Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Ugandan Madinda Masters

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Meeting My Teacher and My First Lesson

Thursday May 22 - Dr. Makubuya tells me that the hotel we have is really nice for Uganda. I can see what he is saying. While the room is just barely big enough for me to move around in, the bed is very large (a double), it has mosquito netting and the shower is hot—all things that are somewhat uncommon. And even though there is just one electrical plug in, there is always power, Im guessing the hotel has a power inverter. All these go to say the hotel is pretty nice. I had a hot shower this morning, then we zipped off to Kyambogo University to meet my first teacher.

Mr. Ssebuwufu has the air of a true muse. He is probably the happiest and nicest man I have ever met in my life. I started off playing a tune for him so that he knew my skill level and then immediately we started learning madinda style songs. The first was called Twamusanga, and was very simple. I will not do this very often because it makes for a very long blog, but I want to give the notation I have written in my notes for the madinda song so you have an idea of what it is I am studying.

First, you have to know, that for the madinda style of playing there are three musicians on one instrument. The first is called the omunazi. or "the starter". He starts by playing a simple melody in octaves on the xylphone. The second player is called the omwawuzi or the “mixer.” He starts the real music by playing (also in octaves) a different tune in between the first players' notes. When the two players tunes mix, suddenly you have the madinda melody.† The the final player is the omukoonezi, or the “hitter.” This player only plays two notes at the top of the madinda, and in doing so he emphasizes the main part of the melody.

Here is the song as I have written it in my notes:

Omw: 1 1 2 3 1 1 4 4

Omn:   1 5 1 5 1  5 1 4

Omk: 12221   12221

Be twamusanga la sera be twamusanga-“A sleepwalking person”

I will provide the sound recording for this piece later so you can here how it sounds.

We also learned song Enyana ekutudde which means, “the calf has broken loose.”