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Thu Tinda!!!

copyright © 2019-2020 Otieno Oduor & Sabrina Oduor. All rights reserved.

© Rapasa Otieno Oduor

© Rapasa Otieno Oduor

© Rapasa Otieno Oduor

© Rapasa Otieno Oduor

© Rapasa Otieno Oduor

The oriri/orutu is a Lüo musical instrument from western Kenya. Some refer to it as the ‘mourning instrument’.

It is made of a resonator open at one end and of an arm supporting a single string. The other side of the resonator is traditionally covered with a monitor lizard skin. Changes to the string was brought about through experimentation and innovation. It used to be made of animal tendons/ligaments then sisal fibers now bicycle or motorcycle brake cables are now widely in use. The string is held from the top by a sort of nail called msumal. While it holds the string enables to tune the instrument. The bow is made from sisal fibers tied on a bent flexible stick or a bamboo. For the sisal to grip the string and produce a clear tone, bondo (tree gum) or rosin is applied on the bow string. We have a rubber at the top that holds the left thumb inside. It ensures that the left hand is firm and correctly positioned for the fingers to press on the string and produce different notes as the bow goes across the string. Three or four fingers of left hand are alternatively used to produce the notes.

Majority of communities in Kenya uses similar fiddles under a different name. What differentiates the orutu from others in Kenya is its shorter arm-stick and lighter resonator. While Lüō, Abagusii and Luhya communities uses it as a supporting element for entertainment in pubs and ceremonies, the Embu, Meru and Agikuyu communities considers it as a children instrument to play while looking after cattle and goats in the fields.

Accompaniments to oriri are: nyangile, nyiduonge, ahangla, ongeng’o, oporo, asili (odundu) and voice.