Umngqokolo of the Xhosa


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Overtone singing umngqokolo of the Xhosa women is polyphonic. The fundamental is sung as an alternating whole-tone note. The bass is produced by undersound throat singing, which is technically equivalent to the kargyraa of the Tuvan people. The overtone melody is conducted above it alternately in parallel and in counterpart.

ARecordings by Prof. Dr. Dave Dargie in South Africa 1985 to 1998. Nowxayilethi Mbizweni sings the song Nondel’ekhaya in umngqokolo, umngqokolo ngomqangi style and in a normal voice.

The polyphony in the sheet music:

Sound sequence from the video from minute 3:50

Literature & Sources

UMNGQOKOLO - Thembu Xhosa - OVERTONE SINGING Filmed 1985-1998 in South Africa, 2012.
“We Can Even Teach You.” - Ngqoko Cultural Group, 2011.
The Ngqoko Women’s Ensemble - Nondel’ekhaya (1), 2008.
WCMA Interviews Madosini, 2008.
Mugongo, Forest’rhythm, 2007.
Madosini Manqina - Queen of South Africa’s Pondoland Music, 2006.
Lucia, Christine. The World of South African Music: A Reader. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2005.
Dargie, David, and International Council for Traditional Music. Conference. Thembu Xhosa Umngqokolo Overtone Singing: The Use of the Human Voice as a Type of “Musical Bow” : A Paper Offered for the I.C.T.M. Conference, Berlin, June 1993. D. Dargie, 1993.
Dargie, David. “Umngqokolo: Xhosa Overtone Singing and the Song Nondel’ekhaya.” African Music 7, no. 1 (January 1, 1991): 33–47.
Dargie, David. Xhosa Music : Its Techniques and Instruments, with a Collection of Songs. 1, [Hauptbd.]. Cape Town [u.a.]: Philip, 1988.
“Dave Dargie :‘Some Recent Developments in Xhosa Music : Activities of the Ngqoko Traditional Xhoa Music Ensemble,and at the University of Fort Hare’. | TRANQUANGHAI’s WORLD.” Accessed February 2, 2012.
“Mongolian Conceptualizations of Overtone Singing (Xöömii).” Accessed January 31, 2012.
“Archival Sound Recordings.” Accessed May 11, 2011.
“36 (SOUTH AFRICA) Two Overtone Songs, Umngqokolo Mp3 - Free Download from 4shared - Filestube.Com.” Accessed May 11, 2011.
“Tran Quang Hai & Bach Yen Website.” Accessed February 2, 2012.
What’s On. “Ngoko Ensemble: The Dying Art of Xhosa Overtone Singing by Evan Milton.” Accessed January 31, 2012.
YouTube. “The Ngqoko Women’s - Ensemble Nxanxadi.” Accessed January 29, 2012.
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