A traditional Ethiopian masinko (left).
(spike bowed lute)
The masenqo (also spelled masenko, mesenqo, mesenko, masinko, or masinqo) is a single-stringed bowed lute commonly found in the musical traditions of Ethiopia and Eritrea. As with the krar, this instrument is used by Ethiopian minstrels called azmaris ("singer" in Amharic) . Although it functions in a purely accompaniment capacity in songs, the masenqo requires considerable virtuosity, as azmaris accompany themselves while singing.
Construction and design
The square- or diamond-shaped resonator is made of four small wooden boards glued together, then covered with a stretched parchment or rawhide. The single string is typically made of horse hair, and passes over a bridge. The instrument is tuned by means of a large tuning peg to fit the range of the singer's voice. It may be bowed by either the right or left hand, and the non-bow hand sits lightly on top of the upper part of the string.
- Shelemay, Kay Kaufman. "Ethiopia", The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. S. Sadie and J. Tyrrell (London: Macmillan, 2001), viii, pp. 355-356.
- Kebede, Ashenafi (January, 1975). "The "Azmari", Poet-Musician of Ethiopia". The Musical Quarterly 61 (1).
- Teferra, Timkehet (2009). "The One-Stringed Fiddle Masinqo: Its Function and Role in Contemporary Ethiopian Music and its Future". Horizon Ethiopia. Retrieved 12 Sept 2011.
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