We have been told that the oldest human bones were found in Africa, it seems only fitting that we can hypothesize that we feel music must have had its beginning there as well. Maybe it began as crudely as the first language I mean if you are banging on rocks and trees and your buddy hears it and likes it well then he or she may try in some way to mimic the experience and eventually improve on it. We can only speculate on how this may have come about but what we do know from archeological finds and history as well as the instruments used today, that there are five categories of instruments used in North African music that are used today in some variation either with the instruments themselves or in a synthetic replication of the sound.
The Five Categories
- 1. Tuareg Instruments: This is a drum made of animal gut and is the first of the snare drums we have today. It is classified in modern terms as a frame drum.
- 2. Sudanese Instruments: This is a horn but you use your voice as the primary sound in the instrument. This was used to induce a trance like state among the people so the sound is that of chanting.
- 3. Sahrawi instruments: This was the first of what is now a modern day banjo with fishing line strings and raw hide tension straps.
- 4. Moroccan Instruments: This is a hybrid of a bass and a banjo.
- 5. Egyptian Instruments: This is woodwind single-reed instruments that are akin to the modern-day flute.
Walking thru the world famous MIM Music Instrument Museum last year was amazing for me personally as I was able to see, and hear these instruments first hand. As I teach in my historic music showcase The Americana Crossroads Music Tribute, these stringed instruments transformed into out single string diddley bow and ultimately our cigar box guitars from the plantations of the southern US which laid the foundations of our blues and rock and roll as we know it.
Now this is only a small handful in only the historically more populated regions of Africa but this region, from the evidence that we have been shown is the region where most of today’s modern day instruments that are specifically used for playing Delta and jazz were found to have originated.