Music and Tonal Communication: Decoding and Conserving the Agidigbo Instrument in Apala Music
The Agidigbo is a major melo-rhythmic instrument of the Apala music, used by Yoruba musicians to achieve speech surrogate due to the tonal inflection of the Yoruba language. While it is somewhat easier in Yoruba vocal music to employ the three phonemic tones - low, mid and high for word intelligibility, the musicians must however adapt these tones in playing the melo-rhythmic instruments for adequate communication. This is because among Africans, there is often a tonal communication relished between the musicians and the listeners. While literature abounds on tonal communication in Yoruba music, with overt concentration on the talking drums, there is paucity of academic research on the tonal communication of the Agidigbo. This study thus examines the communicative attributes of the Agidigbo, with musical and contextual analysis of its decoded communications. Oral interviews and bibliographical evidences were used to elicit information. Content analysis was used to process the musical and tonal data generated in the Agidigbo music. This study establishes that although Yoruba musicians are entertainers, they are also regarded as custodians of moral law and habitually encode messages in their music, with its decoding entrusted to their enlightened faithfuls. This is evident in the Agidigbo, an instrument particularly used by the Yoruba people for musical, socio-cultural and linguistic communication. Significantly, this study aids the understanding and decoding of this indigenous instrumental heritage. This paper thus argues for more musicological research on this communicative instrument towards its globalization and conservation.