Type: Chordophones > Bridge > Harp.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 323.5
Region: West Africa.
Description: The Seperewa, or Seprewa, Sanku, is a harp-lute played by the Akan people of Ghana. The Seperewa belongs to a class of harp-lute chordophones typical in West Africa. With Ghana marking the easternmost area where harp-lutes are played in the region. The Seperewa is one of two types of harp-lutes played in Ghana, the other being the koriduo. The seperewa normally accompanies “praise singing”.
Etymology: The name of the instrument Seperewa derives from the Akan “se” [talk], pre [a word that describes the strumming of the thumb] and “wa” meaning small. So seperewa roughly translates to “this small instrument that you strum, speaks”.
History: The seperewa can be attested to the as the late 17th century by textual sources. It’s tuning and hand positioning. Strings for the left hand are tuned the first, third and fifth degrees of the scale. While the the right-side string are tuned to the second, fourth and sixth scale degrees. Felicitates the modal harmonic progressions typical of Akan music.
Relatives: Numerous relatives of the kora exist in the harp-lute family. They include Dagaare / Sisaala koriduo, the Mandé kora, the Gere duu and Baoule aloko.
Construction: The seperewa traditionally six playing strings, although it may have up to 14 strings. The instruments components consists of a box that functions as the resonator. A gently curved wooden neck extends upwards from the front of the instrument away from the player. A tall bridge standing vertically from the skin; allows for the strings for the strings to pass through. Nowadays the strings are of nylon and they are tied from the neck and the tail at the back of the resonator.
Citations: Bibliography: Gavin Webb ~ Stanley Sadie – New Grove Dictionary Websites: Oxford Music Online – Gavin Webb, Seperewa article ;