Diddley Bow Song

Must Hear! Especially the ending!!
Diddley Bow Song from the Rhythm & Stuff week at MusiCamp 2015.


A large part of MusiCamp is making instruments and the tin-can-2X4 diddley bow featured in this post is just one type of instrument campers can choose to make during their week at MusiCamp. This past week, these three campers decided to really explore the playing of the instrument and in particular drew from the instrument’s African origins. They based this song off of a Malawian song we heard from another Youtube video that discusses the history of the diddley bow – and it was so much fun to figure out and then play – and these guys did a great job getting the groove! Have a listen to them and make sure you listen to the end to hear their singing!


Malawi was probably used as an example in “The History of the Diddley Bow” video because Malawians were and are so successful at using recycled containers as resonators for homemade instruments and then creating music that is exciting and fun yet distinctly Malawian. I spent a few years in Malawi in the 1990s and especially recall the Malawian Chibuku beer box guitar!


The diddley bow, as seen in the above video, with tin resonator attached to wooden 2X4, is believed to be an African American origins, though it is related to many different instruments found around the world, like the andibidi from the Congo, the umakweyana of West Africa, the dan bau of Vietnam, the gobichand of India. More information on instrument making at MusiCamp can be accessed here.


By the way, in case you are wondering, the Rhythm & Stuff week was originally scheduled as West African Drumming Camp; however, because we didn’t have enough registrants (we needed 7 registrants to run the drumming) we ran an alternative program that involved lots of rhythm fun, including lots of body percussion as well as beatboxing, rhythm games and some hand drumming and singing.