A variety of instruments are used in
Traditional Boer Music and those listed here represent a short
summary. The combination of instruments vary from band to band
and might also change during a performance. More information on
different bands and their usage of instruments may be found in
The concertina is mostly
the lead instument in a Boer Music Band. The folk names for the
instruments differs somewhat from the international convention
and separates them in two broad categories nl. "British Concertinas"
and "Boer Concertinas". It should be noted that "British
Concertinas" in this context refers to all instruments that
are manufactured using the British construction techniques and
does not mean a specific keyboard layout such as the "English"
system. The distinction is made on physical appearance and the
tone that is produced. The term "Boer Concertinas" in
this context refers to all multiple reeded instruments that are
generally produced using the German construction techniques.
The classification on physical appearance does
tend to cause some confusion since the international naming convention
is based on the keyboard layout. Instuments can appear similar
to the untrained eye yet differ radically in fingering system.
The construction technique of
British Concertinas use a radial sound chamber arrangement to
house the reeds. Instruments that utilize accordion type reeds
but have a similar outward appearance and use single reeds also
fall in this category.
There are numerous different button arrangements and the note
that is produced can differ depending on the direction of bellows
movement. This is not intended to be a comprehensive listing of
keyboard layouts but rather a description of what each sub-group
of folk names means. Each instrument type has developed a specific
style of music that all falls within the broad spectrum of Boer
Music. Below are a few examples:
The instruments that
are categorized as "Boer Concertinas" differ dramatically
in physical appearance, construction, size and sound produced.
The keyboard layout corresponds to a 20-button Anglo Chromatic
concertina with the exception of one bass note. The sides are
mostly made from wood and the instruments can sometimes be very
colourful. The fretwork that is characteristic of British concertinas
is absent. In some models the bellows are decorated with a paper
floral pattern. The corners are fitted with chrome or brass decorative
The sound is produced
by a minimum of two reeds per note. Common manufacturers were
"Sholer" and "Galotta" from the East German
Democratic Republic. "Bastari" and "Stagi"
are of Italian origin and also fall in this category even though
some may be purchased with some notes reversed. (Compressing the
bellows generates a note that is normally produced with a draw
action on the standard keyboard) The band of Willie Nelson utilizes
a Bastari Boer Concertina. Other manufactureres are "Gallotone",
South African Concertina manufacturers.
|The button action of Boer
Concertinas are normally made from wood and not very complex.
|The reedpan of a Boer Concertina
contains accordion style reeds that are arranged in a linear
fasion and sound simultaneously. There are not stops like
on an accordion.
|A Bastari Boer Concertina
has a reed layout similar to above but with a button action
made of metal.
|Decoration on Bellows
Please visit the page on learning
to play for more information on the different keyboard layouts.
The rhythm guitar is the foundation
of accompaniment in a Boer Music Band and a band without at least
one guitar is unthinkable. The strumming is very strong rhythmic
and can sometimes add counterpoint to the melody. When the guitar
is used as the lead instrument to play the melody, there is still
strong rhythm accompaniment and character of the music remains
distinctly Boer Music.
Just like the guitar, the banjo
is used as rhythm instrument as well as lead instrument. The Ukulele
has the appearance of a small banjo.
The Piano Accordion as well
as the Button Accordion has always played a less prominent role
in Boer Music than the concertina. Piano Accordions as well as
Button Accordions and Button Harmonicas are mostly used for accompaniment.
There are also some bands that feature them as the lead instrument.
Harmonium and Piano
The Harmonium (pump organ) and piano are mostly
used for accompaniment. When these instruments are used to play
the melody like Bettie Ferns, Chris
Buys and Ben Bester, the distinct character of Boer Music
Carolina Leeson played both the harmonium and piano and Jim
Muller is a well known performer on the piano.
The double bass, cello and accoustic bass guitar
are used to provide bass during accompaniment.
Accoustic Bass Guitar
The Harmonica can be used as
lead instrument or accompaniment.
Hannes Buitendag with his harmonica
Other instruments like the Bandoneon are not
very common in South Africa.
can prevent this heritage from being lost for ever.