- Lucy Durán
Five-string plucked lute of the Mandinka and Jola peoples of Senegal and the Gambia. In construction it is identical with the khalam of the Wolof people and much of the two instruments’ repertory and playing technique is similar. The konting probably derives from the nkoni of Mali which was mentioned by the Arab traveller Ibn Baṭṭūṭa who visited Mali in 1353. It was already then an instrument of the court. Mungo Park (1799) described a three-string lute called ‘koonting’. An earlier Jola name for a lute which might have been of this type was kotin. The plucked lute remained one of the main instruments of the professional court musicians (Mandinka: jali) until the early 20th century when it was overshadowed by the kora. Nowadays the konting has almost disappeared as a Mandinka instrument and is found mainly in eastern Senegal, but the Jola of southern Senegal occasionally use it, as do the Fula of Sierra Leone who call it ...