Mbira dza Vadzimu


dotMbira Construction

The mbira dzavadzimu is a set of carefully shaped and sized metal keys that produce different tones. The keys are mounted on a rectangular wooden sound board that acts as a first level amplifier. The metal keys are mounted to form three registers, ergonomically arranged to facilitate playing with both thumbs and one forefinger. A metal plate, upon which bottle caps, or in the old days, snail shells are affixed, is attached to the front of the sound board. The shells produce a buzzing sound as they are excited from tones produced by the metal reeds. Unlike western music where a buzzing sound in considered distortion, and therefore undesirable, the mbira's buzzing sound is an integral and necessary part of the music. For the listener, the buzz "tunes out" other stimuli and allows the listener to hear the mbira rythms. The mbira is mounted inside a calabash resonator (deze). Bottle caps or snail shells are attached to the mouth of the calabash.


© 2004 Solomon Murungu & Zambuko Projects® Unlimited