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Khoisan Area Instruments. Population Density. Khoisan Area. Khoisan Area. (1979). 2001. Instrument Categories. Wind Horns, penny whistle String Cacoxe, Serankure, Musical bow Percussion bell, hungu, mukupela, puita, saxi, thumb piano, Ngoma, Sanza, singing. Horns Vandumbu

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khoisan area
Population Density

Khoisan Area

Khoisan Area



instrument categories
Instrument Categories
  • Wind
    • Horns, penny whistle
  • String
    • Cacoxe, Serankure, Musical bow
  • Percussion
    • bell, hungu, mukupela, puita, saxi, thumb piano, Ngoma, Sanza, singing
wind khoisan area


soft wood trumpet

covered with

matted fibres


antelope's horn with a

resonator greased

with beeswax

Penny Whistle

or tin flute is played in a local style with an unusual oblique positioning of the lips and tongue blowing over the end of the flute

Wind – Khoisan Area
string khoisan area


This is a monochord bowed trough zither. They would have originally been stringed with sinew, wire is now used, and have calabash or ostrich shell resonators

String – Khoisan Area
string khoisan area6
String – Khoisan Area
  • Musical Bow

A bow-shaped chordophone made of wood and string.

percussion khoisan area

Clochas, otherwise known as double-bells are one of the traditional instruments of Angola which were made by the musicians themselves.


The Hungu, also known as the Mbulumbumba, can best be described as an ancestor to the Brazilian berimbau.

A small stick is used to strike the string of the bow which vibrates and is amplified by a gourd held against the stomach.

Percussion – Khoisan Area
percussion khoisan area8


Kwita, Mpwita (friction drum).

The drum's membrane is pierced once or twice to allow a wooden rod or cord (made of horsehair) or leather thong to pass back and forth. The membrane vibrates and produces a sound which can be modulated by controlling the pressure.

Percussion – Khoisan Area
percussion khoisan area9
Percussion – Khoisan Area
  • Saxi

Known commonly as maracas made from maboque with dry seeds (or glassbeads in recent times) that are placed inside via a few small holes. The Bavugu is based on the movement of compressed air. Three greased gourds are played using the hand over one of the holes, while the other is open and closed by pressing it against the thigh. It's used by the Kung people.

  • Thumb Piano

Kisanji. Thumb pianos are often played at significant occasions –

worship, funeral dirges

(komba di tokwa),

spiritual songs,

the arrival of rain

and so on. There

are a variety of

rhythms used in

the music: Kabetula;

Kilaphanga; Kaduque;

semba (rebita)

and makinu.

percussion khoisan area10

Ngoma is the general name for drum in Bantu language. Its form is generally conical or cylindrical, and can be played as an individual instrument or in an ensemble - sometimes with more than 25 players. Also used in the KwaZulu area are Zion drums and Zulu Hide drums which are hand drums covered in kudu hide.

Percussion – Khoisan Area
percussion khoisan area11
Percussion – Khoisan Area
  • Sanza

Sanza and mbira are the most widespread.

Composed of a series of flexible tongues of uneven length, made of metal or bamboo, fixed to a wooden plate or trapezoid sound-box. The musician holds the instrument in both hands and uses the thumbs to pluck the slightly upturned free end of the lamellae.

percussion khoisan area12
Percussion – Khoisan Area
  • Singing

"Singing makes all the sad people happy because it is the voice of happiness". (Zulu saying)

The singing styles of South Africa and the Zulu people are worthy of special mention. Like much of Africa, music is considered the "food of life”. This enables the communication of emotions and situations which could not be made by talking.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo

khoisan area13
Khoisan Area
  • “Some fought in the field. I fought my battle singing.”

Miriam Makeba

“Mama Africa”


exiled 30 years

khoisan area14
Khoisan Area
  • “ We sang, to build our spirit, to build our courage. I couldn’t sing to save my life. But I would sing to save my country.”

Sifso Ntuli


khoisan area15
Khoisan Area
  • “Without music, our struggle would have been a great deal longer, a great deal bloodier, and perhaps not even succesful.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu