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Musical bow

Lunda 1972 - 412.jpg Tshokwe4212 Schmidt76.jpg boog.jpg gebogen.jpg umuduri - bewerkt.jpg (luister) (luister) (luister)

A larger version of the mouth bow is the musical bow, which is also widely distributed around the Congo. The basis of this instrument is the hunting bow, which has here been converted into a musical instrument by adding two adaptations: a calabash attached to the bow serves as a sound box and the strings are pulled through a loop, tied and attached, dividing them into two unequal parts so that two underlying tones can be played. By moving the loop, the distance between the two tones can be changed at will. Both segments of the string are struck with a thin rod. More experienced players can control the back of the string with the index finger, enabling a third undertone to be played. In the hand that strikes the string, the musician holds a small fruit rattle attached to a wooden stick that accompanies the rhythm to the cadence of the string being played. The playing of a musical bow combines melody and a rhythmic bass that provides an accompaniment to the singing. The calabash is half open and in the convex upper side is a small hole through which the loop runs that is attached to the string. This direct contact with the string results in greater resonance. A piece of cloth is often inserted between the calabash and the bow to reduce unwanted vibrations. The musician can change the timbre of the instrument by pushing the half-open calabash against or away from his chest or stomach. An important difference with the mouth bow is that it is played vertically.

The musical bow too is played primarily to add music to everyday stories and events.


LAURENTY,J.S., Les cordophones du Congo belge et du Rwanda-Urundi, Tervuren, Annales Sciences Humaines, n°2, 230 pp., 1960


GANSEMANS,J., Musiques des Lunda du Katanga, in: Anthologie de la musique congolaise, vol. 1, CD, Fonti Musicali fmd 401

GANSEMANS,J., Musiques des Kwese, in: Anthologie de la musique congolaise, vol. 6, CD, Fonti Musicali fmd 401

SCHMIDT-WRENGER, B., Music of the Tshokwe, Recordings of African music n. 11, RMCA-Tervuren