Music game

Mr. A Ngema of Ndundulu says music is making a melody and creating personal things to sing about.


1 The person consulted
2 Who plays this game?
3 What equipment is used to play this game?
4 Where is this game played?
5 How is this game played?
6 Reed-pipes
7 The person consulted
8 Reed-whistles
9 How is the game played?
10 ‘Dloko’ instrument
11 How is this game played?
12 Custom associated with this game
13 Source

The person consulted
Mr. A Ngema of Ndundulu, Melmoth explained about the music game. He also explained about reed-pipes and reed-whistles.

Who plays this game?
This game is played by boys from 6 years upwards.

What equipment is used to play this game?
Boys would create their own instruments to make music such as reed-pipes, reed-whistles, and others.

Where is this game played?
This game is played either in the homestead yard, in the pastures or cleared field.

How is this game played?
Boys would make up their instruments to play music with.

Mr. A Ngema of Ndundulu says boys made up reed-pipes using reeds and make music with these. They would bore holes on the reed which when blowing on the reed they would close up interchangeably thus producing music.

Shabane (1997: 66) reports on his discussions with Thabani Mahlobo, Dumisani Luthuli, Sabelo Ngcamu and Bonakele Mbanjwa (1995, 1996) who gave further explanations about reed-pipes. They maintain that a reed-pipe would have 4 holes pierced using a large heated needle. One of the holes is close to the closed up part of the reed.

The person consulted
Mr. A Ngema of Ndundulu, KwaZulu gave the explanation about how this game was played. He clarified that the reed-pipe was an instrument made by boys using reed. They would blow into the reed-pipe to make music. Boys would cut the reed into the desired length and then bore a hole to blow into. Then they would pierce smaller holes so that when they blow into the pipe, they would interchangeably close the holes thus producing different sounds.

Mr. Ngema says that reed-whistles are made up by cabbage tree wood. This wood is made hollow with openings on both sides. People would blow into this instrument to make music. These days people even use iron pipes to make this instrument.

How is the game played?
Reed-whistles are also made up from reed or cabbage-tree wood. The reed is made hollow with holes on each end. This instrument makes beautiful melody when blown into. When reed is used only one hole is made through the reed. The reed-whistle is played in the same way as the whistle made out of cabbage-tree.

‘Dloko’ instrument
According to Mr. Ngema, this instrument is made by boys using a stick, empty paraffin tin and “uthaka”. They make music with these. Shabane (1997: 64) from the discussion held with Senzeni Nhlebela reports that the stick used is bent nicely and tied firmly with a string from the male bush-buck. Sometimes a string from the ox’s tail smeared with bird-lime is used. Even a simple string was used and a sweet melody was produced by this instrument.

How is this game played?
Boys make up this instrument for themselves. They fell a tree branch and chip it off nicely, then they look for an empty paraffin or oil tin and pierce a hole through it. The boy would insert “uthaka” into the tin and tie it up. Then particles would be put inside the tin. After all this the boy would play his music using the strings attached to the tin. Boys can even add songs as they play the instrument.

Custom associated with this game
African people are experts in music. By nature they love singing. Others sing with their voices whereas others make up music instruments to play with. Music is an age-old tradition. People used waste material like empty tins to make music instruments.

From a Masters dissertation by Victoria Mkhize for the School of IsiZulu, University of KwaZulu-Natal. Supervised by Professors P.J. Zungu and V. Prabhakaran.

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