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date: 13 November 2019


  • K.A. Gourlay
  • , revised by Ferdinand J. de Hen


Eight-string Trough zither of Rwanda, Burundi, and the Kivu area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is carved from a single piece of wood 65 to 95 cm long and 20 to 30 cm wide. The bottom of the interior is slightly concave; the interior walls are more steeply concave. The ends, slightly rounded on the outside, have several deep triangular notches corresponding to the number of strings. One length of string is threaded via the notches back and forth from one end to the other. A wooden stick can be inserted beneath the strings at each end to increase the tension and assist tuning. The strings are normally plucked by the fingers (see illustration; see also Zither, fig. 1c ), though an early account of the Rundi zither suggests that they are also struck with the nails of the middle and index fingers supported by the thumb. This zither is preeminently the instrument of skilful musicians and poets, who accompany their own compositions in praise of heroes or of martial exploits. In Rwanda, Yuki III Mazimpaka, who reigned in the first half of the 18th century, was a remarkable poet-composer of ...

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J.S. Laurenty: Les chordophones du Congo belge et du Ruanda Urundi (Tervuren, 1960)