Maskanda Guitar


Shiyani Ngcobo, with acoustic guitar

Lovers of traditional guitar styles will appreciate the virtuosity displayed by South African Maskanda guitarist Shiyani Ngcobo on this solo recording of “Kheta Eyakho”:

edited from,, and Kathryn Olsen:

Maskanda is a subgenre of Zulu folk music, born in South Africa. Often played on acoustic guitars, there is a specific technique to playing Maskanda music. The guitarist uses his thumb and index finger independently of each other, the thumb playing double-time staccato bass runs, while the index finger picks a countermelody.

There is a very percussive quality to the guitar playing. Some Maskandi play with finger picks, to get a more percussive attack on the strings. Other common Maskanda instruments include violins, concertinas, mouth organs, and jaw harps. Male Maskandi traditionally play guitar, concertina, or violin, while women Maskandi more often play mouth organs or jaw harps.

The music has improvisational elements, allowing musicians to compose and compete with one another. And while the guitarist is considered the quintessential Maskandi musician, there are many virtuosic, well-respected Maskandi who play violin or concertina.

The tunings vary from guitarist to guitarist; many invent their own and become fiercely protective of them. There are some widely shared tunings. The most common drops the first treble E string down to D. One variation on this replaces the D fourth string with a nylon first string and tunes it in unison to the D first string. This is known as “double first” tuning, pronounced dabul fersi.

Harmonies based on a hexatonic scale rise out of the juxtaposition of triads a tone apart,the interwoven rhythmic pulse, and the inclusion of izibongo (praisepoetry)


2 Responses to “Maskanda Guitar”

  1. Richard Selman Says:

    I could listen to that all day long. Thanks for posting!

  2. Edwardo Roehrich Says:

    great google

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