The talking drums of the Yoruba

  • Ulli Beier University College Ibadan, Nigeria
Keywords: Talking drum -- Nigeria, Yoruba (African people) -- Music, Laudatory poetry, African, Musical instruments -- Nigeria


The most common type of Talking Drum among the Yoruba is called Dundun (see Plate I). Europeans sometimes refer to it as an hourglass-drum, because of its shape. It has two membranes, of which only one is beaten, however. The leather strings connecting the membranes are gripped by the drummers left hand, and by tightening them, he can raise the pitch of the drum. There are many kinds of Dundun drums, but the most important one is called Lya-Ilu (mother of the drums) which has a range of about an octave - the exact range depending on the strength of the drummer.

Author Biography

Ulli Beier, University College Ibadan, Nigeria
Regional Tutor in the Department of Extra-Mural Studies.
How to Cite
Beier, U. “The Talking Drums of the Yoruba”. African Music: Journal of the International Library of African Music, Vol. 1, no. 1, Dec. 1954, pp. 29-31, doi: