EVAN MILTON : Ngoko Ensemble: The dying art of Xhosa overtone singing

Ngoko Ensemble: The dying art of Xhosa overtone singing

‘Emerging Modernities’ sees the Ngqoko Women’s Ensemble return to Cape Town for an evening of Xhosa overtone singing – as well as modern compositions based on this unique and threatened musical form.

Ngoko Ensemble: The dying art of Xhosa overtone singing

(This column originally appeared in the Cape Argus ‘Tonight; section on 19 – 20 February 2011).

“First you fly to East London, and then get transport to Queenstown, and then to Lady Frere. From there, you go through the mountains, and the roads get harder and harder as you get closer to deeply rural Transkei. Then only can you reach the village,” say Professor Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph, co-leader of a research team with a three year grant from the National Research Foundation to record, document, preserve and work with the women of the Eastern Cape’s Ngqoko Women and their unique form of overtone singing, also called throat-singing or “singing in harmonics”. The women create a low, resonant buzzing sound deep in their throats and then sing above that – with each artists harmonising with her own voice, as well as the rest of the group.

“It’s called umngqokolo singing and was only discovered in 1980 when the missionary and musicologist came across the women,” explains Zaidel-Rudolph. “It’s like the droning of a beetle and no-one knew that there was traditional Xhosa overtone singing in South Africa until that point – it’s not like Mongolian or Tibetan overtone singing at all.”

The 12 members of the Ngqoko Ensemble, will perform a set of traditional songs using umngqokolo, as well as instruments like the umrhubhe (mouth bow), uhadi (gourd bow), and usidiphu (friction drum). Readers interested in traditional African music may recall the ensemble performing at MIAGI in 2007, a series that also featured performances by Madosini, who is dubbed “The Queen of Xhosa Music”. “Madosini shares an inheritance and a tradition with the Ngqoko women,” explains Zaidel-Rudolph, “She’s a soloist, though – a beautiful bow-player, but more of an iconic character with an individual story to tell. The Ngqoko Women are more of a cultural group; they perform  together, telling shared stories.”

The Ngqoko Women sing a style or method of overtone singing that is truly unique. So much so that Zaidel-Rudolph’s co-leader on the research project, Anri Herbst, from the UCT College of Music, has been conducting spectrographic studies in an attempt to understand the wave-forms of sound that the women produce with their throats and mouths.

“We’re in the final phase of the project now, after the recording and transcribing, the writing up of data and the composing,” says Zaidel-Rudolph. “Mainly, this is about them performing their music, and the performance of the new compositions, but we are also all meeting at Groote Schuur, at the ear, nose and throat department where the women have agreed to allow research with stroboscopes to try and understand what they do with their vocal chords to make these sounds.”


The Gordon Institute of Performing and Creative Arts “Emerging Modernities” programme presents the Ngqoko Ensemble on Saturday 19 February at the Hiddingh Hall Campus with an evening of traditional umngqokolo overtone songs, as well as compositions by Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph, Christo Jankowitz and Kerryn Tracey, with Alexander Fokkens as conductor. Details on  021-4807156; full “Emerging Modernities” programme at GIPCA.UCT.ac.za. Also see Overtone.cc.

This column originally appeared in the Cape Argus ‘Tonight; section on 19 – 20 February 2011. Find out more on Tonight.co.za.

https://evanmilton.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/ngoko-ensemble-the-dying-art-of-xhosa-overtone-singing/

DAVE DARGIE : Umngqokolo: Xhosa overtone singing and the song nondel’ekhaya

African Music; Ethnomusicology

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Umngqokolo: Xhosa overtone singing and the song nondel’ekhaya

  • David Dargie University of Fort Hare, Alice

Abstract

This type of gruff singing ‘vocal percussion’ is also used by young men in the Lumko district, but there is another kind of umngqokolo — that used by women and girls — which is a form of overtone singing. At the time of writing (1985), Lumko Missiological Institute was situated at Lumko Mission, 12 kilometres south of Lady Frere, which is a small town some 48 kilometres east of the Cape Province town of Queensland. The name “Lumko”, which means ‘wisdom’, is in fact the name of the family which once owned Lumko as part of their farm.

Published
2017-07-12
How to Cite
Dargie, D. “Umngqokolo: Xhosa Overtone Singing and the Song Nondel’ekhaya”. African Music: Journal of the International Library of African Music, Vol. 7, no. 1, July 2017, pp. 33-47, doi:https://doi.org/10.21504/amj.v7i1.1928.

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DAVE DARGIE : Umngqokolo: Xhosa Overtone Singing and the Song Nondel’ekhaya

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Journal Article

Umngqokolo: Xhosa Overtone Singing and the Song Nondel’ekhaya

David Dargie
African Music
Vol. 7, No. 1 (1991), pp. 33-47
Page Count: 15
Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We’ll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.

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Throat singing in South Africa july 2013

Throat singing in South Africa july 2013

Ajoutée le 2 juil. 2014

Throat singing in South Africa july 2013 in the Univercity at Fort Hare Jackie Janssens alias Jackie J Jassnes from Belgium teaching the locals. Throatsinging in South Africa is done by women. This is unique in the world. They use polyritmes. This is the only existing group (known) of women who still do “Umnokolo”. Umnokolo means rough sound, and is the style in wich they are singing. Proffessor Dargie made interesting resaerch. This litle film was made in the University Fort Hare in South Afrika at the symposium in july 2013. The teacher Jackie Janssens from Belgium More Info: Info@arttout.be

Le quattro voci del canto a tenore [Enciclopedia del canto a tenore]

Le quattro voci del canto a tenore [Enciclopedia del canto a tenore]

Published on Oct 16, 2012

8:47 Preteddu Nanu Poesie Sarde Archivio: http://www.luigiladu.it/poesias/elenc…

Le Canto a tenore, chant pastoral sarde

Le Canto a tenore, chant pastoral sarde

Published on Sep 29, 2009

UNESCO: Liste représentative du patrimoine culturel immatériel de l’humanité – 2008 URL: http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/RL/… Description: Le Canto a tenore est issu de la culture pastorale de Sardaigne. Il sagit dune forme de chant polyphonique à plusieurs voix – bassu, contra, boche et mesu boche – exécuté par un groupe de quatre hommes. Lune de ses particularités est le timbre grave et guttural des voix de bassu et de contra. Les chanteurs forment un cercle et le soliste entonne la mélodie, prose ou poème, tandis que les autres voix laccompagnent en chœur. La plupart des praticiens vivent dans les régions de Barbagia et du centre de lîle. Cet art vocal fait partie intégrante de la vie quotidienne des populations locales. Il est souvent pratiqué de façon spontanée dans les bars locaux, les su zilleri, mais aussi lors de certaines occasions plus officielles comme les mariages, la tonte des moutons, les fêtes religieuses ou le carnaval de Barbaricino. Le Canto a tenore embrasse un vaste répertoire qui varie dune région à lautre. Les mélodies les plus courantes sont la sérénade boche e notte (« la voix de la nuit ») et des chants de danse comme les mutos, gosos et ballos. Les textes sont des poèmes anciens ou de la poésie contemporaine sur des questions dactualité comme lémigration, le chômage ou la politique. En ce sens, ces chants peuvent être considérés comme des expressions culturelles à la fois traditionnelles et contemporaines. Le Canto a tenore est particulièrement vulnérable aux bouleversements socio-économiques tels que le déclin de la culture pastorale et le développement du tourisme en Sardaigne. Il est de plus en plus interprété sur scène pour un public de touristes, ce qui tend à réduire la diversité du répertoire et à altérer le caractère intime de cette musique. Pays: Italie