Although musical bows are sadly a disappearing species, nevertheless examples of them are still in use in the great majority of people/language groups in Southern Africa. The bows are deceptively simple instruments, and easily undervalued by outside observers, but nevertheless they have played important roles among the peoples who use them. They have had a powerful influence on the musical techniques of those people – uses of scale, harmony and rhythm. The songs sung with bows are important carriers of traditional heritage. These songs tell of the lives and culture of the peoples, now and in the past, in many ways. They may also carry important insights into the history of the peoples. It is most comforting that steps are being taken to preserve the heritage of Southern African musical bows, at different educational institutions including at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. The address will illustrate the various points mentioned with examples from different population/language groups in the region.
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