Author Topic: Learning how to play the Mougongo.  (Read 2333 times)

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Offline holybark

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Learning how to play the Mougongo.
« on: January 09, 2014, 10:51:57 PM »
I just recently started learning how to play an African style ratan mouth bow or Mougongo.  It is very difficult to get the hang of, especially without some guidance or lessons, but really rewarding.  I am having some trouble getting it to sound louder, I imagine it has to do with the way you use your mouth as the sound chamber. Does the size of the bow itself increase or decrease the volume? Here is a rough recording I did. https://www.dropbox.com/s/7iv6szx0fnxdpzx/mougongo%201.mp3 Please excuse the sound quality and my LOUD nose breathing (I'm a little congested).  I would really appreciate any feedback, pointers, and/or guidance. 

With love and respect,
HB
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 11:10:56 PM by holybark »
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Offline RhythmSpring

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Re: Learning how to play the Mougongo.
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2014, 11:43:24 AM »
Me too! Did you get yours from Danmoi?

I'm listening to the recording. Who's playing shaker? I assume not you...

A few tips:
Move the little stick that changes the tuning closer to the edge. The interval you should be getting is about a whole step. Right now you're getting about a minor third, maybe more.
Get your mouth big and over/around the rattan--as close to it as you can without touching. Try puckering, maybe?
With the long narrow stick, hit it as close as you can to the edge. Make sure it's flatly hitting the rattan.
And then make sure your lips are as close to where you are hitting it as possible. All the action should be happening very close to the edge.

It doesn't sound that quiet. I'm not sure if the size of the bow changes the volume, but the tension certainly does. The tighter it is, the louder it is (and higher pitched, of course). It sounds like yours is a tad on the loose side. But if you don't know what you're doing with tightening, I wouldn't risk it. I tried tightening mine, and now it's looser...

I'm so glad to see/hear other people taking up the mougongo.

Offline holybark

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Re: Learning how to play the Mougongo.
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2014, 10:53:59 PM »
RhythmSpring! Thank you!
     
I also got mine from Danmoi. I got the smaller size.  I actually over dubbed the rattle.  I just did a haphazard double track recording with my computer mic on garageband.  Thank you for the great tips! Especially the whole step interval bit.  It's definitely a strange instrument to get used to.  I whacked myself in the face with the stick a lot when I first started lol.  I'm starting to think the size has more to do with the pitch and not volume.  Since reading your reply, I have been experimenting with different mouth positions, and shapes, and find that it helps the volume (along with tightening the rattan).  I just recently tightened it a lot more but ended up breaking off some of the rattan. Luckily it's not totally snapped, and they shipped a spare. 

One question.  What position do you sit in and what angle do you hold the bow in for optimal ease in playing?

Again, thank you for your reply, it was very informative.
I'm not in your trap, I'm in my own trap.

Offline RhythmSpring

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Re: Learning how to play the Mougongo.
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2014, 10:19:34 AM »
Cool, how did you tighten it? That's something I'd like to do to mine, but I'm not sure how, and I'm afraid of it slipping and becoming totally loose (which happened a couple days after it arrived).

The position: Sit on a flat surface, like your bed or the floor. Not a chair. Sit with your butt on the floor and your knees bent at right angles in front of you. The bow lies at sort of a 45° angle wedged snug in between your legs, if I recall correctly. So you're turned somewhat to your right as you play.

Offline holybark

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Re: Learning how to play the Mougongo.
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2014, 03:24:34 PM »
         I did a very sloppy job tightening it, however, it still functions well.  Basically i removed the rattan from the notch on the short end of the bow.  Then, with the long end of the bow on the ground, I pushed the bow on the ground, slightly bending it, being very careful i didn't crack it.  While doing this I pulled the rattan tight, wrapped it around the bow, and used pliers to pull it back into the notch.  Unfortunately, from previous attempts to tighten it, I had ripped off the excess rattan needed to tie a knot so it doesn't slip loose.  It still has yet to slip loose, probably because I wrapped it around the bow, and stuck the rattan in the notch pretty good.  But the rattan is splintering and could break at any time. 

        Anyway, thanks for your advice, I'm starting to get the hang of this.  Learning how to play a Mougongo really gives me a new level of respect for people who can play very well.  Some of the mouth/ lip movements they do are very very difficult and seem counter intuitive to me.  As well as the accuracy and force they play with.  Very cool instrument.   
« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 03:27:09 PM by holybark »
I'm not in your trap, I'm in my own trap.