Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Ugandan Madinda Masters

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Learning from Master Musicians in Uganda

Steve Charles - Kyle Prifogle ’09 is traveling to Kampala, Uganda with Professor of Music James Makubuya to take lessons on the madinda (log xylophone) from the same masters of that instrument who launched Makubuya into his career as a performer of East African music.

Prifogle and Makubuya will be posting to this blog throughout their trip.

It’s an extraordinary opportunity for Prifogle—an accomplished classical musician and winner of the College’s Louis Catuogno Prize in Piano—and he’s prepared to make the most of it. In addition to playing the madinda for two years in Wamidan, the College’s world music ensemble, Kyle has been learning luganda, the language spoken in the places he and Professor Makubuya will be visiting.

While the sights and sounds of Uganda will be new to Prifogle, the trip is a homecoming for Makubuya. Born in Uganda and earning his bachelor’s degree at Makerere University in Kampala, Makubuya was studying Western music and directing the choir there when he re-discovered the instruments and music of his homeland and began incorporating them into his own repertoire as he traveled to villages to learn from the musicians who still played them.

Even as he earned his master’s degree from Catholic University and doctorate at UCLA, Makubuya became a virtuoso on instruments such as the adungu (harp), madinda, akogo (thumb piano), endingidi (one-string fiddle), and particularly, the endongo (8-string lyre). Makubuya’s performances have taken him around the world, from a choral performance for Pope John Paul II at the Vatican to a one-man show at Carnegie Hall.

But Makubuya is quick to point out that the players he will be introducing Kyle to are the “true virtuosos of the madinda.”

So as Kyle learns from these musical masters for three weeks, the professor will be retracing his own steps from Western music to the music of his homeland. Their paths will converge in the music, and they’ll be photographing, videotaping, and writing about the experience for the Wabash community.


Hi Kyle and Dr. Makubuya
I heard you are safely at you destination. I'm waiting for some exciting news about the trip. We are all thinking about you both and I know you will learn so much and have so much to share. Mom

Kyle, ndugu -
Jambo! Do you realize you are geographically closer to me than anyone else in the family? Weird. Have fun. Be careful. Keep aware of your surrondings and have fun for me :)


Hi Kyle, from your Portland piano teacher. Just to tell you how proud I am of you for all your accomplishments.
Wanda Hall