Humanities Role of Music Essay

Pages: 5 (1472 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Music


Most of the drums are made from wood while some can also be clay pots or shells of turtles.

Drums are not only used for composing music but they have several uses. For instance, Africans use talking drums to announce the news of birth of a child, death of a person or information about any public event. Interesting thing about these drums is that some of the drums can produce such a loud sound that it can be heard by the people that are at a distance of seven miles. Therefore, Africans also use these drums for long distance communications. Before the invention of telephone, Africans used drums to communicate their messages, emotions and feelings.

Keeping in mind the traditional values and beliefs, Africans make these talking drums from a special tree which is planted at the sides of foot paths where people walk. They believe that because these trees keep hearing talk of people, so they have ability to "speak" and communicate messages in a better way than the forest trees.


The African xylophone is made of wood, gourds and vines. In some of the African areas, this instrument is considered very important as it is used to convey the message of someone's death. Xylophones are constantly played in the grieving hours and during the funeral.

Thumb Piano/Finger Piano

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Thumb Piano is also a very famous musical instrument of Africa. It has several names and it can be found in all parts of the Africa. The number of keys can be from 3 to 36 keys. The maker (player) can move, sit or stand at the time of playing thumb piano. This instrument is also called in Africa as "the walker's friend" due to the reason that a lonely person or traveler can enjoy his time playing it while walking through the road or forest.


Bells are an important part of the African's orchestra's rhythm and accompany the dancing audience. They are also rung before the entrance of a king or a senior chief into the public or when a judge is about to announce the court decisio

Shakers and Rattles

TOPIC: Essay on Humanities Role of Music in Assignment

There are different shaking musical instruments used in Africa with different names. Mostly women shake these instruments to make the sound of the rhythm. Rattle also has a strong connection with the historical rhythms of African music. Dancers wear rattles on their body in the form of belts on the waist, calf or ankle bracelets and even as necklaces. It is also believed by the Africans that these rattles help in curing the disease of the sick and keep the people safe from dangerous spirits that cause misfortunes in life.


This is one of the main stringed instruments in African culture. Harps are considered as the quite instruments used by the poet, story teller or a singer. Harps have a history of at least 5000 years in Africa and are even used today on the south of Sahara Desert.

Wind Instruments

Instruments which African people play by blowing are flutes, trumpets, horns and whistles which are commonly called wind instruments. These are usually made from wood but sometimes also from sea shells and tusk of elephants.

These wind instruments are not only important musical instruments for the celebrations and entertainment but some of the horns and trumpets are also used to inform people about the emergency situations, encourage fighters to be strong, warn about the presence of king and help people of villages to settle their disputes.

This paper highlighted only some of the famous musical instruments of Africa but there are several more. The interest of African people in the music is evident from their use of these instruments in all aspects of life. Whether the occasions are happy or sad, weddings or funerals, announcements of king or decision of the judges; music has its role at all places. Not limited to this, the political activities and even the religious gatherings have music involvement which shows the significance of music in the life of African people.


Agordoh, A. (2005). African Music. Traditional and Contemporary. Nova Science Publishers

Inc. New York. USA

Ammons, M. (2003). Musical Instruments of the World. Mark Twain Media/Carson Dellosa

Publishing Company, Inc.

Barber, K. (1997). Introduction. Readings in African Popular Culture. Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, Oxford: James Currey, pp. 1-12.

McBurney, M. (1969). The Haua Fteah (Cyrenaica) and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Humanities Role of Music" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Humanities Role of Music.  (2013, June 21).  Retrieved August 2, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Humanities Role of Music."  21 June 2013.  Web.  2 August 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Humanities Role of Music."  June 21, 2013.  Accessed August 2, 2021.