Okropong uses instruments made from natural materials found in Ghana to play its music. These instruments—drums, bells, shakers and xylophones—belong to the percussion family. Musicians play them by striking them with sticks or bare hands, or by shaking them. Some of Okropong’s members also sing and play flutes.


drumAs the group’s master drummer, Obo Addy sets the speed (tempo) of the music. He leads the other musicians and dancers by playing rhythms and pitches that these performers understand like words in a language. Okropong’s music is polyrhythmic. It contains many rhythms at once. Each musician plays a single rhythm to form a polyrhythmic whole. On top of this polyrhythm, the master drummer improvises additional rhythms. Students will get a chance to try out a polyrhythm at the performance!

Drumming is passed down from generation to generation in traditional societies. The master drummer is the teacher and the student begins with the bell before being allowed to touch a drum.

Donno DrumDonno: The Talking Drum: When you speak or sing, the pitch of your words can be high, medium, or low. The donno(DOH noh) drum is often called the “Talking Drum” because it also can play high, medium, and low pitches. At each end of its hourglass-shaped body is a drumhead. These two drumheads are attached to each other with leather strings. By striking one drumhead with a curved stick and squeezing or releasing the leather strings with one arm, donno players can adjust the pitch of the sound.

Gome DrumGome: This is a square drum which is covered with a skin at one end. It has a tensioning device inside to pull the skin tighter as a way to tune it. The drummer sits on the drum striking the skin with his hand and using the heel of his foot to change the pitch.


Shekere or ahetse: A gourd or calabash covered with a net of beads which gives a high pitched sound and keeps the time.



Gyil: An instrument commonly called an African xylophone. The keys are made of wood with gourds hanging underneath for resonance. It is hit with two mallets. The keys are strung together with leather strings.

Construct simple percussion
instruments and create a classroom orchestra. Possible materials might
include gourds, sticks, bells, boxes etc.

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