Shona Mbira Music

shona mbire music

Artist: Various
Album: Zimbabwe - Shona Mbira Music
Release: 1977
Label: Nonesuch Records - Explorer Series

Nonesuch Records, famous for sending a copper phonograph record into space in 1977, have recently reissued all Explorer Series releases onto CD format. From the mid 60s to early 80s, Explorer Series producer, David Lewiston would travel directly into the field and record the respective sounds of Asia, the Middle East, and the Latin America. "It's only recently that it's been feasible to make really decent recordings in the field. In the thirties they would have to take record cutting machines out into the fields and very often the equipment would fail. I take two pairs of microphones, 20 hours of recording tape, camera and film. This with a change of clothes amounts to 70 pounds, much better than the previous 200 pounds people had to carry." [New York Times]

The North Park Library is sponsoring this listening experience of the national sound and instrument of Zimbabwe. The album focuses on Shona Mbire, a music older than dirt that is primarily used to facilitate spiritual ceremonies. Mbira dzavadzimu (photographed on the cover art above) is the instrument that you'll hear. At religious ceremonies the instrument is thought to have the power to project its sound into the heavens, attracting the attention of the ancestral spirits. In the hands of skillful players the mbira can draw these spirits down to earth to possess mediums or unsuspecting participants.

The Exorcist aside, I just think it sounds really nice. And it makes me feel good. So Alex, I'm dedicating this one to you. Enjoy.


Nhemamusasa Instrumental Excerpt I

Download album here.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

thanks for this.
have you ever heard konono no. 1?
they use mbira to a different effect, not as soothing.
they've made all their own instruments and amps and everything diyyyyyyy.