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Know your instruments: The language of music in Northern Nigeria

Let's take a look at the variety of instruments used in Hausa films, cultural festivals, carnivals and special occasions.

Through the evolution of empires, religions, colonization and trade, the language of music in Hausa land has changed over the centuries. Some instruments and sounds were heavily influenced by Arabs and foreigners and the locals decided to adapt them to form their own unique sounds. These sounds of the north are also reflected in music from the Gambia, Mali, Ghana, Niger, Senegal and many other West African countries.

These five instruments are some of the most popular instruments used to make music in Hausaland.

1. Kakaaki

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The Kakaaki is a very popular trumpet used during the major festivals like the Durbar. It is a wind instrument characterised by its long length, usually three or four meters long. The sound of Kakaaki is associated with royalty and it is only played at events at the palace of the king or sultan in Hausa societies. In Hausa land, only men are permitted to play this instrument.

2. Goje/Goge

The Goje is a stringed fiddle resembling the guitar made out of lizard skin over a gourd bowl, and horse hair string suspended over the bridge. It brings a multiphonic sound.

3. Kalangu

Kalangu, or talking drum, is used differently than in the language of music in Yoruba land. To the Yoruba people, the talking drum can sing praises and chants with intended messages, while the hausa people only use the Kalangu to make deeper pitch for their music and create a more rhythmic tune.

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4. Kora

The Kora is a large stringed instrument made up of 21 strings are placed on a gourd covered with skin/hide of an animal. It is also used by the people in Senegal, the Gambia, and Mali.

5. Drum

This sakara drum is used by both the Yoruba and Hausa people of Nigeria. It is a shallow drum with a circular body, with goat or cow skin, the smallest in the set of bata drums, but mostly used alone for hausa music.

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