Musical instruments

Musical instruments in Zambia: Chibale

Instruments guided tour 16 March 2022

A variety of musical instruments can be found in Chibale. During the period of the research (1981 until 2013), we came across 67 names of musical instruments. During this period, the general trend was one of declining use of musical instruments. Within this general trend, there is considerable variation depending on the instrument and the specific time span within the period.

Musical instruments in Zambia: kalindula

Instruments in detail 16 March 2022

The make-up of the kalindula band in Chibale is a string bass instrument, a banjo, various iron rattles and one or more drums. It changed especially in the first years after the rise of kalindula, when the localisation of kalindula took place.

Musical instruments in Zambia: specialists’ rattles

Instruments in detail 16 March 2022

All specialists use specific rattles. When they sing and dance, they wear masamba and nsangwa. When they diagnose, they use the musebe or arm nsangwa. And when singing in private they could use the namukalapanda. To mark the differences in purpose and status, these instruments are not referred to as cisekele except when that word is used in the abstract sense of ‘all rattle-like instruments’.

Musical instruments in Zambia: drums

Instruments in detail 16 March 2022

Conical drums are played in sets of three in Chibale. The set is used at larger feasts and rituals. Only on special occasions, like mourning, one drum is played. In the kalindula ensemble, we find one to three drums: conical drums, a bass drum (bita) and sometimes a kaoma (small drum). In church music originally no drums were used, then one or two small drums and, more recently, in some cases two conical drums. Together with the rattles, the drums are the most frequently used musical instruments in Chibale. There are also some historical drums that are still known but are not played anymore.

Musical instruments in Zambia: small bells

Instruments in detail 16 March 2022

In Chibale, Zambia, the ndibu are small bells with clappers, mostly played in pairs. They are worn by dancers, the bells hanging over and among the ropes with bamboo of the dancing skirt. They are not played separately. The bells are said to be of Chikunda origin.

Musical instruments in Zambia: bellows

Instruments in detail 16 March 2022

In former days, iron was smelted and forged that was used in a wide area outside the Lala region. The ore was smelted in an oven fanned by hand bellows and was guided by the singing of songs with the various bellows forming a rhythmical ensemble with an intricate sound.

Musical instruments in Zambia: playing and learning

Instruments topics 16 March 2022

Both in the 1980s and in the 2000s more than 80% of the people in Chibale played one or more musical instruments.
A strict separation between instruments played by women or by men, sometimes found in literature about music in Africa, is not found back in Chibale musical practice.