Africa is inhabited by different ethnic groups, each with a musical tradition of its own. This is a rich traditional music heritage that has been orally transmitted from generation to generation for centuries. Despite external influences, the majority of these ethnic groups continue to value and practice their respective traditional musical styles, which in turn have to establish strong musical and cultural identities and continue to do so.
Ugandan music is generally rhythmic, and the complexity of these rhythms varies due to the difference between the ethnic groups. These differences are also reflected in the varied instrumentation. Some musical genres are played on simple instruments while others, especially the dance music, are played in ensembles of complex instrumental formation. African music is usually pentatonic, but a few tribes also use a hexatonic scale. Most of the Ugandan vocal music is accompanied by traditional instruments. The literature embedded in vocal music is purposely meant to transform the social communities, i.e. in their structural adjustment.
Although Uganda is inhabited by a large variety of ethnic groups, a broad linguistic division is usually made between the Bantu-speaking majority, who lives in the central, southern and western parts of the country and the non-Bantu speakers, who occupy the eastern, northern and north-western portions of the country (these may be sub-divided into Nilotic and Central Sudanic peoples). The first category includes the large and historically highly centralized kingdom of Buganda, the smaller western Ugandan kingdoms of Bunyoro, Nkore and Batooro, and the Busoga states to the east of Buganda. The peoples in the second category (they constitute less than one-tenth of the population) include the Iteso, Langi, Acholi, Alur, Karimojong, Kakwa, Jopadhola, Kumam, Sebei (Nilotic language groups) and the Metu, Madi, Lugbara and Okebu (Central Sudanic group) in the north and a number of other smaller societies in the eastern part of the country.