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Ngoma  

Peter Cooke

[engoma, goma, gomo, ingoma, in̄goma, ng'oma, ngomba, ngomm, ngomo etc.]

A common term (with many variants) used generically for many kinds of drum among the numerous Bantu-speaking peoples of central, eastern-central and southern Africa. However, ‘ngoma’ often has a wider meaning, at its widest standing for music and dancing (and the associated feasting), and for ceremonies in which drumming occurs. Because of its use as a general name for drums of various shapes and sizes it often appears in the catalogues of instrument collections (e.g. Boone, 1951).

Among different peoples ngoma can variously denote a dance, a drum ensemble, the most important drum of an ensemble, or individual drums. Use of the name is sometimes indicative that drums have special sacred or magical properties. Ngoma dza midzimu (‘drums of the ancestor spirits’) is the term used by the Venda of the Transvaal for spirit possession dances; the bass drum in the accompanying ensemble, a large hemispherical drum with a single head, resembling the two drums with which it is played, is itself called ...

Article

Ngombo  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

Cylindrical wooden slit drum of the Chokwe people in the Kasayi-Shaba region, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Pende call it mukoko dia ngombo and the Kongo call it mikoko mi ngombe. It has an extension carved as a human head, representing a divine spirit. The haircut and sometimes tattoos on the face designate a male or a female spirit. The ...

Article

Ngwomi  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

[ngwim, ngwen]

Pluriarc of the Teke (Tegue) peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Gabon, and the Hum, Mfinu, and Yans of the DRC. Ngwim is the Hum term, ngwen the Yans. The Teke term ngwomi denotes a large five-string instrument whose string-bearer (composed of five bows neatly tied together) and strings are almost perpendicular to its rectangular soundbox. The soundbox is traditionally made from a hollowed block of wood but nowadays is sometimes made of boards tied together with rattan; the soundboard, however, is triangular, covering the soundbox and projecting like a bird’s tail. Metal jingles on the bows produce a buzzing effect. The name ...

Article

Nkanika  

Article

Nkoni  

Lucy Durán and Aurelia W. Hartenberger

[ngoni]

Plucked half-spike lute of the Manding people of West Africa. Ibn Battūta, who visited the Mali Empire in 1353, described the nkoni, and Mungo Park wrote about it in the late 18th century. These wooden lutes with a trough-like resonator and fan-shaped bridge were probably the oldest melody instruments used by jeliya (griot, professional court musicians), who did not play hunters’ harps. After the decline of the Mali empire in the 15th century the Manding moved westward into Guinea, Senegal, and the Gambia, creating a linguistic and cultural Mande diaspora reflected in various griot names for the nkoni: koni (Maninka and Xasonka); kontingo/konting (Mandinka); ngoni (Bamana, Bambara), and so on.

Nkoni have one to seven strings, most commonly four (two long and two short). The strings are knotted at one end with leather tuning strips to a dowel-like, unfretted neck, and pass over a bridge on the skin soundtable and through a sound hole to be attached at the opposite end to the exposed end of the neck, which terminates at that point within the resonator....

Article

Nsaasi  

Peter Cooke

Ganda name for the vessel rattle ubiquitous in Uganda. It is made from a gourd (calabash), the narrow neck of which serves as a handle, the spherical part as a container for seeds or stones. They are usually used in pairs (pl. ensaasi) in many dance music ensembles and play an important part in spirit rituals. In northern Uganda they are often given incised or burned decoration. In Nkore a common term for this is oburengo. Variants of the word (isaasi, etc.) occur as well as for other types of rattle, for example the flattened tin box rattle commonly used in Busoga and the metal rattle (esaasi) of Nkole, which is made from a tin can approximately 8 cm long and 6 cm in diameter, hammered into an hourglass shape and perforated all over by a nail, with loose pebbles inside.

M. Trowell and K.P. Wachsmann...

Article

Nswezi  

Peter Hoesing

[eŋoma dh’enswezi]

Term referring to drums associated with nswezi rituals among the Soga people of southeastern Uganda. These rituals feature a type of spirit possession called kusamira or kubandwa in which participants use music to facilitate and maintain connections with ancestral spirits. So central is this activity to possession ritual that the Lusoga verb for performing such a function is okukubira enswezi, literally ‘to beat the nswezi.’ Nswezi practitioners (baswezi) use these drums, along with gourd idiophones (ennengo) and buzzing aerophones (bugwala), to accompany ritual songs.

Nswezi drums, like the ubiquitous Uganda drum, have hide bottom heads, thinner skin batter heads, and twisted hide tension cords that bind the heads tightly over open-ended cylindrical-conical shells. Tuning is effected by adjusting the cords. A nswezi drum differs from a typical Uganda drum in that the lower, conoidal portion of the shell is concave rather than convex. As a result, these drums sound different from drums of neighbouring areas (e.g., Buganda)....

Article

Obaka  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

Article

Ogene  

[ogele, ugele, ogenni]

Clapperless forged iron bell of the Igbo people of Nigeria. It is about 30 cm long and is beaten with a hardwood stick, which may have soft padding at the end. Bells are single, double (ogene mkpi nabo), or triple (ogene mkpi ito). They are used for signalling (e.g. announcing the appearance of a mask), with slit drums and rattles in divination, and as rhythm instruments during dancing. ...

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Okoco  

Peter Cooke

Article

Olubeye  

Peter Cooke

Stick rattle of Uganda. Among the Banyole people it is a stick approximately 100 cm long on which are threaded 20 or more dry oncoba fruit shells, each speared through the middle and each with slits cut into the shell to improve the sound. In Bunyoro, Toro, and Nkore, several short sticks, each with three or four fruit shells, are held parallel by thongs attached at each end; these rattles, called ebinyege, are tied around the calves of dancers for performing the orunyege dance.

Wachsmann recorded but obtained no name for a stick rattle with a tang; it was tapped rhythmically on the soundtable of the rare Soga kimasa harp by an assistant while the harpist played. In south-western Uganda and Rwanda he also noted stick rattles consisting of a small branch with three or four forks each threaded with oncoba fruits and secured at the extremities of the forks by a noose. They were rare and used at spirit rituals....

Article

Peter Cooke

[mugaabe, omugalabe]

Single-headed drum of the Soga people of Uganda. It is open-ended and the head, usually of lizard skin (occasionally of a small mammal such as duiker), is affixed with glue or, less often, nails made of thorns or hard wood. It is played by the hands, usually in ensemble with other drums. In shape it resembles the Ganda ...

Article

Ondende  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

Set of two whistles of the Makere people in the Uele region, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The end-blown, cylindrical (sometimes cylindro-conical) wooden whistles are up to 11 cm long. Other Makere names for sets of two or more whistles are abimbo, bwanze, eli, mapengo, nabimbaye, and nabimbo.

J.S. Laurenty...

Article

Oriwa  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

End-blown gourd horn of the Logo people in the Uele region, Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is played in groups of eight. Alternate names for oriwa are kangamva, akoti, aoalo, aori, asidri, ira, kanga, soma, and agolova.

Article

Outa  

David K. Rycroft

Braced mouth bow of the Herero and Damara (Nama) peoples of southwestern Africa. It is often adapted from a hunting bow (which bears the same name). The stave is held against the player’s slightly parted lips while the string is struck with a thin stick. Mouth-resonated harmonics are used melodically. Among the Damara it is also known as ...

Article

Ferdinand J. de Hen

[ikpwokwo]

Ground bow of the Pygmies who live with the Andekelao people in the Watsa-Gombari region, Democratic Republic of the Congo. One end of the bow is stuck in the ground. A string is fastened to the upper end of the bow and attached at the other end to a small stick under a piece of bark that covers a resonating pit dug in the ground. The string is plucked with the fingers. The instrument is not played by the Andekalao themselves, and surrounding peoples do not know of it....

Article

Piki  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

[piki piki]

Whistle of the Mbuti people and of the Pygmies living with the Balese people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The conical wooden body is about 17 cm long. Reportedly, the piki piki of the Balese is always decorated with metallic binding.

J.S. Laurenty: Systématique des aérophones de l’Afrique centrale...

Article

Gerhard Kubik

A term coined by George Montandon (1919) and adopted by André Schaeffner (1936) to refer to the Central African instrument also known as a bow lute (Hornbostel and Sachs, 1914; Wegner, 1984) of which there are two types. A pluriarc consists of a hollowed wooden resonator with strings running either parallel or slightly inclined to the soundboard. In contrast to harps and lutes, however, pluriarcs are not held by one string-bearer, but each string has its own flexible carrier. For this purpose, in the first type of pluriarc short arcs are inserted into a series of holes bored into the top wall of the resonator or, in the second type, they are attached to the back of the resonator and/or partly inserted. These differences affect the method of tuning.

The term ‘pluriarc’ for this class of instruments has been contested, as has the term ‘bow lute’, mainly due to the fact that both terms suggest an evolutionary sequence from musical bows consisting of ‘one arc’ to an instrument of ‘several arcs’. Jean Sebastien Laurenty was also reluctant but opted for the term ‘pluriarc’ (...

Article

Ponge  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

[pongi, bompate, bonyo]

Side-blown ivory horn of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The ponge, used for signalling and in hunting by the Mbole people, is reported as 15 to 50 cm long with an oval or lozenge-shaped embouchure. The related term pongi, also used by the Mbole and by the Bia, is said to have come from the Lia. Similar horns are called ...

Article

Ferdinand J. de Hen