Name: N’goni.
Type: Chordophones > Lutes.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Country: Mali, Guinea.
Region: West Africa.

Description: The N’goni is a closely related analogue to the akonting and xalam. The ngoni or n’goni is a stringed instrument having its origin in West Africa. The n’goni appears to be closely related to the akonting and the xalam. This is called a jeli ngoni as it is played by griots at celebrations and special occasions in traditional songs called fasas in Mandingo.

History: The n’goni has been in existence since 1352. When Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan traveller reported seeing one in the court of Mansa Musa. Battuta also reported the balafon. The n’goni is one of the likely candidates for the origins of the banjo that developed in the United States. A book written by English musician Ramon Goose about the Ngoni describes its known history, tunings and a beginner’s guide to playing the instrument.

Construction: The body of the n’goni is made from a carved piece of wood or calabash with dried animal [often goat] skin head stretched over it. A wood shaft functioning as the neck is inserted into the body forming the basic shape of the instrument. A support brace underneath the goat hide keeps the neck in place. While retaining the shape and profile of the body.


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