How do you know if what you are being taught (or are seeing on YouTube) is the "right" way to play an mbira piece? Google challenges people to play four traditional and modern songs including Nhemamusasa, Bangiza, Taireva and Chemutengure by hovering their mouse over the right keys when instructed. Transcript. 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. Learn to play Zimbabwean mbira music, anywhere in the world. Muda will be the lead mbira … 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). It consists of a wooden board (often fitted with a resonator) with attached staggered metal tines, played by holding the instrument in the hands and plucking the tines with the thumbs (at minimum), the right forefinger (most mbira), and sometimes the left forefinger. There are many questions and opinions about how to learn and how to teach mbira. 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. Unlike stringed instruments or air-column instruments like flutes, the overtones of a plucked lamella are inharmonic, giving the mbira a characteristic sound. You’ll have to learn how to play musical instruments and master the art of music production. Mapfumo's arrangements included numerous songs directly drawn from traditional mbira repertoire. The practicality of this note arrangement, with notes going up the scale in a right-left-right-left progression, is that modal 1-3-5 or 1-3-5-7 chords are made by playing adjacent tines. 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. The mbira dza vadzimu is very significant in Shona religion and culture, considered a sacred instrument by the Shona people. [28] Within the Shona tradition, the mbira may be played with paired performers in which the kushaura, the caller, leads the performed piece as the kutsinhira, the responder, "interlocks" a subsequent part. Generally, the Array mbira is large enough to allow two people to play on the same instrument at once, side by side. Lamellophone in Afrika. Your right thumb plays ONLY the farthest left (longest) 3 keys in the single row. [6], Various kinds of plucked idiophones and lamellaphones have existed in Africa for thousands of years. Learn how to play the kalimba and mbira from the musicians at Wula Drum in this Howcast video. 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. The mbira dzavadzimu is frequently played at religious ceremonies and social gatherings called mapira (sing. [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 fingers of the left hand stabilize the left side of the instrument, with most fingers reaching slightly behind the instrument. Zimbabwe's Dumisani Maraire originated mbira nyunga nyunga number notation. There are a variety of ways to learn. [9][10], In the mid 1950s mbira instruments were the basis for the development of the kalimba, a westernized version designed and marketed by the ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey, leading to a great expansion of its distribution outside Africa. Mbira Transfiguration & Permanence", based in Harare, Zimbabwe, African musical instrument of the lamellophone family, "Kalimba" redirects here. 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. Tunings have often been idiosyncratic with variations over time and from one player to another. Berlin: Museum für Völkerkunde. About Us. 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). The general pattern of learning in Zimbabwe seems to be to begin learning a piece's kushauras, moving to its kutsinhiras only after mastering the kushauras. [30], Albert Chimedza, director of the Mbira Centre in Harare, has estimated that "there are at most ten thousand people in the world who play mbira."[2]. Pluck the corresponding tines on your instrument. (Although some instruments, like the Mbira, have an additional rows of tongues, in which case not just the thumbs are used for plucking.) [5] Similar instruments were reported to be used in Okpuje, Nsukka area of the south eastern part of Nigeria in the early 1900s. 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. TK-3 Lucy Marie Stewart May 24, 2020 Instruments. The Bohlen–Pierce scale subdivides the just twelfth into 13 steps. 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. I'm going to show you how to play the kalimba. It is the American way (and perhaps the modern world's way) to judge oneself and others quantitatively. The upper row keys (from left) are keys 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14 while the bottom row keys are notated as 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15. 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. Those transcribing mbira songs have used Western staff notation as well as tablature which maps the mbira keys to some visual and numeric code. [28], Mbira matepe which has 26 keys originated from along the borders of Zimbabwe and Mozambique.[28]. This linear approach must be counteracted in order to learn to listen to mbira in a Shona way. In the Zimbabwean tradition, nhare was used for rituals of communicating with Musikavanhu or Nyadenga (God). 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. Get that African feeling! 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. [3][4], Joseph H. Howard and Babatunde Olatunji have both suggested that mbira (and other metal lamellaphones) are thoroughly African, being found only in areas populated by Africans or their descendants. While playing, the little finger of the right hand is placed through a hole in the bottom right corner of the soundboard, with the little finger entering from the front of sound board, and the ring finger and middle finger reaching around the back to stabilize the instrument. The music and the rhythms are unfamiliar. Lamellaphone, any musical instrument consisting of a set of tuned metal or bamboo tongues (lamellae) of varying length attached at one end to a soundboard that often has a box or calabash resonator. 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. Are you planning to jumpstart your music career? These skills first are developed by learning one or a few mbira pieces rather than a large repertory. [citation needed] Some conjecture that African lamellophones were derived from xylophones and marimbas. The mbira dzavadzimu is frequently played at religious ceremonies and social gatherings called mapira (sing. During these all-night ceremonies, people call upon the spirits to answer questions. [13], Mbira music, like much of the sub-Saharan African music traditions is based on cross-rhythm. Sounds are made by manually pushing down gently and releasing bent metal tines with a … The composite melody is an embellishment of the 3:2 cross-rhythm (also known as a hemiola).[14]. The song produced by Q-Tip, was released with the album on October 25, 1994. Shona mbira listening, however, appears to be horizontal, with attention placed on dozens of simultaneous intertwining single note melodies. Actually from before birth, as they are likely to have been hearing it in their mother's womb. 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. Bottle caps, shells, or other objects ("machachara"[27]) are often affixed to the soundboard to create a buzzing sound when the instrument is played. 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. Q: What are some of the subjects that you cover in your music? Board-mounted lamellaphones are often played inside gourds or bowls for increased resonance, and the And trust your gut. Although mbira's popularity continues to grow in the West and in Japan, most of us still do not live near other mbira players or teachers. Shona people hear mbira from birth. Beyond your wildest dreams. Legendary US rapper Nas pays tribute to Zimbabwe’s Mbira. During a public performance, an mbira dzavadzimu is frequently placed in a deze (calabash resonator) to amplify its sound. Not surprisingly, some both in and outside of Zimbabwe have frowned on this method, but it strikes us as a most effective way of simulating a formal teaching experience. [citation needed]. We will also, in the near future, offer some beginning lessons for those starting to play mbira. When called at 3 am to come play mbira at a ceremony where other players have failed to bring the spirit called, the gwenyambira must go. Tongues may be made small enough to play with individual fingers, hence the colloquial name "thumb piano". Grow out your nails on the 3 mbira playing thumbs/finger – you want to touch each key with both your nail and about 1 cm (0.4 inch) of your thumb/finger. Other notable influencers bringing mbira music out of Africa are: Dumisani Maraire, who brought marimba and karimba music to the American Pacific Northwest; Ephat Mujuru, who was one of the pioneer teachers of mbira dzavadzimu in the United States; and the writings and recordings of Zimbabwean musicians made by Paul Berliner. An octagonal mbira of high craftsmanship which spans two octaves. From DC & Neil Gaiman, The Sandman arises only on Audible. When a tine is plucked, the adjacent tines also create secondary vibrations that increase the harmonic complexity of an individual note. This is a much harder question to address. Learning both kushaura and kutsinhira can help the process of learning "mbira music.". In the end credentials don't mean as much as trusting your gut. [29] The ritual is known as the Bira. Njani mbira has 30 to 32 keys and was also originated from Zimbabwe particularly Masvingo and Makonde. [8] The mbira was differentiated in its physical form and social uses as it spread. Shona mbira teachers emphasize playing slowly and really learning basic variations before trying to progress to more advanced variations or other songs.They emphasize playing a few variations over and over until one begins to have control of the mbira and can move fluidly over the keys and make clear, strong sounds from each key. All teachers emphasize the importance of students learning a proper approach to the instruments and to the music. An example from the kutsinhira part of the traditional mbira dzavadzimu piece "Nhema Musasa" is given by David Peñalosa, who observes that the left hand plays the ostinato "bass line," while the right hand plays the upper melody. I play the nyunganyunga as well as the nhare mbira. Another major difference in the Western and Shona approaches to listening is that there is a vertical approach in Western music, with attention to chords and their progression. In performance, the player holds the instrument in his hands and plucks the tongues with his thumbs and forefingers. 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. 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? The mbira originated in Southern Africa, and has long played an integral role in the traditions and cultural identity of Zimbabwe’s Shona people; some 11 million people strong in the country. 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. For the Rurouni Kenshin character, see, Kubik, Gerhard (1998) Kalimba – Nsansi – Mbira. The Law of Mbira Within mbira playing communities, there is a pervasive notion of an “authentic” mbira dzaVadzimu (the mbira of the ancestors) performance practice, associated with a set of ethics which structurally inform discus- sion about the appropriate use of the instrument. Everett, PA: HoneyRock. Tracey's design was modeled after the mbira nyunga nyunga and named 'Kalimba' after an ancient predecessor of the mbira family of instruments. [28], The nhare has 23 to 24 keys and was originated from Zimbabwe. 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. It certainly seems to be "closer to the real thing" than trying to read notation. In a traditional setting, this sound is considered extremely important, as it is believed to attract ancestral spirits. In Eastern and Southern Africa, there are many kinds of mbira, often accompanied by the hosho, a percussion instrument. There are many wonderful Shona mbira players with a lifetime of playing experience who may be perfect as a teacher for a Shona person yet be challenging for a non-Shona person. [16], Tunings vary from family to family referring to relative interval relationships and not to absolute pitches. There is also no AMP (Authentic Mbira Players) certification. Erica Azim, an American mbira player and teacher, encourages her students to listen long and deeply to a song before beginning to play it. Musicologists classify it as a lamellaphone, part of the plucked idiophone family of musical instruments. There is a strong visual component to learning mbira. A modern interpretation of the instrument was commercially produced and exported by ethnomusicologist Hugh Tracey from the 1950s onward, popularising similar instruments outside of Africa. In order to play a musical instrument one must first learn how to navigate among its notes. This page was last edited on 27 December 2020, at 05:21. In The Soul of Mbira Paul Berliner relates how mbira students are encouraged to watch others play and pick up what they can by watching. An Array is an orderly pattern that the notes of a musical instrument may be arranged in. Mbira became popularized largely due to the success of Thomas Mapfumo in the 1980s,[2] who included mbira on stage accompanying modern rock instruments such as electric guitar and bass, drum kit, and horns. "bira"). Some alternative tunings simply change the key of the kalimba, without changing the note layout scheme. 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 mbira is one of several idiophones that are plucked rather than vibrated by percussion, shaken, or scraped. The mbira dzavadzimu can be used to play over one hundred songs, such as Kariga mombe. Williams, B. Michael. Each note of the kalimba can be tuned independently (unlike a guitar), so any scale, western or non-western, is possible, and traditional African scales are still accessible to this modern African instrument. Violin. Listen free with trial. The tines were originally made of bamboo but over the years metal keys have been developed. The need for some way to learn mbira has led people to experiment with methods of transmitting mbira playing. In the near future we will present introductory mbira lessons. Each dot on the tabs represents the note or tine you should play on the kalimba. The Hugh Tracey kalimbas are tuned diatonically in the key of G. The arrangement of the notes on the Hugh Tracey kalimba borrows from the typical scheme with the lowest notes in the center and the upper notes on the left and the right, with the notes in the ascending scale alternating strictly right-left and going outwards towards the two sides. Named after the original kalimba (ancestor of mbira). [32], Even though it is set in Botswana, the 1980 movie The Gods Must Be Crazy features a character playing the mbira. “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.” Key pitch radiates out from the center, rather than from left to right. But not all mbira players want to be watched! The nyunga nyunga which normally has 15 keys, originated from Manicaland where it traditionally played the entertainment role during social gatherings and commemorations. The mbira is an African musical instrument, traditional to the Shona people of Zimbabwe. [11][12], Lamellophones are instruments which have little tines, or "lamellae", which are played by plucking. How are we to learn? Some mbira possess an extra key in the upper left register which is hit from below by the left index finger. 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. Develop good habits of playing keys with the correct thumb/finger. It is usually played to facilitate communication with ancestral spirits, bringing the spirit of the dead back on its homestead. Play the mbira! It is a piece of wood that is mounted on a gourd, like on the top of the bottom … 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! If you can't sit next to an mbira player and take a lesson, sitting next to them by watching a video would seem to be the next best thing. These notes are addressed to the non-Shona person who is considering learning to play mbira. And inevitably people are presenting mbira parts on YouTube that they have barely learned themselves. The major challenge to learning mbira is knowing the music deeply to begin. "bira"). 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. (2001) Learning Mbira: A Beginning. [31], Alternative tunings are possible, as the tines of most kalimbas are easily pushed in and out to sharpen or flatten their pitch. Erica Azim points out two aspects of Shona music which make hearing a new mbira song challenging for a non-Shona person. With CD. Then he would ask to borrow the instrument and would try to work out the parts by himself. They consist of a wooden board (often fitted with a resonator) with attached staggered metal tines, played by holding the instrument in the hands and plucking the tines with the thumbs (at minimum), the right forefinger (most mbira), and sometimes the left forefinger. 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. 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Play and teach mbira part of the 3:2 cross-rhythm ( also known as a visiting artist from 1968–1972 nhare used. United States when he came to the music deeply to begin brought awareness this. Most non-Shona people come to mbira with no or almost no experience of the double row of keys simultaneous! Setting, this sound is considered extremely important, as the Bira Drum in this video!
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