Posts Tagged ‘West Africa’

Chordophones

December 1, 2009

 

 

These are essentially instruments that are plucked. For example musical bows called mouth bows where the players mouth cavity acts as a resonator and the mvet or harp-zither usually eight-strings with a gourd resonator. The mvet is found in the region of Ghaya in the West of the Central African Republic. There are also many other varieties of harps that Kubik has called the national instrument.

While in Mali we heard Kora players. The Kora is a harp/lute popular is West Africa. One of the best-known performers of this instrument is Toumani Diabate who has performed in the US and recently at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC.

Plucked Instruments:

  • Mouth bows
  • Mvet Harp-zither (eight strings)
  • Variety of other harps in different sizes and string counts based on the region.
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Idiophones

November 14, 2009

 

The Central African Republic has many types of idiophones. These are instruments that vibrate without strings or a membrane. In Western music some types of idiophones may be a triangle, cymbal, or marimba. Many of the instruments mentioned by Simha Arom below have become an essential part of Afro-Cuban and Latin percussion. I heard all of these instruments performed by various ensembles while in Burkina Faso this past summer. Actually the clappers made out of metal blades were somewhat challenging to play and they had a powerful sound quality.

  • Metal blades used by the Pygmies as clappers
  • Single or double bells, with internal or external clappers.
  • Wooden slit drums used by the Banda and Manja in families of two to four at a time.
  • Gourd aka water drums found in Islamic groups
  • Xylophones with five to ten keys, some with gourd resonators and others with mobile keys that may be placed on the knees or in a hole in the ground.
  • Log drums (Mpyemo and Kaka)
  • Rattles, pellet bells, ankle and knee-jingles.

In Burkina Faso, (West Africa)  I saw dance troops, sometimes 10 Р20 dancers, moving in unison with knee-jingles to great dramatic effect.

  • Scrappers (Ubangi river-dwellers)
  • Sanza aka Mbira, Kalimba or thumb piano: metal or bamboo tongues attached to a resonator. Also very popular in Zimbabwe. Often tuned to a pentatonic scale and/or various micro-tuned subsets.