DONSO NGONI AND KAMALE NGONI

I have been building West African harps (Donso Ngoni with 6 strings and Kamale Ngoni with 10 strings) for the past few years, and want to share with you some photos of my instruments, all of whom have new happy homes.

If you would like your own instrument feel free to e-mail me directly or order in our store.

Musical Instrument Construction

 

A musical instrument is perhaps the ultimate multi-disciplinary object; a coalescence of history, physics, mathematics, art and science. People from all cultures manifest an astonishing capacity and range of creativity when it comes to the design, construction, function and cultural context of musical instruments and sound making devices. 

 

I have been constructing a variety of wind, string and percussion instruments, for over 40 years, including flutes made of clay, bamboo and bone, bull roarers, drums, didgeridoos, conch shell trumpets, various African stringed instruments and a variety of percussion instruments. Much of this was part of a greater study, or a means to have instruments that were too difficult or expensive to acquire otherwise. 

 

When I began building the West African 10 string Kamale Ngoni, I found something that deeply satisfies both the artist as well as the musician in me.  It is very sculptural in form, with its “mixed media” construction of wood, gourd, animal skin, metal and 10 strings of fishing line, with 5 on the left side and 5 on the right. This “bi-hemispherical” arrangement is a reflection of our 2 sided brains, so some say the kamale  ngoni teaches us to integrate duality so that we can navigate a middle path, between extremes.

 

Some kamale ngonis that I have built are in the collections of, and being played by musicians of note, including Bonga Jean Baptiste, Joakim Lartey and Evry Mann. 

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THOMAS WORKMAN