Igbo Music

Igbo music (Egwu nkwa ndi Igbo) is the music of the Igbo people, who are indigenous to the southeastern part of Nigeria. The Igbo traditionally rely heavily on percussion instruments such as the drum and the gong, which are popular because of their innate ability to provide a diverse array of tempo, sound, and pitch.

Igbo music is generally lively, upbeat, and spontaneous which creates a variety of sounds that enables the Igbo people to incorporate music into almost all the facets of their daily lives. Some very popular Igbo music styles are Igbo highlife, Igbo rap, and Odumodu.

Traditionally music in Igboland has been used to enhance celebrations, such as during the New Year, weddings, birthday parties, childbirth and naming ceremonies; to bring about a historically sacred ambiance at church services, funerals, and eulogies, for pleasure; such as when lullabies are sung by parents to their children; for sports and labour; and to guide historians as they recount stories.
Musical Instruments include:

The Udu Drum

im udu or pot drum

Slit Drum (Ekwe)

im slit drum


im gong

These instruments are another important part of Igbo music. While not as important as the drum, these instruments do provide much needed rhythm and accompaniment.

The most prominent gongs are the Olu and the Ogene. The Olu is a large gong, about four feet long. The Ogene is a smaller gong and is about eight inches long. The Olu and Ogene are played by rhythmically beating the base of these instruments in cadence with the rest of the ensemble.

The Ogene is used mostly for complimenting drums and other percussion instruments. It is also very useful in helping dancers time their movements and gestures. The Olu produces a very distinct sound and is mostly used to warn the community of any danger or as a call for attention in case of an important announcement.

Other instruments include a woodblock known as Okpola, a wind instrument similar to the flute, called an Oja and the Ichaka. The Igbo also have a style of music called Ikorodo, which is when all the musical instruments are played together with vocal accompaniment.