and neighbouring Benin. The heads, of different sizes, are fastened with leather straps and small bells may be attached to the drums. An ensemble normally includes the lead drum ìyáàlù (‘mother drum’, the largest), the ‘female’ accompanying drum omele abo (medium-sized) and the small accompanying drums omele akọ and kúdi. The latter two are often strapped together as a single instrument. A typical ìyáàlù is 70–75 cm long, with heads about 24 and 14 cm in diameter. The omele abo is 50–60 cm long, with heads about 22 and 12 cm in diameter. The omele akọ and kúdi are 23–33 cm tall with heads about 15 and 11 cm in diameter. The ìyáàl̀ù and the omele abo are held horizontally. The smaller head is beaten with a rawhide thong, producing a sharp, high sound. The larger head is tuned with black paste, which allows the bare hand to produce a deep open tone, a slightly higher muffled tone, and a slap tone. The ...

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