Type: Idiophones > Lamellaphones > Comb.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 122.1
Country: Congo DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo].
Region: Central Africa.
Description: The Kisanji is the name given to the lamellaphone of the Ngala in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Other names include Ikembe, Chisanji, Eleke or sanza.
Playing Techniques: It is played by holding the instrument in both hands and plucking the keys with the thumbs. The pitch of each metal key is determined by the width of the key. Most often the placement of the keys is symmetrical, with the lowest keys in the middle and the higher keys on each end of the instrument.
Tuning: The most common tuning is the pentatonic scale without semitones, for example a c-major pentatonic [five note] scale / D / E / G / A which varies by region. The music played on the sanza is polyrhythmic with overlapping rhythms. The instrument is often used to accompany the voice, to great effect.
Construction: The playing keys, are placed and attached to the soundboard. The resonator could be a gourd or clay and varies in size. The number of keys varies from region to region. Within each region the instrument can take on a variety of shapes.