Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bottle Caps, Mbira Music, and Calling the Spirits In


This post's for you, Kim!

This is an African mbira. I learned to play it in Santa Cruz as part of a community performing traditional Shona songs from Zimbabwe. This instrument is played throughout eastern and southern Africa and is an integral part of traditional celebrations and healing ceremonies of various sorts.

The Shona people have played mbira for thousands of years. You put one finger through the hole in the bottom right front to hold the instrument steady and pluck the metal keys with your fingers and thumb as shown in the bottom photo.

Shells, and now bottle caps, are affixed to the front to make the characteristic buzzing sound associated with all Shona music. The buzzing is deliberately included and is thought to attract the ancestor spirits.

If you click on this link you can listen to some traditional mbira music. I used to know how to play the first one, Nhemamusasa.

1 comment:

kim* said...

i wonder how much on of those costs hm.... :) i saw the word bottle cap and i jumped to your blog first lol