Name: Egobore.
Type: Chordophones > Bows > Braced >
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 311.111
Country: Uganda.
Region: East Africa.

Description: The egobore is known by the Nyambo, Hutu, Iru, Kooki and the Kiga, but is not a local traditional instrument originally. It comes from Tanzania and was introduced in Ankole via Rwanda. The instrument is reserved for the men, who play it solo in accompaniment to their songs for relaxation.

Playing Techniques: Experienced players also hold down the string with the second segment of the middle finger of the left hand to create an additional note. The string is struck with a flexible stick [dried hard grass] and springs back quickly when it touches the string; this creates a staccato effect.

The egobore is held vertically by the player with the opening of the gourd against the body. Other sounds are produced by pressing the gourd against the body or holding it away from the body as the instrument is played.

The musician playing the egobore also holds an akajebajebe rattle in the same hand together with the stick with which the string is struck, the rattle thus adding to the sounds that are played. Playing methods can vary greatly depending on the area: sometimes two rattles are used and sometimes additional rhythmic patterns are beaten on the gourd.

Construction: The egobore or alternatively known as egubure, or umunahi is a musical bow with a single string attached both ends a gourd resonator is attached to the bow. The string is usually made of plant fibre but nowadays nylon is increasingly common. The bow made of a flexible decorticated branch measuring 120 cm to 140 cm in length. The bow is tapered at both ends.

A loop positioned just slightly off centre and attached to the bull pulls the string in towards the bow, thus dividing the string into two unequal halves and creating two different notes. This loop also permits tuning by ever moving the loop slightly. The loop has another function, however, as it runs through a small hole in the resonator and is attached inside the resonator with a small block that sits crossways across the hole.

The gourd is thus attached to the bow and is in direct contact with the gourd resonator, which helps strengthen the sound. Part of the gourd is cut away, which creates an open resonator. And although the gourd resonator is then in contact with the string, the bow does not directly touch the resonator because a small cushion of soft material [grass or cotton] or an empty bobbin is inserted between the two.

Citation: Bibliography: Paul Van Thiel, “Multi-Tribal Music of Ankole. An ethnomusicological study including a glossary of musical terms.” Edited by the Royal Museum for Central Africa, Annales, Sciences Humaines, nr 91, 1977, 234 pp. Websites: African [egbore bow article]  by Paul Van Thiel ;