nKangala

Name: nKangala.
Type: Chordophones > Idiochord > Mouth Bow.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#:
Country: Malawi.
Region: Africa.

Description: The nkangala is a plucked mouth that is classified as a stick zither chordophone. It is found and played in Malawi. Gerhard Kubik [p. 321] explains that the nkangala was introduced in the 1800s by migrating Angoni people, who originally came from what is now South Africa.

The nkangala is also found among the Nguni peoples of South Africa, where it is called umqangala by the Zulu, Thonga and Swazi. It is played almost exclusively by girls and women in times of solitude.

Playing Techniques: The bow is placed into the player’s mouth. The string is plucked with a plectrum held in the right hand. The fundamental pitches are produced by the length of the playing string and by bending of the bow with the middle finger of the left hand to achieve a pitch about a note that is almost a whole step higher. Various harmonics above these two fundamentals are achieved by changing the shape of the mouth cavity.

Construction: The nkangala is made of a hollow cane from a water reed known locally as “banjo”. The traditional sisal string on the instrument is substituted with nylon fishing line. The line is securely tied around each end of the reed. The line is taught with enough tension to give the reed a slight bend.

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