Instruments in Jamaican music

Jamaican music is an interesting blend of different cultures, having a unique sound that one cannot resist listening to. One factor that contributes to the unique sound of Jamaican music is the use of traditional instruments. Learn about these typical instruments of Jamaican music.

The drum is essential to all types of Jamaican music and it is one of the typical instruments of Jamaican music. The drums used in the country have their ties to Africa, and most of them have goatskin heads. The Kbandu is a large and low pitched drum that is usually played in a 4/4 rhythm with an accent on the first and third beats. A more complicated drum is the Playin Kyas which is smaller and has a higher pitch. This is usually used as the lead drum and the rhythms played are usually syncopated and are complicated thereby requiring enough knowledge from the player. The gumbie is a barrel shaped drum made from pieces of hollow trees and are around 6 feet in length. The goombah is a block of wood that is hollow inside to produce the sound. A rustic drum made from trunks of hollow trees is called goombay, and is covered with sheep or goat skin. Lastly, toombah is made from trumpet tree with three strings that are stretched across.

Percussion devices are also important typical instruments of Jamaican music. The maraca is a percussion instrument made from dried gourd, calabash or coconut shell and is filled with dried beans or seeds. These can also be made of plastic, leather or wood and are usually played in pairs. One has a high pitch and the other has a low pitch, making a great blend of sound when being played. Mbira is a wooden board with attached metal keys and is usually fitted into a resonator. A bass mbira is called rhumba box and it produces a lower pitched sound. Other percussion instruments include triangles, graters and glass bottles.

Some typical instruments of Jamaican instruments are the flute and trumpet. The Coromantee flute was introduced by the Arawaks, the indigenous people in Jamaica. This particular name was derived from the fierce African tribe called Coromantee. There is also a flute that was made from an animal bone. An animal horn was previously used as a trumpet but it is not used as much these days. Moreover, the boompipe is a stamping tube that is a typical instrument of Jamaican music. The sounds are produced by buzzing the lips while blowing into the tube. You can also produce the notes when you stamp one end of the boompipe on the ground.

String instruments are also prominent in Jamaican music. The Aeolian harp is made of a wooden box with a sounding board and is usually played where there is wind. Guitars are also typical instruments of Jamaican music and some of the most commonly used are the fiddles, bangils, banjos and banjars. Jamaicans play their guitars on the upstroke, with a rhythm that is particularly attractive to every listener.

These are the most common typical instruments of Jamaican music. Now that you know them, you can now understand why Jamaican music is so appealing that one can't help but dance to the beat.