But there is something unique about Ondo music and it is its variety, the dexterity of the drummers and the elegant dance steps. It is also noteworthy that both the drummers and the audience take active part in the music, while the drummers play their instruments the audience sing and dance. Ondo traditional music includes the following:
1. KUNMBE mdr
2. OJELE ddd
3. ADAN dd
4. OJIGBO ddm
5. LEKOTO mmr
6. UGBAJI drd
7. AGBA DM
Unfortunately today scarcely can we find any of these music types still being played in its original form except Ugbaji which is the Oba’s traditional music and Agba which is the music of Oamufe festival. All the other types have been adulterated or is it modernised into juju music by current young traditional drummers even as they use the traditional drums such as gangan, iyalu (talking drum) and opan. Even Olopade the art master, the most accomplished Ondo traditional drummer of all times had started to modernize his music to fit into choreographed dance steps he had perfected with his young ladies club dancers. Eni koju si ni la a koju si…. Eni k’eyin si ni la a k’eyin si.
I will limit this article in detail to KUNMBE which is the oldest Ondo traditional music greatly cherished by our forefathers and played at all kinds of celebrations and OJELE which can qualify for a second place. The KUNMBE is played with four drums, opan which lays the beat and pattern of the music, the iyalu is the lead drum and it is played by the master drummer who dictates the tempo of the music and communicates with the dancer with his drum. Then we have the two gangan used as accompaniments to fill up the spaces in the music.
The opan plays ta ti ti, ta ti ti, ta ti ti, ta ti ti. One gangan plays konkolo while the other fills up with ta a a ta a a ta a a ta a a. The iyalu plays all the embellishments and communicates with the dancer.
For those who may find this piece rather too technical the easiest way to recognize any type of Ondo music is to listen to the songs which the audience sing to the music.
The following are popular examples of KUMBE music songs
1. Ode wa laelae ode wa o
Dandan jaguda awa lo l’ode
2. Ee si, ee si o
Ee s’onuya n’oman’do o
3. Bi ola bi ola o
Adodo fusi s’eti omi
Luwa m’on fusi s’Ondo
Ola ti b’okan w’aye o ee
4. Akiko oju man m’aila mon ye, akiko
Oju man man o Gbanenjoke
Akiko oju man m’aila mon ye
5. Ogun ja ni kaikaitika mmrm
Ogun ja ni katkaitika ddrd
Ogun ja ni Magbo n’Igbado
Ogun ja ni Sokoti Akue
Agbagba man yo’en lowo ja n’onganjo o ba wa.
6. Ugba uli o man mun s’oge
Awo uli o man mun s’eyan
Abatabutu aso bam’en lo
Man mun s’oge n’uli o
Man mun s’oge man mun s’eyan
Man mun s’oge n’uli o
OJELE is a solemn and highly rhythmic type of music very easy to dance to and features melodious songs of the usual solo and chorus types. The OJELE music is played with four or five drums, opan and a bass drum which both lay the beat and pattern of the music, the iyalu which is the lead drum and played by the master drummer, dictates the tempo of the music. Then we have the two gangan used as accompaniments to fill up the spaces in the music. The beat goes like this: di di di didi, di di di didi or di di di didi didi di di di didi didi played by the bass drum while the opan plays: tata tata titi, tata tata titi
The OJELE music like the KUNMBE is played at all kinds of celebrations. OJELE music features the following songs among others:
1. Solo: Ojigbo maa lu mi o maa l’onen mon nen
Chorus: Eeee oye o ‘JIGBO
2. Solo: Onen ba mi n’onan in ki men se o oman mi mon duo de ded’i lo o
Chorus: Onen ba mi n’onan in ki men se o oman mi mon duo de ded’i lo o
3. Solo: Oman l’ayegbe aye maa gwo o, maa gwo t’emi manm’owo maa di t’emi ja uya
Chorus: Oman l’ayegbe aye maa gwo o
4. Solo: Odu baba aso Adetola wo da fi we man o
Chorus: Odu baba aso
Solo: Akensade wo da fi we man o
Chris: Odu baba aso
Solo: Kenfemiwa wo da fi we man o
Chorus: Odu baba aso
5. Solo: Ebiba bai lo da. Bai lo da ghun ‘baloman o digbose
Chorus: Ebiba bai lo da
Bai lo da ghun ‘baloman o digbose
The beauty and sophistication of Ondo music and dance are well manifested in the melodious rendition of their songs which are most times effortlessly harmonized into two parts, the rhythm of the music played solely on membranophones as well as the rhythmical elegant dance steps. Let me also mention in passing the following other types of Ondo music:
ADAN is not as old as KUNMBE and OJELE and the younger generation finds it easier to dance to. ADAN songs are very philosophical and often sandwitched with recitations.
1. A gh’oman o oman gb’onen n’uyi o j’aso a gn’oman oo. Pekepeke men manle g’Okebaike. A gh’oman o……
UGBAJI is the Oba’s dance it is played for the Oba every morning when the Oba’s drummers call at the palace and also during the Oba’s festival.
AGBA is Oamufe music and it is solely reserved for Oamufe festival. The musicians during this festival which is celebrated in the night enjoy the liberty to admonish all kinds of indecent behaviors in the community without respect to persons.
Uwa e fu d’e gb’onen n’uyi. Maa gbagbe o
Baba luli bibe. Wa daigbo o wa d’aboba (If the man is good)
Baba luli bibe. O toi ti kobo o tenkue (If the man is tight-fisted)
The agba drum a special kind of drum is surrounded by its many players during a performance (S’e yi agba in e e lu agba). The music and the songs start on a slow note and rise in crescendo until they reach a state of frenzy.
Written By: Pa Oluade Akinfemiwa