Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

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I42 AFRICAN MUSIC SOUTH OF THE SAHARA
the epudi, a kind of ocarina used by the Basongye of Kasai, is asso­ciated with hunting. It accompanies hunters' songs before and after the hunt, and it is used as a signaling device during the hunt. It has one finger hole and produces two tones, about a major second apart. Its major use in signaling is for reproduction of the tones of the lan­guage in ways similar to drum and horn signaling techniques.8
Africa has developed a large number of chordophones, or string instruments. The simplest is the musical bow, which normally has only one string but sometimes produces fairly complex music. It is found through Negro Africa, but evidently has more forms in South­east Africa than elsewhere. It is shaped essentially like a hunting bow whose string is plucked or struck with a stick, and its sound is soft. Thus a resonator is almost always required. It may be attached to the end of the bow, or to its middle. In the latter case, the string is usually stopped at the point at which the resonator is attached, so that two strings, with contrasting pitch, are in effect used. If the resonator is not attached, the bow may be held against an inverted pot. A third way of producing resonance is for the player to hold the end of the bow in his mouth, which then acts as the resonator. If he changes the shape of his mouth, different overtones can be heard. The bow is used as a solo instrument as well as an accompaniment to song.
There has evidently been a development from the musical bow, through single-string fiddles and lutes, to more complex stringed in­struments such as zithers and harps. The shapes, arrangements, and tunings of these are almost innumerable. For example, the Ganda of Uganda tune their harps into five roughly equal intervals, each about 240 cents (100 cents equal a tempered semitone) or five quarter tones. The Manga of the Bashi (Congo), a trough zither in which eight strings are stretched along a concave block of wood between two and three feet long, has a tuning using mainly major and minor seconds. Frequently the tuning of instruments and thus the music produced on them seem to have little relationship to the intervals and scales of vocal music.
Aside from the musical bow, the most important African Negro stringed instruments are zithers (with several strings stretched across a board or hollowed-out block), harps (usually with four to eight strings), and fiddles (with one to five strings).
8 Alan P. Merriam, "The Epudi, a Basongye Ocarina," Ethnomusicology VI (1962), 175-77.







E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III