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Friday, 2 August 2013


Yorùbá music

Bí orin bá j
ẹ́ oúnjẹ ìfẹ́, ẹ máa kọ ọ́ lọ; if music is the food of love, play on - William Shakespeare.

Like other human race ẹ̀ya èèyàn, the Yorùbá people love orin music and they don't just love music, they have music of their own.

The Yoruba music like other kinds of music is situational, emotional and conditional; ìgbà. The event at hand determines the kind of lyrics for the song, like we have the orin ọdẹ; hunters song, orin ìsìnkú: burial song to mention but a few. 

Let me also add here that the Yorùbá music exposes ìrírí ayé: life experiences; ìbànújẹ́: sadness, ìdùnnú: happiness, ilà í lo: struggles & travails that man face on the surface of ilẹ̀ ọ̀gẹ́rẹ́ afọkọ́ yẹrí: earth.

Full of tales and stories (ìtàn/àlọ́), natural things, animals like ajá: dog, erin: elephant, ìjàpá - turtle etc because of their attitudes and attributes. They are often used symbolically to tell stories about the affairs of men (ìṣe ọmọ ènìn). Òwe: proverbs and adages are used to pass the message across.

Music in Yorùbá  teaches the Yorùbá  cultural heritage (orin Yorùbá  ma ń kọ́ ni láṣà ilẹ̀ẹ wa) with lyrics ranging from ì ọmọlúàbí: morals, ì  burúkú: bad manners and many more. 

These songs  inspires and educates the listener; orin Yorùbá ń kọ́ ni lọ́gbọ́n. It is used to pass-on the Yoruba heritage from generation to generation.

A kò ṣe àwọn orin yìí sórí àwo láyé àtijọ́, àmọ́ àwọn orin ọ̀hún wà lọ́kàn ọmọ ará; though not recorded on plate or some other sort of audio matter at that time, these music are recorded in the minds of the listeners who sings it on even after the singer is long gone.

Generally, in any form of music, the olórin: lead vocalist (singers voice), of paramount importance, is often backed by the elégbè: back up singers who stresses or harmonizes the lyrics. 

Accompanying instruments on the other hand make the sound soothing to the ear. The Yorùbá musical instrumentals are composed using a wide array of traditional instruments; sẹ̀kẹ̀rẹ̀ (shakers), gángan (talking drum), gòjé (Yoruba violin), agogo (bells), àgídìgbo (Yoruba xylophone), fèrè, kàkàkí (flute), aworo (jingle brass bells) and many more to include the modern instruments of today, dùrù; organ etc.

Other musical instruments are used at special occasions and places. The gbẹ̀du drum for instance is used in the (aàfin) ọba's palace to wake the ọba from sleep every morning entertaining him. Another is the agada/àgbá drum used by Ògún worshipers. 

The bàtá drum is a musical instrument of the Ṣàngó followers. 

Bàtá Dance

We also have íkobílo, omele, ewé, kẹ̀rẹ́, iyáàlù, and gúdúgúdú (gúdúgúdú ni bàbá ìlù - gúdúgúdú, the mother of drums)

Unlike the digitally engineered music production of now. The composer/singer makes the song manually. No auto-tune or sound effect is added to the voice or instruments as done in the post-production stage of today. In addition, the music production is usually live and at general gatherings called òde orin: musical outing.

At òde orin's, words of advice; ìmọ̀ràn, criticism, (èébú) insults or scolding are indirectly lashed out to someone at the gathering who had done sometimes wrong; àìe/ì ìbàjẹ́. This words of ìmọ̀ràn is intentional to correct the bad manners of the person.

In Yorùbá land, we have the Sákárà genre, Apàlà, Àgídìgbo, wéré/ajíwéré which became fújì. Also, the Yorùbá people play jù, highlife, afro beat and other new sub-genre of music.

The slavery era; àsìkò ẹrú/ìgbà ẹrú took away most of these genre of music to the new world and beyond. It gave birth to new school of music like spoken words, rap which is similar to the Yoruba's ewì poetry

Do you play any of the Yoruba instruments? What other Yoruba music and instrument do you know?

Listen to what the Yoruba music sound like HERE and Yorùbá drums

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