An African Musical Tradition
An introductory guide to the mbira: the spiritual traditions, historical perspectives, and practical applications of a sacred Zimbabwean instrument.
In this accessible overview steeped in history and tradition, teacher and student Māhealani Uchiyama offers insights for learning about the mbira and actively engaging with it in an informed and respectful way.
The mbira is made of a wooden soundboard and hammered metal keys. It can be played solo or accompanied by singing, clapping, dancing, percussion, or other mbira. In traditional Zimbabwean culture, the mbira is a spiritual practice that bridges worlds: for example, the realm of the ancestors and of healing energies with the worlds of the living.
Supplemented with 32 images and glossary of terms, this book helps readers understand:
• The mbira’s special roles within the lamellaphone instrument family
• Relevant Zimbabwean and African cultural, historical, and spiritual perspectives
• Ways the mbira can become a connection point for people severed from their African roots
• How appropriation and commodification have contributed to the mbira’s popularization around the world
• Codes of conduct for respectfully playing the mbira and for taking it up as a practice