Type: Lute > Chordophone.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 321.322.6
Country: Gambia, Senegal.
Region: West Africa.
Description: The xalam is a two stringed fretless lute that is a very close analogue of the Malian N’goni in its construction. Thus, suggesting a likely relationship between the two. The xalam also bears a similarity to the akonting. Someone who plays the xalam is called a xalamkat a word composed of the verbal form of xalam, meaning “to play the xalam”, and the agentive suffix -kat, thus meaning “one who xalams”.
The distribution arch of this instrument through out West Africa is quite wide. The Xalam is played by the Wolof in Senegal, Gambia, Niger, Northern Nigeria, Northern Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Western Sahara. It is known in many other languages as bappe, diassare, hoddu [Pulaar], koliko [Gurunsi], kologo [Frafra], komsa, kontigi [Hausa], koni, konting [Mandinka], molo [Songhay / Zarma], ndere, ngoni [Bambara] and tidinit [Hassaniyya and Berber].