- Andrew Tracey
Braced gourd-resonated musical bow of the Venda of South Africa. It resembles the Shangana/Tsonga (Shangaan) xitende/tshitende in Mozambique and South Africa and the Zulu and Swazi umakhweyana in South Africa and Swaziland. The bow stick averages 1.4 metres long, but can vary from 0.6 to more than 2 metres. It is held vertically with the opening in the gourd held against the player’s chest. The string is struck with a light stick or grass stem. The pitch interval between the two segments of the string characterises each language, the Venda and Zulu using about 200 cents, the Shangaan about 300. One or the other segment is usually fingered up by 100 or 200 cents to give a minimum of three fundamental notes. The opening in the gourd is moved off and onto the player’s chest to provide some measure of selected resonance of harmonics or for a ‘wa-wa’ effect. It is mostly a man’s instrument, used to accompany social and political commentary, but among the Zulu and Swazi it was largely played by young women before marriage. However, like most musical bows in southern Africa, it has become rare. In the 1970s the Zulu musician and Benedictine Brother Clement Sithole pioneered the use of the ...