Butternut Squash Udu

This instrument is inspired by pottery Udus from Nigeria. It is a percussion instrument, a drum, which produces a distinctive bass sound. An ideal instrument for dark autumn nights when squash are in season.

Difficulty of construction: starstarstarstarstar (5 stars hardest, 1 star easiest)

Video of Steve Mesure demonstrating how to make a butternut squash udu - also available to download in quicktime or windows media player format

Squash Udu

Ingredients

  • 1x Butternut Squash (the bigger the better!)
  • 1x Drill
  • 1x Large diameter drill bit e.g. 32mm
  • 1x Long drill bit e.g. 15mm, long enough to drill from the top of the squash to the seed cavity.
  • 1x Large strong desert spoon or ice cream scoop

Cut the top off the squash to make a flat surface. Drill from the top using the long bit (slowly and carefully!), until you reach the cavity where the seeds are. Drill from the side into the seed cavity using the large drill bit. Hollow out the internal cavity removing the seeds and squash flesh.

The best instruments have a large internal cavity without debris which otherwise deadens the sound. The hole in the side should be large so that lots of air is moved when you slap your palm across it – this will make the instrument as loud as possible. However, it shouldn't be so large that you lose the cavity. The hole in the top is usually a little smaller. Flaring it at the top (think of the bell on a wind instrument) might also make the sound louder.

(The drill sizes are very approximate.)