Posts Tagged ‘Umtshingo’
Aside from the Kenyan flutes, Kenya has perhaps one of the most diverse assortments of popular music forms, in addition to multiple layers of folk music based on the variety over 40 regional languages. Different ethnic groups each have their own folk music traditions using many different instruments.
Like most African music, Kenyan music is not made for its own sake. Music was functional. It was used for ceremonial, religious, political, or incidental purposes. Kenyan musical instruments range from percussion to strings to wind instruments.
The Indweba is a kind of pan pie that can be made from made the umhlanga river reed. Whistles of various materials are associated with indigenous medicine, divinatory practices, casting spells, and ventriloquism among the Bantus of Kenya. The Indweba are normally made of animal bones, horns, wood, and reed and typically filled with potent ointments, powders, sometimes with snuff of various snake-poison antidotes.
Another example of a Kenyan flute is the Umtshingo. It is a seven-holed flute that can be made of uqalo bamboo, umhalanga river reed, or dried ummbila corn-stalk. Among the Bantu of south eastern Africa (particularly rural Kwazulu-Natal) the flutes were made and played by prepubescent boys when herding cattle and goats.
The name “Umtshingo” is literally translated as that which has to be discarded because there was a strict rule against whistling and blowing on flutes either indoors or within the grounds of a homestead, for fear of disturbing the family’s departed spirits, or the “sleeping ones.” On returning with their animals at the end of the day, the young people had to hide, or discard their flutes, hence the name “Umtshingo.”
The “Umtshingo-mbatho” is a flute-apron that can be worn as a garment, the flute being horizontally draped, yoke-like, behind the shoulders with grass mat-strips hanging in front and behind the body. A five-holed variation on Umtshingo, it is blown in the middle.
These are just some examples of Kenyan flutes.