The music of mouth bows

The mouth bow is the simplest instrument of musical bows family, which also includes berimbau or pluriarc (we will talk about later). It is basically a string stretched by a folded branch, the musician’s mouth is used as a sounding box, which allows to articulate the sound and to play with the harmonics.


Simon Winsé
, with his musical bow lolo, tell the story of a warrior discovering the music of his bow, breaking the arrow to hit the string and giving up war for the love of music. Ethnologists, with less poetry, put the discovery of musical bow before throwing an arrow with. More logical but I prefer Simon‘s version.

In addition to the stick, a piece of wood in the other hand allows to change the pitch. For aka pygmies’ mbela bow, the stick is flexible and can go through the string to play up and down.

The string can be bowed, like the umrhube of the great Madosini, which uses a unique technique whistling and singing while playing her bow.

Even more astonishing, the chizambe, the musician scrapes on the wood with a stick to indirectly put the rope in vibration!

We could talk about the cosmicbow by Christopher Vila Monasterio, but the strings are no longer stretched by the tension of a branch but by tuning pegs, we have a mouth zither, and we will see that later!

About Nicolas Bras 12 Articles
Homemade Instrument maker, rare and strange instrument seeker / Bricoleur d'instruments, chercheur d'instruments rares

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