• Rémy Jadinon Africa Museum, Tervuren, Belgium




Acholi music, digital, electronic music, festivals, social networks, tradition, Uganda


This article examines the historical and sociological processes that led to the electronification of traditional Acholi musical repertoires in the northern region of Uganda. Akena P’Layeng Okella, also known as Leo Palayeng, is presented as a leading figure in this transformation of traditional music to electronic music, which has become known as Acholitronix. Palayeng is also my main interlocutor. Through Palayeng’s biography, the influence of digital technology in the production, distribution, and reception of musical traditions is discussed. The new, digitised repertoire was first integrated into wedding ceremonies, and then played in bars and clubs in the city. It finally reached the international, alternative electronic club scene. This process of transformation in the repertoire is part of a long history of local and international musical influences in Uganda. The extent to which information and communication technologies have played a decisive role in the dissemination of musical genres, the adoption or adaptation of musical instruments and techniques, and the creation of local, national, or even pan-African musical identities since the 1980s, is described in the article. The place that these forms of digital musical traditions have on online platforms is also discussed. Based on these observations, the contours of the transformation and switch from the acoustic to the electronic – while being considered by the actors as being the same music – are described.

Author Biography

Rémy Jadinon, Africa Museum, Tervuren, Belgium

Rémy Jadinon works in the field of African music, at the interface of anthropology and musicology. Since 2011 he has been working at the Africa Museum in Tervuren (Belgium), where he documents the musicological collections from Central Africa. In 2017, he achieved his PhD at the ULB University (Brussels). His research is mostly about the contemporary aspect of traditional music and their transformation processes. He has conducted research on popularisation of traditional religious music in Gabon, but also on “festivalisation” and “electronisation” processes in central and East Africa. He pays particular attention to the use of digital technologies in the circulation and promotion of traditional music.


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How to Cite

Jadinon, Rémy. 2023. “LEO PALAYENG: BRIDGING THE GAP FROM TRADITIONAL TO ELECTRONIC ACHOLI MUSIC”. African Music : Journal of the International Library of African Music 11 (4):90-106. https://doi.org/10.21504/amj.v11i4.2459.