a dzura ta Hëndlë
ptm danced they Hëndlë
They danced at the bull festival

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In this section we introduce the music of Sukur, focusing on the instruments played and, to a lesser extent, on music sung without instruments or with minimal instrumental accompaniment. It will immediately be apparent that we are not musicologists; nor did we set out to capture the full repertoire of Sukur's music. We did however make audio recordings as time allowed and occasion demanded and it is these recordings that are sampled below. There is a great deal more material in ND's 18 hours of video recordings, but we have not as yet begun to mine this source for its musical content.

To our ignorant ears Sukur music seems less varied than that of the neighboring Higi. For example there are no stringed instruments (chordophones). It is on Higi musicians of the blacksmith-potter caste that Sukur call when there are important ceremonies, especially the funerary celebrations (riin) held weeks or months after the burial of an elder man or woman. There are, on the other hand, numerous wind instruments (aerophones), several drums (membranophones) and also idiophones such as rattles. Sukur ensembles suggest that their music is basically pentatonic and similar to the scales used by the Ouldeme (Roger Blench pers. comm. 2004). Two forms strike us as particularly notable and beautiful: the kwatarza flute music - heard as you are welcomed to this site - played especially around the time of initiation, and the dirges sung by male choirs at funerals. Examples are given below.

We thank Roger Blench who collected a list of instruments during our first visit to Sukur in 1991. For comparative information refer to;

Gauthier's (1969) monograph on the (Adamawa-speaking) Fali who live north of Garoua which includes a well-described instrumentarium very similar to that of Sukur,

Wente-Lukas's (1977) chapter on the musical instruments of the non-Islamic peoples of northern Cameroon and northeast Nigeria,

to Fernando's (1999) thesis and disc on Ouldeme music, and more generally to

Christo van Rensburg's web site on African musical instruments and to the BBC's pages.

Be warned that the audioclips (in MP3 format and played by whatever plug-in you use) open in a new window. You may need to adjust your browser settings to allow the clips to run. After playing, click on the Back button to return to the page you were reading.

To reduce download time we have divided the material into four files:

Musical Instruments

      I. Aerophones      II Membranophones      and     III. Idiophones




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