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Article

K. A. Gourlay

Large, slightly barrel-shaped, double-headed drum of the Kilba people of north-eastern Nigeria. It is approximately 75 cm long and 45 cm at its widest diameter. The drum is distinguished by having two snares on the upper head and bracing cords arranged in sets of three, without a central ligature. It is used on both ceremonial and social occasions, being the principal instrument in all death-dance ceremonies and for the communal bearing of a corpse to the grave. It is also played with the ...

Article

Open, variable-tension hourglass drum of the Kilba people of Nigeria. It is played under the arm and struck with a hooked stick. The narrowest part of the waist is nearer the head than the open end. The dang fokku is traditionally associated with the warrior class and used only in their dances and those of the hunters; it allegedly has the power both of inspiring courage and of enticing leopards out of hiding....

Article

Jeremy Montagu

Frame xylophone of Burkina Faso. It has 17 or sometimes 18 rectangular wooden bars; all except the one to three lowest bars have large calabash resonators below them with buzzing membranes (mirletons) over holes in the side. It is tuned to an anhemitonic pentatonic scale of three octaves and a tone, with the intervals varying between a slightly narrow whole tone and a minor third. The lowest bars, because they are not resonated and are used differently, are not part of the scale system. The instrument is used for funeral rites, the name meaning ‘funeral repertoire’. It is played with wooden sticks tipped with natural rubber.

The lowest one to three bars, called jìl kpàwre (jìl or gyil: xylophones in general; kpàwre: beating, hence in this context ‘accompanying the xylophone with these bars’), serve a special purpose, being played by a second player with wooden sticks (often with the normal beaters reversed) only to mark the rhythm. The second player is thus regarded not as playing the xylophone but as accompanying it, so that, unlike other xylophones, the ...

Article

Dende  

Andrew Tracey

[tshikala]

Braced gourd-resonated musical bow of the Venda of South Africa. It resembles the Shangana/Tsonga (Shangaan) xitende/tshitende in Mozambique and South Africa and the Zulu and Swazi umakhweyana in South Africa and Swaziland. The bow stick averages 1.4 metres long, but can vary from 0.6 to more than 2 metres. It is held vertically with the opening in the gourd held against the player’s chest. The string is struck with a light stick or grass stem. The pitch interval between the two segments of the string characterises each language, the Venda and Zulu using about 200 cents, the Shangaan about 300. One or the other segment is usually fingered up by 100 or 200 cents to give a minimum of three fundamental notes. The opening in the gourd is moved off and onto the player’s chest to provide some measure of selected resonance of harmonics or for a ‘wa-wa’ effect. It is mostly a man’s instrument, used to accompany social and political commentary, but among the Zulu and Swazi it was largely played by young women before marriage. However, like most musical bows in southern Africa, it has become rare. In the 1970s the Zulu musician and Benedictine Brother Clement Sithole pioneered the use of the ...

Article

Deza  

Andrew Tracey

[mbila deza, mbila dza madeza]

Lamellaphone of the Venda of South Africa. It is essentially the same as the better-known mbira dza vadzimu of the Shona of Zimbabwe, with some variation in note layout. The full name, mbila dza madeza, means ‘mbila of calabashes’, referring to the large calabash (see below) in which it is propped for resonance. It has a heavy tray-type body with a little-finger hole in a bottom corner with which to hold the instrument while playing, and about 26 tongues, often broad and spatulate, in two superimposed ranks, covering more than three octaves in a heptatonic tuning. The two lower octaves are the domain of the left thumb; the upper range is played by right thumb and, plucking upwards, the right index finger. Instruments with bass and treble sides reversed are also found. The deza is the particular instrument of the Lemba sub-group of the Venda. Its repertoire includes several sacred songs identical to those played on the Shona ...

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Dialle  

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Difna  

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Dikanza  

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Dikembe  

K.A. Gourlay

revised by F.J. de Hen

[dikembi]

Small Lamellaphone of the Luba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has a rectangular wooden box resonator containing small rattling stones or pieces of metal, and ten to 12 metal tongues (milondo) tuned heptatonically and often fitted with buzzing rings. Tuning is effected by lengthening or shortening the vibrating length of the tongues, which are secured by a metal pressure bar (...

Article

J. Gansemans

revised by F.J. de Hen

Scraper of the Luba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is made from a raffia-palm branch, dikulo, 30 to 50 cm long, in which a slit 25 cm long and 1 cm wide is cut. The musician rubs a thin but strong stick against notches cut along both sides of the slit. The ...

Article

Dilele  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

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Dimba  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

[djimba]

Xylophone of the Luba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It has eight to 20 bars, each over a calabash resonator. The bars rest on a frame made of two parallel rails pierced and held together by a long rod bent in a semicircle. When the dimba is carried while being played, the bent rod passes over the musician’s neck to support the instrument. The Lunda and Tshokwe call it ...

Article

Ferdinand J. de Hen

Article

F.J. de Hen

Lamellaphone of the Mwanza of the southeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are two distinct types, both generally with eight to 12 tongues: one has a box resonator, the other has the tongues mounted on a board. It is also known as kiana (a board with 20 tongues) and ...

Article

Djonga  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

Set of stopped flutes used by the Ngombe people of the Ubangi-Cuvette region, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The cylindrical tubes are threaded together on cord or wire. The Ngbaka of the northwestern DRC call it djaka.

J.S. Laurenty: Systématique des aerophones de l’Afrique centrale (Tervuren, 1974), 190, 201....

Article

Djumo  

Dance drum of the Monjombo people of the Ubangi region, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Djumo is also reportedly the Mandinko word for bougarabou, a West African goblet or conical drum with rope-tuned antelope-, calf-, or goatskin head, open at the base and often decoratively carved and varnished, and commonly played by hand in groups of three or four to back up ...

Article

Laurence Libin

(b Jirapa, Ghana, June 22, 1958). Ghanaian xylophone maker, player, and teacher. Born into a family of gyilli makers and players in northwest Ghana, Doozie began playing at six years of age. When he was 12 his father taught him to make his first gyilli and he was a practised maker by age 15. After secondary school Doozie moved to Accra to become a xylophonist with the Ghana Dance Ensemble. He was also an instructor at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon. Among other appointments, he has performed with the National SO Ghana and has been associated with the Institute of African Studies and the music and performing arts departments of the University of Ghana. In 1990 he established a workshop to produce xylophones; he made the xylophones used in the Broadway production of The Lion King. He has also restored instruments in museum collections. He continues to teach and perform and is managing director of Dagarti Arts and Music in Accra and a member of the Arts Council of Ghana. He is also involved in promoting fair trade practices. Doozie’s xylophone bars—from eight to 18 for each instrument—are made of aged, fire-dried planks of wood from male shea trees. Gourd resonators are affixed under the bars, which are tied to the curved frame. The tips of the wooden beaters are padded with rubber recycled from tyres....

Article

Dungu  

Ferdinand J. de Hen

Cylindro-conical kettledrum of the Nkundo, Jia, and Sakata peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The partially hollowed wooden body usually contains small rattling stones and is usually painted red or red and white. The closed lower end is covered with a hide to which the goatskin head is fastened by leather cords. The height varies between 50 and 160 cm. ...

Article

Dunun  

Rainer Polak

[dundun, djoundjoung; ngangan, konkonin]

Double-headed cylindrical drum with several varieties widespread among Manding-speaking peoples and their neighbours in the Sahel and Sudan belts of West Africa (Senegal, Gambia, Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast). Dunun also is a generic term for ‘drum’ in Manding languages.

The bodies are traditionally carved from wood, but modern shells are often trimmed from recycled metal containers. The heads, of cow, calf, or goat skin, are sewn to a strap running around the shell just below the rim. The straps of both heads are connected by lacing, which applies tension to the heads. The lacing, formerly rawhide or leather, is nowadays mainly synthetic rope. In urban and international contexts, the traditional sewing technique for mounting the heads tends to be replaced by clamp tensioning with iron rings, following the model of the modern jembe drum. Only one head is struck, with a single curved or rectangularly hafted drumstick made from wood or raffia palm leaf stalk. Some ...