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date: 20 August 2019

Bangwe [bango, ndyele, pango, pangwe]locked

  • Andrew Tracey

Extract

[bango, ndyele, pango, pangwe]

Board zither of southeastern Africa made of a flat board or of a raft of papyrus stalks. Its single wire or fibre string is stretched from end to end through holes in the body of the instrument (normally seven times, but nine to 12 among the Sena, Manganja, and Barwe peoples of central Mozambique). Rough tuning is effected by friction tensioning each segment, fine tuning by moving the small bridges under each string at the player’s end. In northern Mozambique and Malawi the player usually strums all the pentatonically tuned strings with the right index finger while damping with the left fingers those notes that are not required to sound, an ancient technique used on many lyres and zithers. The bangwe, once ubiquitous in Malawi, is now rare. In central Mozambique the tuning is heptatonic; the player plucks the open strings with the fingers and thumbs of both hands, sharing a repertoire with the lamellaphones of the region. The far end of the instrument is often put into a calabash or tin can for resonance; the resonator is dotted with loose bottle tops that serve as buzzers....

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