The ngoni is a typically African stringed instrument from Mali formed of a resonant shell covered with a goatskin (or a wooden cover), with a wooden handle. The strings, made of nylon, are attached with rings, parallel to the handle which follows the same line as the shell.

The kamele ngoni (“young man’s instrument”) of six to eighteen strings, tuned to a pentatonic scale with the musician’s voice, is a harp-lute, cousin to the kora.

There are two principal variants of kamele ngoni:

  • the Malian kamele ngoni, played from left to right, mounted with a smaller calabash, open halfway or three quarters of its height. This type of ngoni has a powerful sound, but with less bass and roundness. The distance between the two rows of strings on its bridge is small (1,5-2 cm), which allows the player to pass easily from one row to the other with the same hand,
  • the Burkinabe kamele ngoni is played from right to left. It is generally mounted with a larger calabash and a different shape, open three quarters of the way up. This ngoni offers a deep, voluminous sound but it is not that strong. The distance between the two rows of strings on its bridge is quite wide (3- 3,5 cm), because musicians from Burkina Faso do not ever let the thumb pass between the two rows to play the opposite strings with the same hand.

The mounting of the kamale ngonis offered here associate the specificities and qualities of the different variants of the instrument.

Our ngonis allow you to practice both playing techniques. For practical reasons however, they are mounted right-handed, in the Burkina Faso way, which does not impede the Malian way of playing, but right-handed.

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