African harp

Azande harper, 1877-80

African Harps, particularly arched or "bow" harps, are found in several Sub-Saharan African music traditions, particularly in the north-east. Used from early times in Africa, they resemble the form of harps in ancient Egypt with a vaulted body of wood, parchment faced, and a neck, perpendicular to the resonant face, on which the strings are wound.


AN arched harp from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

The ennanga, nanga, nnanga or enanga is a type of arched harp played by the Ganda people of Uganda. The sound box is made of a single piece of wood and roughly hemispherical. The top of the box is a stretched resonant membrane made of antelope skin, tied to a piece of hide at the bottom of the box. The neck is attached to the inside of the box, exits through a small round opening on the membrane, and curves upward for about 60 to 70 cm. Seven or eight strings are attached to a piece of wood inside the box, and extend through the skin to tuning pegs inserted along the neck. Sometimes small metallic rattling pieces are attached to the pegs, to color the sound. It is usually used to accompany men's singing.

Abalanga (harpist) are skilled performers and composers who work within a very structured paradigm to ensure that no two abalanga performances are the same.[1]


Ancient Egyptian harp in the British Museum

The kundi is the five-string harp of the Azande and related people of Central Africa. It is an instrument traditionally played by young men and boys.[2] A similar type of harp played by the Nzakara people. The instruments are well known for their ornately-carved heads. The instrument has generally fallen from popularity, though in 1993 some older players were recorded on the album Music from the Bandia Courts.[3]

See also


  1. Rachel, Muehrer (2012). "Playing techniques of the nnanga of Buganda". African Music: Journal of the International Library of African Music. Grahamstown: International Library of African Music, Rhodes University. 9 (2): 57–76. doi:10.21504/amj.v9i2.1804. ISSN 0065-4019. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  2. Daniela. "Bring n Braai". Archived from the original on 29 April 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
  3. Gérard Assayag; Hans G. Feichtinger; José-Francisco Rodrigues; European Mathematical Society (2002). "Mathematics and music: a Diderot Mathematical Forum". Springer. p. 170. ISBN 978-3-540-43727-7.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/20/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.