International Journal of Education & the Arts

Volume 1 Number 3

Table 2

(Note: Suggestions on Playing Multimedia Files)

Characteristic
Examples in Namibia
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Musical Action
Predominantly vocal

Musical Bow (.wav, 260 Kb)
(.wav indicates a sound file)

Most music is sung, either with or without instrumental accompaniment
Variety of instrumental types and combinations Instruments are used singly or in ensemble.

Solo instruments are common, e.g. pluriarcs in Kunene region, Nyae Nyae area, Ohangwena, Oshana, Oshikoto, Omusati regions; musical bows, braced & unbraced, mouth- and gourd-resonated in all northern regions, particularly common north-west and north-east; wooden drums, single membraned and conical, mostly with socles common in all northern regions, clay pot drums previously in south; friction drum in several northern regions; 3 stringed lute in north-west; lamellophones of various kinds in northern regions; wide variety of percussive, concussive, scraped and shaken instruments of metal and wood, also seeds, etc.; only 1 indigenous xylophone (silimba) in Caprivi; horns, flutes and whistles, also wurwurs in all regions (more common in the past).

Combinations of instruments more diverse in north-eastern regions, e.g. 3 drums, silimba, whistle, shakers/rattles (+ friction drum) in Caprivi; drums, rattles, plaques, & horn in efundula in Oukwanyama; etc. Almost always with singing.

Clapping of hands almost always an integral part of the music.

Dances—groups with solos and duos taking turns; small groups; whole group; with and without instruments

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Rituals

Birthings

Omakamba (.ram, 635Kb)
(.ram indicates a video file)

Birthing and name-giving songs e.g. omapiitho [Ndonga], eluko lyokanona [Kwanyama], ondoro and omakamba [Ovahimba]

Omapiitho and ondoro are performed by women, omakamba by men

Initiations or transformations such as first menstruation and circumcision, readiness for marriage, etc. N!angtzs,tcqm[Ju/'hoan], simbayoka [Valozi],efundula, ohango [Aawambo], etanda, ethuko [Ovazemba], okupita, ouhwame [Ovahimba], !khae-oms, kharuns [Nama], etc.
Weddings Mixtures of western (church) and indigenous wedding practices and music (e.g. efundula leengoma [Kwanyama] and iiyimbo yoohango [ Ndonga],Gb [Nama], outjina [Herero].
Death, funerals Often funeral followed by anniversary remembrance ceremony 1 year later, e.g. ondiro followed by okwiambera [Ovahimba], okulila at okupilulula [Ovazemba]
Calling for blessings of rain For such a dry country, surprisingly rare. Northern regions (odila and rengo) and in the past mi!nas [Nama] in the south.
Healings/curings

Sambyu (.ram, 1.08 Mb)

Healing/curings today most common in north and north-eastern regions, e.g. nyakasanga, kayowe, liyala [Valozi], n/om tzs [Ju/'hoan]; mayimbwe [Sambyu]; olundongo or orondongo [Tjimgambwe and Ovahimba]; divare and mandengure [Hambukushu], etc.
Work-related Hunting forms a large portion of Ju/'hoan traditions, e.g. /ho tzi and n/om tzs. Previously /gais was a Damara practice that referred to a hunting song/dance (also healing). Songs for cultivating, harvesting, planting, maize-stamping are ondjambi or iikungungu [Ndonga], separating corn from chaff - okuyela [Kwanyama]; cattle-herding - iidhano yoongombe nuusita [Kwanyama], milk-shaking - ondjupa [Kwaluudhi], water-carrying, building, slaughtering, etc.
Games/play/socializing

Ondjongo (.ram, 1.6 MB)

A large proportion of Namibian dances are referred to as play. These occur commonly at social gatherings of all age groups - e.g. oudano / uudhano (dances of young ladies) [Kwanyama and Ndonga]; tsamma game, rope game [Ju/'hoan], ondjongo, omukwenga, outetera [Ovahimba], ongandeka, omutjopa, omakamba, okusela, onkankula [Ovazemba], omupembe [Ngandjera], omuhiva [Herero], siyamboka [Valozi],/gais, abate [Damara], etc. In many of the above, the idea of play lies in the fact that individuals or small groups enter a circle and perform according to their custom, and 'give' the game to somebody else by touching, gesturing, or the next in line. All others participate by singing, clapping, encouraging.
Celebrations Harvests (epera, shiperu, diperu, yitorondondwa), cultural festivals, national days (oudano, ondjongo, etc.), many others.
Performance music Performed for an audience (even imagined), all regions, but most common in central and southern regions, e.g., aksieliedjies and konsertliedjes, Herero narratives.
Self-delectation Sung/played mostly for personal pleasure, e.g. musical bows, pluriarcs, lamellophones, and songs like lullabyes, parent-child songs.
Power/politics/history

Okutena Ozongombe (.wav, 653 Kb)

Praise songs for royalty and leaders; music for when leaders call a cattle-gathering -ongovela or omaludi eengombe [Ndonga]; historical remembrance of leaders of the past; ancestors, lineage and possessions - okutena ozongombe [Ovazemba], political rallies and national holidays.
Religious/spiritual music Formal church music using creative assimilation of western forms and harmony. Other spiritual gatherings, such as ancestral communication, healing divinations (e.g. liyala) or bewitching each has its own musical characteristics.
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Structural Organization
Call and response

Structures (.ram, 1.2 MB)

Found in most parts—both antiphonal and responsorial.
Ostinati

Otjihumba (.wav, 485 Kb)

Mostly in instrumental musics, e.g. silimba (xylophone), otjihumba (pluriarc), otjisandji (lamellophone) and various bows.
Imitation

Omukwenga (.wav, 243Kb)

Occurs in both vocal and instrumental musics, with antiphonal singing being a typical imitative form.
Repetition and variation Commonly found, major structural techniques
Cyclic songs Commonly found, short songs repeated with variations
Strophic songs Many konsertliedjies of Damara, Afrikaner, German and Tswana
Free form songs Ovazemba praise songs (okutena) long free form three tone songs/ narratives praising ancestors and cattle.
Voice with instrumental interlude Narrative songs with solo pluriarc (otjihumba) interludes and accompaniment [Ovahimba and Ovazemba], mouthbow with chanting (Hakahona)
Binary songs Many of the konsertliedjies have two sections, but the whole is repeated for as long as wished [Damara and Afrikaner]
Circular The majority of Namibian dances are organized around circles, with performers moving to the center while onlookers clap and sing—ondjongo [Ovahimba],omutjopa,onkandeka [Ovazemba], divare [Hambukushu], nyakasanga [Silozi], outjina [Herero] etc.
Linear Dances such as epera [Vakwangali} have two line facing one another, also seen in konsertliedjies [Damara], onyando [Ovazemba] and sometimes omupembe [Ngandjera]
Taking individual turns to play

Oudano (.ram, 765 Kb)

Ondjongo {Ovahimba], onkankula [Ovazemba], Melon and Rope games [Ju/'hoan] but it is also possible to play in twos or more.
Playing in twos

Omutjopa (.ram, 468 Kb)

Omupembe (.ram, 1.2 Mb)

Oudano [Kwanyama], omutjopa, onkandeka [Ovazemba], omupembe [Ngandjera], epera [Vakwangali]
Larger numbers of people play/dance at the same time Konsertliedjies {Damara and Tswana], Namastap [Nama], pele [Valozi], tcoqma [Ju/'hoansi], etc.
Informal Play without music, e.g. omakamba [Ovahimba] okusela [ Ovazemba] where actions and free sounds are performed by 1 or more persons who wish to.
Phase one—singing and clapping. Phase two—playing/dancing. Ondjongo [Ovahimba], omukwenga [Ovahimba], okankula [Ovazemba]
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Tonal Organization
Multipart music Both polyphonic and homophonic textures are common. In central & southern regions - three & four part harmony; elsewhere (western) harmony not common, rather melodic patterns, sometimes 2 or 3 simultaneously or in counterpoint (north); polyphony and parallelism in Nyae Nyae area; monophony, heterophony as well as occasional homophony in north-west.
Concepts of pitch 'High' is often thought of as small (or near the ground); 'low' is big (especially in northern parts. In homophonic styles tessitura is fairly fixed, but in certain other song styles [e.g. Ju/'hoan] tessitura is not necessarily limited and melodic parts may be interchangeable.
Interrelations of tones

/gais (.ram, 1.2 Mb)

Diverse tonal systems. Tones used may be equidistant or diatonic; may be organized in systems of 4 or 6 [Ju/'hoansi], 5 tones [Batswana, Hambukushu, Vakwangali]; 7 tones equidistant [ 'old' Owambo songs] or 7 tones diatonic. Melodies based on arrangements of contiguous tones are common in the north-west, while the Ju/'hoansi use larger intervals—4ths, 5ths, and 7ths.

Instrumental tuning systems may differ completely from western pitch organization, so that a melody cannot be replicated on a keyboard or written staff (e.g. 'old' silimba).

Melodic patterns and techniques

//ab (.ram, 756 Kb)

Generally short repeated melodic patterns,in some northern regions descending patterns are common [Vakwangali, Valozi].Tonal languages affect melodic contour (voice inflection gives meaning to words) leading to parallelism [Damara, Ju/'hoan].

Overlapping [e.g. Ju/'hoan and Ovahimba music]

Drone—in solo songs accompanied by a gourd?resonated bow (omburumbumba) and also men's part in ondjongo [ Ovahimba].

Hocket technique—//ab [Nama] reed (or paw paw) pipe music.

Margin of tolerance Allowance is often made for variance of pitch. This applies to tuning of instruments (e.g. silimba and lamellophones) as well as singing—some Ovahimba songs may sound like a 'minor' key in one performance & like a 'major' in another.
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Rhythmic Organization
Pulses Quite fast in central north, moderate in most other parts

Juxtaposition of 2s, 3s and 4s create rhythmic complexity, especially in north-east Caprivi.

Reference beats Coincidence of pulses sounded by different musicians, the junction of concurrent patterns—articulated in the dance, also stresses caused by language.
Timelines or periods Time-line patterns appear to relate to mnemonic patterns in the minds of musicians, e.g., kilindingili kindi. In north-west dochmiac combinations (3, 3, 2) are very common [Ovahimba, Ovazemba].
Cycles Vary in length even in one area. A song may contain two cycles of differing length, e.g., Taliyowoya [Vakwangali].
Rhythmic patterns

Clapping (.wav, 195 Kb)

Often most noticeable in clapping patterns [Aawambo, Ovahimba, Ovazemba, etc.]. Drummers learn their patterns by means of mnemonics, e.g. machakili, or pundu, or kitinki ndinki. Relationships (entry points) among patterns are crucial.

Dochmiac patterns are common in the north-west. Patterns interlock, e.g., drumming patterns, also dancing and vocal patterns.

Tempo variations Music is meant to be danced, therefore variations in tempo during performance are not common.
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Quality of Sound
Vocal

Outjina (.ram, 639Kb)

Vocal techniques include relaxed open-throated sound (common amongst male singers, also female Ovahimba singers, and in Outjina from the Hereros); a tight, constricted sound (commonly found in female voices in north-east); humming [Damara and Nama] and a forced trembling tone in Ovahimba ondjongo songs; shouting or crying [Ju/'hoansi] tcqm and [Ovazemba] onkandeka, yodelling [Ju/'hoansi], ululation (common); grunting, whooping, and imitating animal sounds [Ovazemba] in omutjopa, omuhela and okusela and [Ovahimba] ombimbi and omakamba.
Instrumental In Namibia idiophones, chordophones and membranophones are the most common. The characteristic timbre of each instrument contributes to the meanings and symbolisms which have become attached to them. Some instruments have secondary sistra and mirlitons added to create the required buzzing effect.

Large instrumental ensembles not common.

Tone intensity Strong variation and shading of tone intensity is rare, except in acculturated music. Self-delectative music is quiet and of low intensity. Purpose dictates strength of tone.
Textures In some areas instrument tend to duplicate what singers/dancers are doing, e.g., drums and clapping in oudano, ekoteko, etc. [Ndonga], while in others the texture is more complex with silimba, drums and rattles all complementing vocals—nyakasanga, siyamboka [Valozi], divare [Hambukushu].
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Sound and Movement Conceptualization
Categories The meaning of the song/dance is largely dictated by its purpose. The way people categorise their musical repertoire includes inclusions and exclusions of age, status, gender. Generally the (holistic) single term used for a category includes the repertoire of songs associated with it, the dance, the time and season, the rhythmic patterns, the melodic structures, exclusions, and the meaning. For example the term ondjongo refers to the full repertoire of songs, the specific clapping patterns, the movement components and modalities, body postures and the structure and meaning of the event.
Mental templates of clapping patterns, drumming patterns, melodic patterns Cultural insiders have, over years of enculturation, developed mental templates of the sounds and movements that belong together, the patterns involved, and the context for use. Different elements and patterns identify a particular category and guide the user in terms of performance.
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