INSIDE LIFE Art & Culture Ilu Agidigbo The Metamorphic Piano

Ilu Agidigbo The Metamorphic Piano

Image Source: “Digitized archival resources provided courtesy of the Rockefeller Archive Center”

Music Research project for the University of Ibadan, Department of African Studies at Mowolowo Village in Ogbomosho, Oyo State.

Image Source: “Digitized archival resources provided courtesy of the Rockefeller Archive Center”
A young man on this picture is seen playing an “Agidigbo” instrument.
The agidigbo is a large traditional plucked lamellophone used by the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Its appearance is piano-like; a rope is worn round the neck of the player who then supports or braces the instrument, whose body is a rectangular wooden box, by his chest or thoracic region. The player wears a thick “ring,” usually a bottle neck, on his thumb, which he uses to tap the sides of the wooden box. He then uses his ten fingers to pluck the instrument’s metal tongues, producing very sonorous tones, as he accompanies a sekere, or waka or an apala band.

The instrument is most popular in the Ibadan and Ijebu areas of Yoruba land.

Babatunde Olatunji famously plays an agidigbo on “Oyin Momo Ado” (Sweet as Honey), which is track 7 on his 1959 Drums of Passion album.

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