The kamale ngoni is a six to eight stringed, pentatonic instrument. It evolved from the six string donso ngoni. The donso ngoni originated several hundred years ago and was traditionally played for hunting ceremonies. In recent years the instrument was played by young men for occasions other than hunting. The instrument was given the name kamale ngoni for these purposes. "Kamale" means "young man" in Bambara, Mali's most popular language. So, although the tuning remained the same between the two instruments, the rhythms and melodies completely changed. Within the last 30 years the kamale ngoni has become a popular instrument in Malian music. Similar instruments are the cora and the bolon.
Contact us if you are interested in purchasing a custom made kamale ngoni.
The Kamele ngoni is tuned as follows:for left handed players: from low to high notes, right side and left side.
6 string ngoni
D C A E G E D
for right handed players:
The bolon is a Mandinka instrument traditionally used by farmers to help motivate the workers in the field and for hunting ceremonies. It predates the kamele ngoni and donso ngoni.
The karinye is a percussion instrument that originated in West Africa hundreds of years ago. Originally it was played by two groups of people - hunters (donso) and Griot women. For hunting ceremonies, the karinye was played in a scraping fashion, accompanying the donso ngoni, both instruments playing the same rhythm. The Griot women played the karinye like a bell and sang while performing ceremonies. Today, the karinye is still played by the donso and Griot women, but is also widely used in West African popular music. It accompanies the kamele ngoni with expanded rhythms creating a more complex sound.
The calabas is a percussion instrument made from a hollowed gourd and played with either sticks or hands with a ring worn on one finger. The ring gives a stronger accent sound. In the Wassoulou Region of Mali, the calabas was originally played only by women in ceremonies for brides to be on the eve of their wedding. Now the calabas is played by both men and women throughout Mali for ceremonies, parties, and performances. In Wassoulou, the calabas is played with the instrument on the floor, with the player wearing a ring, whereas in other parts of Mali it's played on the floor using sticks. The Fulani people, however, play the calabas with it held up to their chest and tap on it with their fingers. Another style, played by Malian women, is to embellish the calabas with hanging cowrie shells and toss it in the air and catch it.