Home African communication system i THE CONCEPT OF INSTRUMENTAL COMMUNICATION

THE CONCEPT OF INSTRUMENTAL COMMUNICATION

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1.0 INTRODUCTION

This unit focuses on instrumental communication. Just as instruments are used for communication modern societies, they have been in use in Africa since the primordial time. So, a study of African communication systems, should take a look at instrumental communication devices.

2.0 OBJECTIVES

At the end of this unit of study, students should be able to:

  1. outline the various groups of instrumental communication devices 
  2. list the types of instrumental communication devices drawing examples from what obtains in their cultures and communities 
  3. discuss the communication functions of various instrumental communication devices listed. 

3.0 MAIN CONTENT

3.1 What Is Instrumental Communication?

Instrumental devices are part of items used for communication in traditional African society. Ibagere (1994) refers to it as the hardware of music. Every group of people in Africa has instrumental devices that are peculiar to their setting and perform different communication functions. Such instruments may be totally different from those used by other people or they have special meanings as used by people in other cultures. It is hoped that after studying this unit, you would have become familiar with some instrumental devices used for communication in Africa.

3.2 Types of Instrumental Communication Devices and Examples

Scholes (1938) writing on instrumentals stated that instruments could be generally divided into instruments of definite pitch and instruments of indefinite pitch. Instrument of definite pitch include kettle drum, bells, celesta, xylophone, gong etcetera, while instrument of indefinite pitch include side drum or snare drum, tenor drum, bass drum, tambourine, cymbals, rattle, anvil, etcetera.
However, scholars of African communication systems divided instruments into more than two groups. According to Akpabio (2003), there are mainly three groups of instrumental communication devices. What Wilson (1998) added to make it four (symbolography) to Akpabio (2003) is grouped under iconographic communication:
a) Idiophones – examples

  1. Wooden drum 
  2. Woodblock (Such as Ekele, Oponda and Uneh found in Delta State of Nigeria). 
  3. Ritual rattles 
  4. Bell 
  5. Metal gong (such as akankang and ekere found in Akwa-Ibom and Cross River States of Nigeria) 
  6. Xylophone ‘
  7. Hand shakers 
  8. Pot drum

b) Membranephones – example

  1. Skin drum 

c) Aerophones – examples

  1. Whistle 
  2. Deer horn 
  3. Ivory tusk 
  4. Reed pipe etc. 

3.3 The Communication Functions and Characteristics of Instrumental Communication Devices

Although much has been said about instrumental system of communication, yet it would be essential to emphasise their other roles. All instruments and appliances employed in traditional channels of communication are always brief and tautological in their information dissemination, orders and warnings e.g. no, no; yes, yes; stop, stop; not now, not now; come together, come together; etc (Akpabio, 2003). It is also used during burial ceremonies and cleansing rites. These are treated in details in the next four chapters.

4.0CONCLUSION

This unit concludes that instrumental communication has been in use since the primordial period in Africa.

5.0 SUMMARY

The concept of instrumental communication was examined, types, outlined; communication functions, highlighted; and characteristics discussed.

SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE

List the types of instrumental communication discussed in this unit.

6.0 TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT

  1. Outline two types of instrumental communication. 
  2. Drawing from what obtains in your culture, list ten examples of instrumental communication devices. 

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