A very traditional instrument

The children from the SOS Children’s Village at Bindura sing some traditional songs to the accompaniment of a very important instrument in Zimbabwean music – the mbira.

This ancient instrument is used in a wide range of music. For example, the children’s teacher, Japhet Masiyarikurima, says he’s heard the mbira being played in church.

However, its original and very special use is in traditional Shona ceremonies, where the instrument is often played to attract the spirits of ancestors. This is why one of the most widely-used versions – the mbira dzavadzimu – means the “mbira of the ancestor spirits”.

Not all instruments are meant for religious or special ceremonies though. The children are playing a type of mbira known as a nyunga-nyunga and these ones can be connected to modern speakers for a louder sound.

As you may be able to hear from the song being performed by the children, Zimbabwean music is often circular, using repeated cycles of notes. So songs don’t have a “beginning” or “end” and the music can be started at different points in the cycle.

The children clearly enjoy their music and dance along with enthusiasm.