Congo, Uele region.
l. cm 72. wood, leather,
(Private collection, Modena)
Collected by Catholic
missionary priests in the early 1900s, this type of harp, used by the
Mangbetu, Nzakara and Azande people among others, is passed
down from generation to generation with great care.
It is thought that no
Mangbetu harps had arrived in the West prior to the twentieth century,
and it is likely that the oldest were manufactured by Barambo,
based on an Azande model where a small carved head at the top of
the handle depicts a characteristic Mangbetu hairstyle.
The harp’s music
accompanies the voice which relies on the iterative melody of the
instrument. The words of the poet-singer-performer may be accompanied by
two other harps and even xylophones, drums and flutes.
The harp can very easily
fall out of tune, and can also be tuned in various ways according to the
different types of song.
Brincard M.-T., Afriques
formes sonores, Paris, 1990.
Chauvet S., Musique nègre, Paris, 1929.
Dampierre E., Harpes Zande, Paris, 1992.
Bruguière, Speranza, La parole du fleuve,