Home » World Music: Music of Zimbabwe

World Music: Music of Zimbabwe

When British rule came into today’s Zimbabwe (former Rhodesia) in the late 19th century, they found “peaceful people living in various sized city-states. ” The people inhabiting this area, known as the Shona tribe, had seen little of European people up to this point, and were easily convinced of Britain’s trickery to move in and take control of their land. Up to this point, the Shona tribe and their religion was based on ancestor spirit possession using music mostly from the hand-held mbira.

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British rule highly disapproved of this, and in turn left many Zimbabweans alienated form their ancient culture. [1] There are several different types of traditional Shona musics, including mbira, singing, and drumming. Very often, this music is accompanied by dancing and participation by the audience. [2] In Shona music, there is little distinction between the performer and the audience; both are actively involved in the music making, and both are important in the religious ceremonies where Shona Music is often heard. 3] In mbira music, “the performer of the kushaura (lead mbira part) often acts also as the lead vocalist, selecting a known melody or mbira pattern to accompany selected lyrics, usually a phrase or a few lines of text which are then commented upon via improvisation. The performer of the kutsinira (second mbira part) plays a pattern which interlocks with the kushaura in a way that creates the repeated notes which identify mbira music. The kutsinira part is often the same part as the kushaura, but played a half a beat later.

The mbira players are accompanied by another less active singer who plays the hosho (a rattle) and responds to the improvised lyrics of the singer, and most importantly embellishes and complements the lead vocal melody. ”[4] http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=TJyGXtl8Vf4 http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=tIPORpN27CY Traditional Shona music has been adapted to modern instruments such as electric guitars and western drumsets by musicians such as Thomas Mapfumo, and Oliver Mtukudzi.

These musicians have made it their business to address the wrong-doing of British rule and reconnect Zimbabweans with their past. Their music also reflects the foreign music styles that dominated during the colonial years and the war years. American and African jazz had a big impact early on, and later Rock and Roll, Congolese Rumba, and South African Township Music. [5] Mapfumo’s greatest pleasure back when he lived in Marondera, was the music of his Shona people; music he experienced in family and clan gatherings… ike what his ancestors had done for centuries. Traditional children’s tunes, songs of celebration accompanied by the ngoma drums, and especially, the sacred music of the metal-pronged mbira to summon the presence of ancestor spirits; these things formed the basis of Mapfumo’s musical personality, which continues to shape the history and spiritual life of his country. When Mapfumo moved on to Mbare, he heard radio for the first time, and was won over by African jazz, classic big band Rumba, and especially R and soul.

He began in the 60’s reproducing the sounds of Elvis Presley, Bobby Darrin, and Wilson Picket to name a few, then moved on to adapting songs from the ancient mbira repertoire in the 70’s, and worked them into Afro-rock repertoire. To sing in Shona was unusual, and in the context of the rising war made it automatically political. So as Mapfumo continued to develop as a songwriter, his devotion to traditional music inevitably politicized him.

He developed his mbira pop sound and set lyrics reflecting the concerns of the people around him, including “hardships in the rural areas, young men heading into the bush to fight, and a rising sense of indignation at white rulers who had systematically devalued Shona culture for four generations. The guerilla fighters had taken the name chimurenga, Shona for struggle, and Mapfumo decided to call his new sound chimurenga music. ”[6] http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=o-mw9U5Fq4g Singer/songwriter/guitarist Oliver Mtukudzi, with his soul-inflected Tuku style, rivals Thomas Mapfumo for the title of Zimbabwe pop’s spiritual father. Tuku” music includes elements of Shona and other Zimbabwean traditional music, and is inspired by South African Township Pop and classic R&B. Oliver Mtukudzi believes in the interrelatedness of all African music, “from Cape to Cairo. ” “Acting as a kind of national conscience, Mtukudzi concentrates on family stories, sensitively exploring the social issues people face in their daily lives, including now problems surrounding AIDS and the premature deaths of adults in a family. ”[7] (http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=9EEWny5zwxs&feature=PlayList&p=87592E92EE5C12FC&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=46)

After 1970, Zimbabwean musicians became more and more original in their attempts to meld local rhythms, musical moods and melodies with popular sounds from the outside. Many unique and styles of music were created in the process. “Distinct guitar-band sounds developed, characterized by lively, independent guitar and bass lines (simliar to Kenyan benga and other East African derivatives of Congolese rumba) and sweetly harmonized vocals that many compare to the early Beatles, as well as the thumping downbeat characteristic of much southern African music. The music, known as sungura, jit, and Zimbabwe rumba became the staple of the nation’s pop-music market. By the mid-’90s, the Zimbabwe rumba was taken on by names such as Simon Chimbetu and Leonard Zvakata. By the turn of the century, many guitar pop legends—including Chibadura, Chimombe, the great Leonard Dembo and Robson Banda, “prince of chimurenga,” had died from AIDS. Chimbetu and Zvakata remained popular, but guitar rumba is being steadily overshadowed on one side by a rise in the popularity of local gospel music and by the force of American hip-hop, Jamaican and U.

K. reggae and urban kwaito from South Africa. These styles have begun to dominate Zimbabwean radio, still under government control. [8] With Zimbabwean society facing political disturbance, a failing economy, and one of the worst AIDS crises in the world, these “harder-edged foreign sounds” seem to strike a chord. Traditions and traditional music seem to be taking a back seat, although they now have a loyal international audience and thrive in Zimbabwe both in rural settings and as underground music in cities.

New artists include Sanii Makhalima, Roy and Royce, David Chifunyise, Roqui, Leonard Mapfumo, Betty Makaya, Extra Large, to name a few. The style of music closely resembles American Rap, Hip Hop, RnB, Soul and other international music genres, and is classified as Urban Grooves.? [9] http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=lXPb5X4I6MQ http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=mg5-BhdjNrM http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=Ai5K9ldPOrE Works Cited • Excursions in World Music (5th Edition). Prentice Hall. “Mondomix MP3 . : Artiste : Oliver Mtukudzi :. ” Mondomix MP3. 1998. . • “Music of Zimbabwe – , the free encyclopedia. ” Wikipedia. May 2007. . • “Thomas Mapfumo: Afropop Artist — Zimbabwe, Southern Africa. ” African Music, African Music Albums, African Musicians, African Bands, Reviews, Labels, Discographies, and more, from Afropop Worldwide, the experts on African music. 2001. . • “Zimbabwe: Nat Geo Music. ” Home: Nat Geo Music. 1996. . • All sound/video clips from :

YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. . ———————– [1]worldmusic. nationalgeographic. com [2]wikipedia. org/wiki/Shona_music [3]class notes, Excursions in World Music-Bruno Nettl [4]Robert Garfias, Professor of Anthropology, President of the Society of Ethnomusicology [5]worldmusic. nationalgeographic. com [6]www. afropop. org/explore/artist_info/ID/26/ThomasMapfumo/ [7]www. mondomixmusic. com/oliver_mtukudzi [8]worldmusic. nationalgeographic. com [9] Afropop Worldwide: www. afropop. org

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