Manding Fingerstyle Technique

African music is also commonly referred to as Manding music. In Manding fingerstyle technique, the players use their hands to strike, pluck and perform various complex rhythms on a string instrument called a kora. These techniques can be learned with enough practice and the proper education about the styles and methods involved. Manding music is also commonly known as Mandingo.


There are two main methods of strumming. A single stroke involves striking the strings in a single downward motion without hitting the strings on the way up. A second method involves alternate picking in which you strike the strings both on the way down and up. Alternate picking provides a faster method of strumming that is suitable for fast rhythms. Single strokes are generally more powerful, but with the disadvantage of having to bring your arm all the way back to the starting position.


Posture has a significant effect on the ability of the player to play effortlessly. Tension in the body will prevent the player from having a free and clean fingerstyle technique. The left hand holds the neck of the string instrument, freeing the right hand to strum and pick the strings. The base of the string instrument is supported by the knee, and the player's back is straight with the shoulders slightly back and relaxed. The legs should be shoulder-width apart, whether the player is sitting or standing.


Using the thumb and index finger is an acceptable method to finger-pick on an African stringed instrument. This method will make it more difficult to use the thumb for other purposes, such as playing the bass line. For this reason, most Manding players will use the index and middle finger to play chords. This method takes extra practice, but with enough practice, the necessary finger independence will develop. Practice alternating between both fingers and playing the melody line with the middle finger and the supporting melody with your index finger.


Drumming is also a major part of Manding fingerstyle technique. The drummers typically use an instrument called a djembe. This instrument has an animal skin stretched over the top. The performer uses the tips of his fingers to tap the top of the drum. Performers also will slap the drum with the palm of their hands and use both open and closed hands to hit the drum head.


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