Worship and Music - Ethnomusicology


Master of Arts (MA)


Katherine H. Morehouse


at risk instrument, culture loss, Gĩkũyũ flute, Gĩkũyũ music, mũtũrĩrũ, temporary instrument


Ethnomusicology | Music | Musicology | Music Pedagogy | Music Performance | Music Theory | Other Music


The Agĩkũyũ people of Kenya are one of the largest people groups in Kenya. However, systematic repression of Gĩkũyũ culture led to many traditional elements being forgotten, put aside, if not lost completely. The mũtũrĩrũ, a bark flute used when herding and in certain ritual dances, was one such element. The mũtũrĩrũ was initially a temporary instrument, which evolved into more permanent bamboo versions. These may have between two and six finger holes. Another version, called a "spider web mũtũrĩrũ" has no finger holes but has a paper membrane over one end to create a buzzing timbre effect. Research was carried out in Kenya during May and June of 2015. The mũtũrĩrũ was found at Mukurwe wa Nyagathanga, where the elders made and played on bark, bamboo, and spider web mũtũrĩrũs. Interviews took place there, and initial recordings were made. Investigation also considered the use of traditional music in Kenyan Primary Schools. There are annual traditional music festivals in which students participate. Students perform traditional dances and vocal songs as well as instrumental selections. Music teachers, as well as traditional music practitioners were interviewed for background on preparation and performance. These festivals, in addition to certain church settings, provide ideal opportunities for a re-introduction of the instrument to Kenyan culture.