AND SUPPORT 235 ZIMBABWEAN TRADITIONAL MUSICIANS.
MBIRA is a non-profit organization that celebrates and helps to sustain the ancient musical traditions of Zimbabwe. MBIRA supports Zimbabwean musicians and instrument makers, and their families, through worldwide Zimbabwean music education, recordings, and performances. In a country with 95% unemployment (Nov. 2010), this provides critical support in the daily struggle for survival. MBIRA has also created the largest archive of Shona mbira music in the world, which is a permanent resource for generations to come.
About Erica Azim, Director
A Shona mbira piece consists of a basic cyclical pattern which includes numerous intertwined melodies, often with contrasting rhythms. The extensive possibilities for rhythmic and melodic variation render each performance unique. When two mbiras are played together, the interlocking parts result in rich polyphony and polyrhythms.
A traditional repertoire of hundreds of pieces is transmitted from generation to generation, and pieces popular today are known to have been played over 700 years ago. At traditional Zimbabwean ceremonies (mapira), ancestors are called by performing their favorite songs; thus, the same pieces are retained in the repertoire over the centuries.
During MBIRA's 1st 14 years, our sales of field recordings generated over $185,000* for over 235 Zimbabwean musicians, and our sales of mbiras generated over $452,000 for 19 Zimbabwean instrument makers.
During 2011 alone, $53,300 was paid to mbira makers, and $15,000* to recorded musicians.
*Including Musicians Fund donations added to recordings payments.
A gift option:
"MBIRA helps people make a living while preserving their culture - it's not charity, it's an investment in culture."
Zimbabwe's mbira shown below is a primary traditional instrument of the Shona people, and has been played for over 1,000 years at religious rituals, royal courts, and social occasions. It consists of 22 to 28 metal keys mounted on a hardwood soundboard and is usally placed inside a large gourd resonator (deze). The keys are played with the two thumbs plucking down and the right forefinger plucking up.
Click to hear an mbira duo on Bangidza. (MP3 format).