Composition techniques in Kiganda xylophone music: with an introduction into some Kiganda musical concepts


  • Gerhard Kubik Musicologist with extensive experience in African music, in West, Central and Southern Africa



Xylophone music -- Uganda, Ganda (African people) -- Music, Ethnomusicology -- Uganda


The impression that distinct and sophisticated composition rules are at work in Kiganda music is sustained by a number of observations. The field researcher in Uganda may be struck by the fact that an expert amadinda player can usually reconstruct the second part (okwawula) of a tune, if he is given the first part (okunaga), provided he knows the melody of the vocal theme inherent in the instrumental pattern. Though traditional musicians in Uganda cultivate an excellent memory, it may happen to anyone that parts of a musical piece slip the mind temporarily.


ANKERMANN, B. 1901: "Die afrikanischen Musikinstrumente", Ethnologisches Notizblatt, Bd. 3, Heft 1, Berlin.
ANDERSON, LOIS, 1967: "The African xylophone", African Arts/Arts d'Afriçue, No. 1, Autumn, 1967.
BLACKING, JOHN, 1965: "Music in Uganda", African Music, Vol. 3, No. 4.
BOONE, OLGA, 1936: Les Xylophones du Congo Belge, Annales du Musée du Congo Belge, Tervueren.
BRANDEL, ROSE, 1961: The Music of Central Africa, The Hague.
DAUER, ALFONS M., 1966: "Musiklandschaften in Afrika", Sonderbeilage zur Zeitschrift Afrika Heute, No. 23.
JOHNSTON, SIR HARRY, 1902: The Uganda Protectorate, Vol. I and II.
JONES, Rev. A. M., 1949: African Music in Northern Rhodesia and some other places, Rhodes-Livingstone Museum, Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia.
-1960: "Indonesia and Africa", The Xylophone as a Culture-Indicator, African Music, Vol. 2, No. 3.
-1964: Africa and Indonesia. The Evidence of the Xylophone and other musical and cultural factors, Leiden.
SIR APOLO KAGGWA, 1905: Ekitabo Kye Mpisa Za Baganda.
-1908: Ekitabo Kye Bika Bya Baganda.
-1927: Ekitabo Kya Basekabaka, 3rd edition.
KUBIK, G., 1960: "The Structure of Kiganda Xylophone Music", African Music, Vol. 2, No. 3.
-1961: "Musikgestaltung in Afrika", Neues Afrika, Heft 5.
-1962a: "The Phenomenon of Inherent Rhythms in East and Central African Instrumental Music", African Music, Vol. 3, No. 1.
-1962b: Review of Rose Brandel: "The Music of Central Africa", African Music, Vol. 3, No. 1.
-1964: "Xylophone Playing in Southern Uganda", Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 94, Part II.
-1966: "Music in Uganda - a Synopsis", Afrika, Vol. VII, No. 6.
-1966 67: "Ennanga Music", African Music, Vol. 4, No. 1.
-1968: Mehrstimmigkeit und Tonsysteme in Zentral- und Ostafrika, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Sitzungsberichte, 254, Band 4, Abhandlung, Wien.
-1969: "Aufbau und Struktur der Amadinda-Musik von Buganda" in: Festschrift Walter Graf zum 65. Geburtstag, in the press.
KYAGAMBIDDWA, JOSEPH, 1955: African Music from the Source of the Nile, New York.
LUSH, A. J., 1935: "Kiganda Drums", Uganda Journal, Vol. III, No. 1.
ROSCOE, JOHN, 1911: "The Baganda", London.
SERWADDA, MOSES and PANTALEONI, HEWITT, 1968: "A possible notation for African Dance Drumming", African Music, Vol. 4, No. 2.
TRACEY, ANDREW, 1961: "Mbira Music of Jege A Tapera", African Music, Vol. 2, No. 4.
TRACEY, HUGH, 1951: "Recording Tour, May to November, 1950, East Africa", African Music Society Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 4.
1953: "Recording in East Africa and Northern Congo", African Music Society News- letter, Vol. 1, No. 6.
TROWELL, MARGARET and WACHSMANN, K. P., 1953: Tribal Crafts of Uganda, London.
VANSINA, JAN, 1965: Oral Tradition. A Study in Historical Methodology, London.
WACHSMANN, K. P., 1939: "An Approach to African Music", Uganda Journal, No. 3, Vol. VII, Kampala.
-1950: "An Equal-Stepped Tuning in a Ganda Harp", Nature, Vol. 16, p. 40.
-1953a: "A Study of Norms in the Tribal Music of Uganda", Ethnomusicology, Newsletter II.
-1953b: "Musicology in Uganda", Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 83, Part I.
-1954: "The Transplantation of Folk Music from one Social Environment to Another", Journal of the International Folk Music Council, Vol. VI.
-1956a: "Folk Music of Uganda", Uganda Museum Occasional Papers, No. 2, Kampala.
-1956v: REVIEW of J. KYAGAMBIDDWA: "African Music from the Source of the Nile", African Music, Vol. 1, No. 3.
-1964: "Human Migration and African Harps", Journal of the International Folk Music Council, Vol. XVI.
-1965: "Some Speculations concerning a Drum Chime in Buganda", Man, Jan.-Feb. 1965. "Traditional Music in Uganda", in Creating a Wider Interest in Traditional Music, Proceedings. "Musical Instruments in the Kiganda Tradition and Their Place in the East African Scene", in Essays on Music and History in Africa and Asia, edited by K. P. Wachsmann, in the press.




How to Cite

Kubik, Gerhard. 1969. “Composition Techniques in Kiganda Xylophone Music: With an Introduction into Some Kiganda Musical Concepts”. African Music : Journal of the International Library of African Music 4 (3):22-72.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

<< < 1 2 3 4