Names of Igbo Traditional Musical Instruments

The Igbo traditional musical instruments are musical tools that add harmony and melody to songs; giving them a sense of pleasantness to the hearing of the audience.

A musical instrument is a device created or adapted to make musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can be considered a musical.
The Igbo people have a melodic music style into which they incorporate various percussion instruments.

The most widespread instrument is the 13-stringed zither, called an obo. The Igbo also play slit drums, xylophones, flutes, lyres, udus and lutes, and more recently, imported European brass instruments. Courtly music is played among the more traditional Igbo, maintaining their royal traditions.

This piece tends to reveal the names of Igbo traditional musical instruments

Igbo Traditional Musical Instruments

1. Okike

Okike is one of the Igbo traditional musical instruments. It is the most prominent and classy and rare Igbo musical instrument. The Okike is made out of an elephant tusk and it is used mainly by an ozo or Nze.

Ikike is only used on an occasion that symbolizes wealth and power. It is used during installations into Ọzọ or Nze title ships, Ofala and major festivals. Also, see popular traditional dances in Nigeria.

2. Ikoro

An Ikoro is a musical instrument created and used by the Igbo of Nigeria. It is a slit drum that is beaten with a stick or sticks and can be used in some parts of Igbo land for communicating, similar to a talking drum.

In Igbo land, Ikoro brings a sense of urgency and can not be beaten by everybody. Any time the Ikoro sound must be heard people gather at the village square. As soon as it sounds, people around assume that any of the following has happened: land has been defiled, there is an outbreak of war, a calamity has befallen the community etc.

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3. Ichaka

Made out of a calabash or gourd, Ichaka is one of the Igbo traditional musical instruments. The sound it produces is due to beads sewn to a net around the instrument. Ichaka is a traditional Igbo musical instrument which rattles when played.

When tapped or shaken it produces a rattling sound to complement other instruments; The music produced sounds a bit like a maraca when it’s made from the seeds of the gourd. These plastic beads are a lot louder.

4. Udu

The udu drum originated from the Igbo people of Nigeria. Udu Drum. Unlike other percussion instruments, the udu drum was invented and developed by the women of the Igbo people from clay pots. Udu means pot in Igbo. These clay pots are used to carry and store water from the river to their homes.

It can deep sound or a short clap-like sound. The udu drum is played by tapping, and moving hands over the hole. The hands and fingers over and away from the hole produce different sounds. The most important part of the udu drum is the side hole.

In the Igbo language, ùdù means ‘vessel’. Being a water jug with an additional hole, it was played by Igbo women for ceremonial uses. Usually, the udu is made of clay.

5. Oja

Oja is also one of the Igbo musical instruments. The sound energizes the weak and calls up the very aged to jump up in tune with the melodies.
The other vital instrument of Ogene music and Igbo culture is the oja, a high-pitched handheld carved wooden whistle used for speech surrogacy and rapid-fire melodic interjection.

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The Oja flute or pipe hails from eastern Nigeria and is often used with other drugs such as Ekwe, Udu and Igba. This unique whistle talks while the drummers are playing. During the masquerade dancing in eastern Nigeria, the Oja flute will lead the drums and praise the music and dance.

Ọja is a wooden flute, indigenous to the Igbo people of eastern Nigeria. Its usage is vast, and in most cases, it is used in dramatic performances to create suspense.

6. Igba

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. This apparatus is one of the Igbo traditional musical instruments.

Igba is a tom-tom that has a beating surface of the same approximate diameter as a bongo. An Igba may be as small as seven inches, or as tall as three feet. Traditionally, the deeper-shelled igba is played with the hand, while the shorter drums are played with a curved stick.

7. Ekwe or slіt-drum

An Ekwe is an Igbo traditional musical instrument. The ekwe is a type of drum with rectangular cavity ‘slits’ in the hollowed-out wooden interior. The ekwe is made out of wood and most commonly a tree trunk.

To play the Ekwe, the artist will need to use sticks. These were traditionally created using wood. It can also be played by hand but would require endurance and a high pain threshold to beat a wooden drum hard enough to echo sound.

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8. Ogene

Ogene is the most important piece of the metal instrument in Igbo music. Ogene was originally made from bronze but is now made from common metals in recent times. Ogene is well known as one of the Igbo traditional musical instruments.

The Ogene is a type of bell, commonly used as a “master instrument” in a band in Igboland. As an instrument, ogene is forged by blacksmiths who can still be found in Awka. It is the most important of an array of Igbo musical instruments.

The Ogene is skilfully beaten to generate distinctive sounds ranging from sharply percussive clanks to deep, resonant notes. Interestingly, the Ogene instrument serves a lot of functions in the traditional Igbo society away from music.

The Ogene instrument has historically been made by the Igbo people of Nigeria. It is one of the most important metal instruments for people. Ogene is a style of Igbo music consisting of, and taking its name from, the ogene instrument, which is a large metal bell.


This article seeks to give you an overview of a few instruments of the Igbo culture and setting that speak on their own. If you find this piece helpful, do well to share.

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