- Mahi Ismail
- , revised by Jamie Linwood
Xylophone of central Africa. The rongo of the Ndogo people of southern Sudan has ten ebony bars mounted on a wooden frame with ten matched gourd resonators attached below. A small hole in the bottom of each resonator is covered with a mirliton made from a spider’s egg sac. A leather strap attached to the ends of the frame enables the standing player to hang the instrument from his shoulders or neck. The frame extends in a semicircle that holds the instrument away from the player’s body (see illustration). The ten bars are pentatonically tuned and paired in octaves with the lowest pair at the player’s left, and the other pairs ascending in pitch from right to left. The musician uses a pair of rubber-headed beaters in each hand so that he can strike a bar and its lower octave simultaneously.
A form of this instrument, known as rango, is now played in Egypt, where it arrived with the Ndogo in successive waves of immigration, first when they came as conscripts into the Egyptian army in the 1820s and later as workers on cotton plantations. The ...