The Power of the Udu
I have been using the udu for about thirty years in a variety of contexts. In this time I have come to learn about the power of this unique instrument. I have travelled far through my music, but I am yet to come across a musical instrument that brings about a state of calm more effectively and with greater ease than the udu. I am referring to playing it as well as being in the presence of its distinctive sound.
I have used the udu for therapeutic purposes, played it in sessions with children for fun, explored its sonic properties to demonstrate complex science principles in schools, enjoyed it with my family for relaxation and bonding, shared its rhythms with communities at a slavery museum to exorcise the demons of memory in a stress-free group environment, and played it in creative arts workshops and many other social and educational settings.
Over the years I have also played the udu with my partner to stimulate the dance of our children when they were in her womb and as they emerged and developed into the independent individuals who now direct the flow of our shared rhythms.
I am fascinated by the natural composition of the udu – fire, earth, water and air. In this way the construction and sound of the udu embody the essential parts and principles of every living entity. In the language of my people the Zulu, the word for air is umoya. This is also the word for spirit, which is the fifth and most vital element in the nature of creation.
My practice is strengthened by my acknowledgement and acceptance of this concept from my culture. The inhalation of the spirit brings us closer to the nature of our being, who we are. To me this makes the udu the perfect instrument for inducing a sense of wholeness and wellbeing. It is with this understanding that I continue to use this instrument in my global creative efforts.