Zimbabwean music, instruments and educational info - MBIRA is a non-profit organization supporting 300 traditional musicians and instrument makers in Zimbabwe. Are you planning to jumpstart your music career? Njani mbira has 30 to 32 keys and was also originated from Zimbabwe particularly Masvingo and Makonde. A: Well I am a student at the Zimbabwe College of Music and frankly we are required to be well acquainted with most music aspects such as the saxophone, piano, mbira, marimba, music theory itself, among the others. In Shona music, the mbira dzavadzimu ("voice of the ancestors", or "mbira of the ancestral spirits", national instrument of Zimbabwe ) is a musical instrument that has been played by the Shona people of Zimbabwe for thousands of years. [28], The nhare has 23 to 24 keys and was originated from Zimbabwe. The mbira dzavadzimu is frequently played at religious ceremonies and social gatherings called mapira (sing. For over two decades, Magaya trained his son, Mudavanhu (Muda), on how to play and teach mbira. About Us. [15] With the increased popularity of the mbira dzavadzimu in North America, Europe, and Japan in recent decades, Zimbabwean mbira makers have tended to tune their instruments more uniformly for export, but much variation is still found among mbira in their homeland. Piano. Try your own hand at this instrument that has been played for over 1,000 years, while experiencing a story as told through the lens of a Zimbabwean girl who learns to play the mbira. There were thousands of different tunings, different note layouts, and different instrument designs, but there is a hypothetical tuning and note layout of the original metal-tined instrument from 1,300 years ago, referred to as the 'kalimba core'. [16], Tunings vary from family to family referring to relative interval relationships and not to absolute pitches. The variations of notes in an Mbira piece aid the participants in going into trance, which in Shona culture aids the spirits in taking over the participant's body. [22] The seven tunings that Garikayi uses are: Bangidza, Nyabango, Nhemamusasa, Chakwi, Taireva, Mahororo, and Mavembe (all of which are also names of traditional songs save for Mavembe and Nyabango). The mbira is one of several idiophones that are plucked rather than vibrated by percussion, shaken, or scraped. [32], Even though it is set in Botswana, the 1980 movie The Gods Must Be Crazy features a character playing the mbira. Beyond your wildest dreams. How do you know if what you are being taught (or are seeing on YouTube) is the "right" way to play an mbira piece? Continue reading the tabs and play the song. [citation needed]. There is a strong visual component to learning mbira. Violin. Some mbira possess an extra key in the upper left register which is hit from below by the left index finger. Erica Azim, an American mbira player and teacher, encourages her students to listen long and deeply to a song before beginning to play it. Moreover, performance of the piece may consist of repeating the cycle for two minutes or two hours. Lamellophone in Afrika. However, traditional African tunings use notes that do not lie on the grid of the Western tempered scale, and traditional mbira note layouts are often idiosyncratic, sometimes with adjacent tines making part of a scale, but then an odd note thrown in that defies the pattern. "bira"). [33], Archived Link - Mbira.co.zw, "A community of mbira players, researchers, makers & lovers, for the enhancement of the Mbira, music & fashion. Tracey's design was modeled after the mbira nyunga nyunga and named 'Kalimba' after an ancient predecessor of the mbira family of instruments. This is a much harder question to address. Kalimba-like instruments came to exist from the northern reaches of North Africa to the southern extent of the Kalahari Desert, and from the east coast to the west coast, though many or most groups of people in Africa did not possess mbiras. After a lifetime of hearing the music and perhaps already participating through singing, clapping, and dancing, learning to play a song is primarily a technical challenge–how to hold the instrument, locate the appropriate notes and produce proper sound. It is common on African mbira and other lamellophones to have the lowest notes in the center with higher notes to the far left and the far right—this is an ergonomic nicety, in that the thumb can pivot such that all the tines are easy to reach. In Shona music, the mbira dzavadzimu ("voice of the ancestors", or "mbira of the ancestral spirits", national instrument of Zimbabwe[26]) is a musical instrument that has been played by the Shona people of Zimbabwe for thousands of years. [17][18][19][20][21] Names may also vary between different families; Garikayi Tirikoti has developed a "mbira orchestra" that has seven different tunings, each starting on a different interval of the same seven-note scale, where it is possible to play all instruments in a single performance. The African-tuned karimba has a wide and deep repertoire of music from across the vast Zambezi Valley, and is thought to be closely related to the original mbira tuning from 1300 years ago. May 21st marks the beginning of Culture Week in Zimbabwe, and Google is joining in the celebration with a homepage Doodle game that lets you play Zimbabwe’s national instrument, the mbira. How to play the mbira (dza vadzimu) Unknown Binding – January 1, 1970 by Andrew T. N Tracey (Author) See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions. Composer Georg Hajdu has tuned the Hugh Tracey alto kalimba to the chromatic steps of the Bohlen–Pierce scale in a piece called Just Her – Jester – Gesture. And if we do live near someone who plays some mbira, how do we know if we are learning properly? During these all-night ceremonies, people call upon the spirits to answer questions. In Eastern and Southern Africa, there are many kinds of mbira, often accompanied by the hosho, a percussion instrument. Modern kalimba, the mbira inspired instruments of Hugh Tracey. From DC & Neil Gaiman, The Sandman arises only on Audible. Recently a Midlands State University (Gweru, Zimbabwe) lecturer in the department of music and musicology has suggested a letter notation; the upper keys as (from first left upper key) E, D, C, F, C, D, and E and the lower or bottom keys as (from the first lower key) A, G, F, A, F, C, D, and E. But the Maraire number notation has remained the internationally accepted system (Chirimumimba, 2007). Q: What are some of the subjects that you cover in your music? How are we to learn? The doodle also featured the animated story of a young girl who learns to play the mbira and inspires a new generation of mbira players after becoming an established artist as an adult. Those transcribing mbira songs have used Western staff notation as well as tablature which maps the mbira keys to some visual and numeric code. Reflecting on this practice, Pasipamire’s uncle Selestino laughed and recalled how his young nephew used to hang over his shoulder, wide-eyed, every time he played the mbira. The mbira nyunga nyunga is similar in construction to the mbira dzavadzimu, but has no hole in the soundboard. Shona people hear mbira from birth. How to pronounce mbira. [5] Similar instruments were reported to be used in Okpuje, Nsukka area of the south eastern part of Nigeria in the early 1900s. The closest to what is commonly named "Nyamaropa" is his "Nhemamusasa" tuning.[23][24]. Sing or hum along with a melody the mbira is playing which starts at that point — it should be easy to sing and should not include all the notes you are playing. The diatonic western kalimba tuning which Tracey used was practical for a worldwide instrument—with hundreds of African kalimba tunings, the chosen Western standard would maximize the number of people who would immediately connect with the kalimba. I play the nyunganyunga as well as the nhare mbira. Erica Azim points out two aspects of Shona music which make hearing a new mbira song challenging for a non-Shona person. There is not even agreement on the "right" "first" kushaura to Nhemamusasa. Then he would ask to borrow the instrument and would try to work out the parts by himself. If his teacher starts at a different point in the cycle at the next lesson, the student may not even recognize the piece as the one he learned! Board-mounted lamellaphones are often played inside gourds or bowls for increased resonance, and the Historically, women and girls were not allowed to play mbira; therefore, Humwe has made special efforts to include girls in the programmes. [31], Alternative tunings are possible, as the tines of most kalimbas are easily pushed in and out to sharpen or flatten their pitch. We would suggest, however, that in the non-Shona world, where most people learning mbira do not have a lifetime of experience hearing the two parts played together, there may be much merit to learning basic kushaura and kutsihira parts first before moving on to more advanced kushauras. During a public performance, an mbira dzavadzimu is frequently placed in a deze (calabash resonator) to amplify its sound. And inevitably people are presenting mbira parts on YouTube that they have barely learned themselves. Key pitch radiates out from the center, rather than from left to right. Named after the original kalimba (ancestor of mbira). [11][12], Lamellophones are instruments which have little tines, or "lamellae", which are played by plucking. All teachers emphasize the importance of students learning a proper approach to the instruments and to the music. Look to others playing mbira, even online and in communities such as Dandemutande, for guidance. The music and the rhythms are unfamiliar. The Bohlen–Pierce scale subdivides the just twelfth into 13 steps. A typical mbira dzavadzimu consists of between 22 and 28 keys constructed from hot- or cold-forged metal affixed to a hardwood soundboard (gwariva) in three different registers—two on the left, one on the right. We will also, in the near future, offer some beginning lessons for those starting to play mbira. This leaves the thumb and index finger of the right hand open to stroke the keys in the right register from above (thumb) and below (index finger). Play the mbira to celebrate Zimbabwe’s Culture Week! Here are examples from B. Michael Williams' Getting Started with Mbira dzaVadzimu: When presented without audio with which to hear what the notated music is to sound like, such a method works only for those who are accustomed to reading music. These are the melodies which are sung and improvised upon on the mbira; without hearing them, the Western student cannot improvise in a Shona way. There is no WMTA (World Mbira Teachers Association) certifying who is qualified to teach. Claire Jones, a student of Dumisani Maraire in the 1970s, has been playing and teaching mbira for more than 40 years. In order to play a musical instrument one must first learn how to navigate among its notes. The most common tuning played throughout Zimbabwe and among non-Zimbabwean mbira players worldwide is Nyamaropa, similar to the western Mixolydian mode. Tongues may be made small enough to play with individual fingers, hence the colloquial name "thumb piano". Zimbabwe's Dumisani Maraire originated mbira nyunga nyunga number notation. In the end credentials don't mean as much as trusting your gut. Other alternative tunings move the kalimba to non-modal scales (such as Middle-Eastern scales). One significant difference in both structure and listening is that Western music progresses in a linear fashion, while Shona mbira music is completely circular — no note in the cycle is any more the "beginning" or the "end" than any other note. The mbira dzavadzimu is frequently played at religious ceremonies and social gatherings called mapira (sing. Musicologists classify it as a lamellaphone, part of the plucked idiophone family of musical instruments. Listen to the audio pronunciation in the Cambridge English Dictionary. “Learning to play kalimba,” says Andrew Tracey, son of Hugh Tracey, who in the 1950’s created and gave the world a kalimba that the western ear could understand, “is best done by learning from someone who knows how to play kalimba.” Historically, mbira tunings have not mapped exactly onto Western scales; it is not unusual for a seven-note sequence on a mbira to be "stretched" over a greater range of frequencies than a Western octave and for the intervals between notes to be different from those in a Western scale. There are many things you need to do before you can get started. In the Zimbabwean tradition, nhare was used for rituals of communicating with Musikavanhu or Nyadenga (God). Even if adept at reading music, if you don't know what the song or variation is supposed to sound like, how can you learn it properly? So, the arrangement of notes on the Hugh Tracey kalimba (and on virtually any kalimba that copies the instrument) makes certain complex musical operations very simple. When taught to play a first song—often but not necessarily Kariga Mombe—they don't hear and feel inside the song they are attempting to play. Mapfumo's arrangements included numerous songs directly drawn from traditional mbira repertoire. But most non-Shona people come to mbira with no or almost no experience of the music. An Array is an orderly pattern that the notes of a musical instrument may be arranged in. It is a piece of wood that is mounted on a gourd, like on the top of the bottom … Your right thumb plays ONLY the farthest left (longest) 3 keys in the single row. The inharmonic overtones are strongest in the attack and die out rather quickly, leaving an almost pure tone. With CD. These types of instrument appear to have been invented twice in Africa: a wood or bamboo-tined instrument appeared on the west coast of Africa about 3,000 years ago, and metal-tined lamellophones appeared in the Zambezi River valley around 1,300 years ago. If chords are played in the lower octave, the same notes will appear on the opposite side of the kalimba in the upper octave, which makes it very easy to simultaneously play a melody in the upper octave and an accompanying harmony in the lower octave. Trumpet. Both registers on the left side of the instrument are played with the left thumb. (2001) Learning Mbira: A Beginning. Each dot on the tabs represents the note or tine you should play on the kalimba. UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Learn how and when to remove these template messages, Learn how and when to remove this template message, "UNESCO - Art of crafting and playing Mbira/Sansi, the finger-plucking traditional musical instrument in Malawi and Zimbabwe", "Claire Jones | School of Music | University of Washington", "About Zimfest | Zimbabwean Music Festival", "Sub-Saharan African Instruments at the National Music Museum", "My Story of Hugh Tracey – Kalimba Magic", The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, "Vibrational frequencies and tuning of the African mbira", "Amazon.com: Kalimba Thumb Piano 17 Key,Portable Finger Piano/Mbira/Sanza Kit for Kids and Adults, Solid KOA With Key Locking System,Tune Hammer,Study Instruction,Cloth Bag,Study Guide Sticke: Musical Instruments", "N. Scott Robinson-World Music and Percussion, Frame Drums, Riq, Tambourines", "Mbira webstore (world wide shipping) | MBIRA ZVAKANAKA", "Mbira: Constraint and Mobility in Shona Society", "Chords on the 17-Note Kalimba in C - Kalimba Magic", Discover Mbira : Ancient Zimbabwean Trance Music, Unlocking Mbira : Chord Progression and System of Mbira Workbook, Learn to Play Mbira : Traditional Songs and Improvisation, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mbira&oldid=996538930, Articles needing additional references from October 2014, All articles needing additional references, Articles needing cleanup from October 2014, Cleanup tagged articles with a reason field from October 2014, Wikipedia pages needing cleanup from October 2014, Articles with multiple maintenance issues, Articles with unsourced statements from August 2019, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, finger harp, gourd piano, ikembe, kalimba, kilembe, likembe, likimba, marimbula, mbla, sansa, sansu, sanza, thumb piano, timbrh, zanzu. 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