folk instruments world music

Unusual Instruments: Adungu

Welcome to the Ugandan bow-harp!

One of my favourite instrument shops in America that I pour over online without ever attempting to import into the UK is Lark in the Morning. They specialise in instruments from around the world and so I often find interesting instruments I’ve never heard of before. Don’t worry, this isn’t a sponsored post, it is a genuine thing I do (I use Hobgoblin in the UK for most of my folk instrument impulses). Their recent newsletter included a section on the Adungu – the Ugandan rhythm harp. Off I went on a YouTube deep dive!

Often containing 9 strings for a beginner, it has a warm sound that reminds me of a cross between a smaller Irish harp and a Kora. It doesn’t have a huge soundbox so it doesn’t give you deep resonance but that means it sounds chirpier than other harp instruments. It sounds perfect for lazy folksongs and gentle melodies. Another thing that I found fascinating is that Ugandan tutors Shina and Bernard describe chords as numbers, not letters. Below are some of Shina and Bernard’s tutorials for understanding how the Adungu is put together and how you’d get started. I’m not able to embed the first video due to uploader restrictions.

Learning to Adungu and playing three chords.

What a versatile and lovely instrument!

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