The drum is the most important musical instrument for us – Igbos. This instrument is extensively used during celebrations, rites of passage, funerals, war, town meetings and an array of other events.
Since this instrument is so diverse, many types of drums have been crafted and perfected over the years. The main kinds of drum used in present day Igboland are Udu and Igba.
The Udu (Pottery-drum) is a sphere shape made of clay, with a hollow inside and a small round open mouth. The primary function of Udu is to produce musical bass. The artist accomplishes this by taping the open mouth with a round and flat object.
The Udu is also used as a safe, and is the first storage container used by us – the Igbos to store water, palm oil, or to preserve produce. Due to its fragile nature, other sturdier containers like plastics had replaced it as a storage facility. It continues to serve as the best source for musical bass.
The Igba (Cylinder-drum) is a piece of hollow wood covered at one end with animal hide held down tight with fasteners. The artist carries it over his shoulder with the help of a shoulder strap. The artist produces the sound by beating on the animal hide with his fingers or combination of one set of fingers and a special stick.
The cylinder-drum accompanies dances, songs, religious and secular ceremonies, and its tunes have been known to gave special signals for good news as well as bad news.