Classification of Igbo musical instruments, Nigeria


  • Joy N. Lo-Bamijoko Department of Music, University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos



The major task of this study is to place indigenous instruments in an indigenous framework. The lists of musical instruments presented here do not pretend to cover the wide variations of all Nigerian musical instruments. Rather, the purpose of the survey is to give a broad overview of Igbo musical instruments, as well as to show how musical instruments of some of the other cultures of Nigeria relate to those of the Igbos, and how they relate to the classification of musical instruments as a whole. In Nigeria, and specifically among the Igbo-speaking people, the classification of musical instruments takes two factors into consideration. The first focuses on the instrument per se, the second on the society in which the instrument is used. The first factor, in other words, deals with the classification of the instruments based upon how they are played, and the second with the various functions of the instruments in the indigenous context.


W. W.C. Echezona. Ibo Musical Instruments in Ibo Culture. Ph.D. Diss. (Michigan State University, 1963)

G.T. Basden. Niger Ibos (London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., 1938) 358.

G.T. Basden. Among the Ibos of Nigeria (London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., 1921) 187.

Mary Kingsley. West African Studies (London: Macmillan, 1899) 65.

P.A. Talbot, Peoples of Southern Nigeria (London: OUP, 1962) 811.

A.M. Jones, Africa and Indonesia: The evidence of the xylophone and other musical and cultural factors (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1964).

Northcote Witridge Thomas, Anthropological Report on the Ibo-speaking peoples of Nigeria (1913-14) 136.

Curt Sachs, The History of Musical Instruments (New York: Norton, 1940) 455.

Curt Sachs, The History of Musical Instruments. 54. 25. Ed: Talbot’s description seems to refer to a harp, rather than a pluriarc.




How to Cite

Lo-Bamijoko, Joy N. 1987. “Classification of Igbo Musical Instruments, Nigeria”. African Music : Journal of the International Library of African Music 6 (4):19-41.