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Record details


Instrument played across the African continent.

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery
Wood, vegetable fibre and organic material

Instruments have been made and played in Africa for thousands of years. The Pluriarc precedes the African harp and European intervention by several centuries and was first observed by Europeans in 1619.

The Pluriac contains 5 bows made of branches. Each string would have been made from a vegetable fibre and been attached to the five flexible branches. The strings are then tuned by creating a tension using the curve of the sticks. The branches are attached to a wooden sound box, which had a hole in the front for the sound to come out. The shape suggests that it comes from West Africa, the Congo or Gabon. The Seki people who live here are well known for their skill with wood.
The pluriarc is played on a variety of occasions. The instrument is played at public events, in orchestas and solo settings. It is an instrument often used at funerals due to its low tones.  At the funeral of a prominent person, both their qualities and the details of their life are commemorated in song. Sometimes the playing goes on for hours, and the musician is carried around whilst playing.

Researched as part of the Knowledge of the unseen project.

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Not on display