Traditional music in Zimbabwe (2023)

Even though the Shona and Ndebele outnumber all the other ethnic groups, these other smaller groups continue to practice their own culture and traditions. For instance, the Shangwe have Jichi, the Kalanga have Amabhiza and the Ndau identify with Muchongoyo. Whereas mbakumba, jerusarema and shangara are usually identified as Shona traditional music and dances, amabhiza, amantshomane and isitshikitsha are associated with the Ndebele people.

Traditional musical instruments

(Video) Zimbabwe Amazing Traditional Songs

A commonality in most Zimbabwean traditional music genres is that they are accompanied by the drum, known as ngoma in Shona and ingungu in IsiNdebele. The drums are just as varied as the genres and they come in different sizes and shapes. In most cases, the bigger drums are played using sticks while the smaller ones are played using open palms. There are some exceptions, however, such as the small drum played to accompany Amabhiza, which is played using one hand as the other hand will be rubbing/scratching the drum using a stick to produce an unusual screeching sound. Muchongoyo music is also accompanied by peculiar drums. These have animal skin on both ends of the drum, which are played using sticks, regardless of the size of the drum. The size of the stick is however, proportionate to the size of the drum.

Besides drums, traditional Zimbabwean music has a variety of percussive instruments, including shakers (hosho), leg rattles (magaga, magavhu and amahlayi) and wooden clappers (makwa). Mbira musicians also use chikorodzi, a notched stick scraped by another stick, as well as kanyemba, an instrument made of many bamboo strips that are stripped together and filled with small seeds for percussion.

Arguably the most famous of the Zimbabwean musical instruments is the mbira. There are several types of mbiras found in Zimbabwe, which are played during both religious and secular activities[ii]. Of the many types of mbiras found in Zimbabwe, the most common are the nhare (telephone) or mbira dzavadzimu (the ancestors’ mbira) and the nyunga-nyunga mbira. The mbira dzavadzimu has between 22 and 24 keys and is known for its ability to invoke the spirit (Matiure, 2011). The nyunga-nyunga mbira is a 15-key mbira and has been widely popularised by Zimbabwe’s education sector, where it is taught from primary school up to university level. Some of the Shona language names for the range of mbiras in Zimbabwe include njari, matepe, mbira dzavandau, karimba/nyunganyunga and matepe/madebe dza mhondoro/hera.

Some traditional Zimbabwean instruments are facing the danger of extinction, such as chizambi, chipendani, tsuri, mukwati wenyere.

(Video) Mbuya Madhuve - Neria (Zimbabwe Traditional Music/ Mbira)

It is important to note that not all Zimbabwean traditional music is accompanied by instruments. Zimbabwe has traditional acapella music such as imbube, makwaira and some songs for shangwe mukwerera rain-making ceremony. Imbube is associated with the Ndebele people, while makwaira is for the Shona people. Etymology suggests that the name makwaira was derived from the word ‘choir’.

Traditional music and spirituality

Most of Zimbabwe’s traditional music and dance can be linked to the cosmology of her people. Asante forwards that “most of the Zimbabwean dances are religious or spiritual dances” (2000:5). Most studies of Zimbabwean traditional music and dance also point to the fact that most Shona and Ndebele dances have a relationship with the religious and spiritual life of their people. For example, Rutsate (2011) researched the practise of mhande by the Karanga people during the mutoro, a rain-making ritual. The Ndebele culture’s rain-making dance is called iHosana (Ndlovu, 2010:25). Thramm (2002) also studied the therapeutic role played by dandanda traditional music and dance, which originates from the Korekore people of Zimbabwe. Nyathi (2001) purports that the Ndebele practise of isitshikitsha seZangoma, a sacred traditional music, is for those who are traditional healers or apprentices in traditional healing. According to a CHIPAWO[iii] module, the Kalanga people of Matebeleland Province perform Amabhiza traditional music during their rain-making ceremonies.

Traditional music and contemporary social-political Issues

(Video) Mbira Dzenharira - Rwendo Rwekure

It is not always that the traditional music of Zimbabwe is associated with religious rituals. It is also important to note that the social life of Zimbabweans is inextricably linked to their music and dancing. Zimbabwe has a rich repertoire of songs that accompany social activities. These diverse repertoires include lullabies, children’s game songs, rites of passage songs, work songs, war songs and funeral dirges, among a host of others. Simply put, Zimbabwean traditional music follows and speaks to the lifecycle of a human being.

Today Zimbabwean traditional music is also used to speak out against contemporary socio-political challenges. Community-based traditional music and dance groups have managed to deploy indigenous music to tackle the social-political malaise. These groups have a strong awareness that traditionally, music was conceived and applied to play a critical role in society, an intangible force that managed societal systems, coerced human consciousness and sanctioned certain deviations in the conduct of stable societal living. The musicians have managed to subtly negotiate the temper of government authorities that are intolerant of voices of dissent and criticism.

Preserving Zimbabwean traditional music

Regardless of the profound utilitarian role that indigenous music plays in bringing about social change, it is waning in popularity. Zimbabwean traditional music faces an unhealthy future as most young people shun traditional music in favour of Western-influenced contemporary music, like the hugely popular genre known as Zim-Dancehall. This Jamaican-influenced popular youth culture therefore threatens the continued existence of Zimbabwean indigenous music as its rising popularity is juxtaposed with the ailing popularity of traditional music.

(Video) T he most sort after Zimbabwe's traditional mbira music, WATCH Gogo Mavhu Mbira group

Not much is being done by the government, civil society or corporates to safeguard indigenous music. It is a sad fact that “in Zimbabwe, traditional dance as fostered by the Ministry of Education has been restricted largely to competition” (McLaren 2001:1). Zimbabwe has two prestigious traditional music and dance festivals, the Jikinya dance festival and the Chibuku Neshamwari traditional dance competition. The Jikinya festival is meant for primary schools and the Chibuku NeShamwari is meant for everyone above 18 years. The festivals aim at encouraging young and old to appreciate and perform indigenous Zimbabwean dances[iv]. Though the competitions stand as the only two reliable national performance platforms, they are isolated events. There are no processes or programmes set up to safeguard and promote the posterity of traditional music.

Traditional music’s influence on popular music

Despite the threats facing traditional music in Zimbabwe, not all hope is lost. Some mainstream popular musicians are producing music that is influenced by traditional music. Jah Prayzah, for example, is arguably the man-of-the-moment in Zimbabwe’s pop music arena. He uses mbira and marimba in his music. One of Jah Prayzah’s most popular tracks, ‘Machembere’ from his 2013 album Tsviriyo, is played on the traditional mbira mode known as vamudhara. Other artists such as the internationally acclaimed Oliver Mtukudzi make music influenced by traditional genres. Tracks such as ‘Tozeza baba’ are influenced by chinyambera and dinhe traditional music. The music of popular musicians such as Hope Masike and the late Chiwoniso Maraire also relies heavily on the mbira, while groups such as Mawungira eNharira and Mbira DzeNharira continue to perform traditional mbira music.

The influence of traditional music has also been seen in the church. It is a sure paradox that early missionaries demonised traditional music but today traditional music forms the backbone of church music. The Catholic Church and most Protestant churches use the drum (ngoma), shakers (hosho), horn (hwamanda) and the whistle (pemba) in their music. The common argument for this enculturation of traditional music into church music is that it was meant to make indigenous people identify with their music and subsequently the Christian way of life. Whether this argument is real or imagined, what is factual is that Zimbabwean traditional music is indeed woven into all activities. However, it is imperative that Zimbabwe sets up institutions dedicated to preserving and promoting her traditional music, which represents an invaluable source of indigenous knowledge.

(Video) Mbuya Madhuve - Ndega ndega (Zimbabwe Traditional Music/ Mbira/ Zimbabwe Liberation War songs)

References

Asante, K.W. (2000) Zimbabwe Dance: Rhythmic Forces, Ancestral Voices-An Aesthetic Analysis. Trenton: African World Press, Inc.Matiure, P. (2011) The relationship between Mbira DzaVadzimu modes and Zezuru Spirit possession. Master’s Thesis University of KwaZulu NatalMcLaren, R. (2001) Case Study: Teaching Dance in Zimbabwe the Chipawo ExperienceNdlovu, C.M. (2010) A cultural Response: The Exploration of Traditional Dance and Games as an HIV/AIDS Intervention. A Zimbabwean Case Study. Unpublished Wits School of ArtsNyathi, P. (2001) Traditional Ceremonies of the AmaNdebele. Gweru, Mambo PressRutsate, J. (2007) The performance of Mhande song and dance: A contextualized and comparative analysis. Unpublished Master’s Dissertation, Rhodes UniversityThramm, D. (2002) “Therapeutic Efficacy of Music Making: Neglected Experience of Integral Importance Process”. Yearbook of Traditional Music 34:129-13[i] Data on Zimbabwe ethnic distribution retrieved from http://www.indexmundi.com/zimbabwe/demographics_profile.htmlon 28/07/14[ii] For a detailed study on mbira dzaVadzimu refer to Perminus Matiure’s work[iii] CHIPAWO is an acronym standing for Children Performing Arts Workshop. CHIPAWO is one of Zimbabwe’s leading performing arts organisations engaged in research and teaching of Zimbabwean traditional music and dance as well as theatre to young people.[iv] www.natartszim.org.

FAQs

What is Zimbabwe traditional music? ›

Zimbabwe has traditional acapella music such as imbube, makwaira and some songs for shangwe mukwerera rain-making ceremony. Imbube is associated with the Ndebele people, while makwaira is for the Shona people. Etymology suggests that the name makwaira was derived from the word 'choir'.

What is the name of the traditional music? ›

folk

folk
Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted orally, music with unknown composers, music that is played on traditional instruments, music about cultural or national identity, music that changes between generations (folk process), music associated with a people's folklore, or music ...
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Folk_music
music, type of traditional and generally rural music that originally was passed down through families and other small social groups. Typically, folk music, like folk literature, lives in oral tradition; it is learned through hearing rather than reading.

What are the five example of traditional music? ›

Example Folk Songs
  • Scarborough Fair.
  • Greensleeves.
  • Early One Morning.
  • Swing Low Sweet Chariot.
  • Kalinka.
  • Auld Lang Syne.
  • Oh Danny Boy.
  • Waltzing Matilda.

What instrument is used in all traditional Zimbabwean music? ›

The drum has to be the centre of traditional Zimbabwe music. Drums are not only used in cultural settings but also in religious, and in entertainment. Another important instrument is the mbira

mbira
Noun. sanza (plural sanzas) (music) Any type of mbira (thumb piano, a plucked lamellophone) of Southern African origin.
https://en.wiktionary.org › wiki › sanza
- the thumb piano.

Who started music in Zimbabwe? ›

Thomas Mapfumo, (born 1945, Marondera, Southern Rhodesia [now in Zimbabwe]), Zimbabwean musician and composer who propelled Zimbabwe toward independence in the 1970s through his cultivation of chimurenga—a local genre of politically charged popular music.

What are the three kinds of traditional music? ›

Three categories can be used to sort the many styles of music found in these cultures over time: art music. folk music. popular music.

What do you mean by traditional music? ›

The Concept of Traditional Music: This is generally music that is created in a common manner, has continued from the time of its production right down to the present day, is popular and frequently played and recited in its region and by local people, and is usually anonymous.

What are the types of traditional songs? ›

Folk music is one of the oldest and most diverse forms of music globally.
...
  • Traditional Folk. This is the type of folk music that most people think of when they hear “folk music”. ...
  • Country Folk. ...
  • Acoustic Folk. ...
  • Roots Folk. ...
  • Celtic Folk. ...
  • Bluegrass Folk Music. ...
  • Old-timey Folk. ...
  • Folk Rock.
21 Mar 2022

What are the characteristics of traditional music? ›

Characteristics
  • It was transmitted through an oral tradition. ...
  • The music was often related to national culture. ...
  • They commemorate historical and personal events. ...
  • The songs have been performed, by custom, over a long period of time, usually several generations.

Why traditional music is important? ›

Traditional music can help people understand a country better. It represents the history, traditions and thoughts of a community. For example Vietnamese folk music is extremely diverse and it expresses spiritual cultural activities of country people.

What is traditional African music? ›

Traditional African music may be defined as that music which is asso- ciated with traditional African institutions of the pre-colonial era. It is the. music that has survived the impact of the forces of Western and other. forms of acculturation and is therefore distinct in idiom and orientation.

What is the main instrument used by the Shona of Zimbabwe? ›

The mbira

mbira
Noun. sanza (plural sanzas) (music) Any type of mbira (thumb piano, a plucked lamellophone) of Southern African origin.
https://en.wiktionary.org › wiki › sanza
is the national instrument of Zimbabwe. It is a traditional instrument that has been played by the Shona people of Zimbabwe for over a thousand years.

What is the role of song and dance in the Zimbabwean culture? ›

These dances are self-reflective, for the entire community because all music and dance are communal events. Dance to Zimbabweans is a very spiritual, powerful tool that carries on traditions, and chronicles the important events of their history and culture.

Which music is no longer popular in Zimbabwe? ›

Gospel music was generally unpopular in Zimbabwe because recording companies usually did not want to record gospel musicians. They were only a few notable gospel artists during the 1980s and 1990s, such as Jordan Chataika and Mechanic Manyeruke.

Who is the best music in Zimbabwe? ›

Simon “Chopper” Chimbetu. Sungura is the most popular music genre in Zimbabwe, and was popularized by Simon Chimbetu, a guitarist, vocalist, and composer who brought it to townships in Zimbabwe over 30 years ago.

Who is the biggest artist in Zimbabwe? ›

Jah Prayzah

What are the 4 main categories of African musical instruments? ›

African musical instruments are organised into the following groups:
  • aerophones - blown instruments;
  • membranophones - instruments with a stretched skin which is struck;
  • chordophones - instruments with strings;
  • idiophones - instruments made using materials which produce the sound.

What is modern African music called? ›

African contemporary music, commonly called Afropop

Afropop
Afrobeats (not to be confused with Afrobeat or Afroswing), or Afro-pop or Afro-fusion (or Afropop or Afrofusion), is an umbrella term to describe popular music from West Africa and the diaspora that initially developed in Nigeria, Ghana, and the UK in the 2000s and 2010s.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Afrobeats
, is as diverse as the African continent itself.

Where did African music originated from? ›

The asymmetrical time-line patterns of African music are, no doubt, an ancient cultural heritage along the Guinea Coast and in western central Africa. They were most likely invented by peoples who spoke ancestral forms of Niger-Congo languages. It is likely that the area of origin was the Guinea Coast.

What are the 6 main types of music? ›

In his new book, The World in Six Songs, cognitive psychologist and former record producer Daniel Levitin argues that all music, from orchestral classics to thrash metal and tribal dance, can be grouped into just six categories: friendship, joy, comfort, knowledge, ritual and love.

How many types of music are there? ›

The proliferation of popular music in the 20th century has led to over 1,200 definable subgenres of music.

What are the 2 types of music? ›

Classical music (pre-composed and written down) and Jazz (improvised).

How is traditional music different from the music you hear today? ›

One of the differences is that traditional music focuses on social function. It means that traditional music supports a culture in which this music is played. It also reflects the characteristics of people on that area. while the modern music focuses on how the music combined and integrated with a technology.

What is traditional music Wikipedia? ›

The term traditional music is often used as a broad classification of music genres that contrasts with popular music, designated mostly for developing and transmitting through musical traditions, either art, folk, or religious ones.

What are the five 5 types of folk songs *? ›

Perhaps there is no consensus on how folk songs should be categorized among cultures, but below are some examples of different types of folk songs including: work songs, love songs, drinking songs, cradle songs, play songs, and songs of mourning, etcetera.

What is traditional music and dance? ›

Traditional music and dance is the indigenous and untainted form of music and dance that traditional people engage in Ghana. The types of music and dance, performed by the various ethnic groups include, but is not limited to, Agbadza, Adowa, and Kpalongo. IMPORTANCE OF TRADITIONAL MUSIC AND DANCE.

What is Akan music? ›

54 releases. Music of the Akan people of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, including a variety of traditional and neo-traditional styles which are based on some of the oldest traditions in West Africa. Read more. Traditional Akan music is sung in the local language, either Twi or Fanti (the Akan languages).

What is the difference between folk music and traditional music? ›

In my view, there are two different meanings for the term "folk music." The first meaning refers to traditional music. Folk music is the music that is sung by the people, not music recorded in a studio or performed on a stage. People learn these songs by singing them with others.

Is traditional music of a country more important? ›

In conclusion, traditional music is much more important than the modern international music which can be heard in every part of the world. Youngsters should give their heart to their own traditional music to keep their cultural heritage alive.

What instrument is used in folk music? ›

Which instruments are involved in a folk group? Typical instrumentation for the folk music traditions of the British Isles commonly involves: voice, violin (known as the fiddle in the folk setting), acoustic guitar, flute, whistle, pipes, accordion, melodeon, mandolin, harmonica, and tenor banjo.

What are the importance of traditional music and dance? ›

In a traditional culture, music and dance are often inseparable – musicians are brought to life by dancers and dancers energize musicians. Dancing in community settings has traditionally been a way for people to socialize, get exercise, and express the joy of living.

How can you promote traditional music? ›

It can be through blog or Facebook page because Internet is the most powerful and popular site that can help to promote the music. Traditional performance/show should be performed everyday or all the time at airport. This is an easy way to let the tourists know what our culture is when they first arrive at our country.

Why traditional performances are important? ›

Tradition contributes a sense of comfort and belonging. It brings families together and enables people to reconnect with friends. Tradition reinforces values such as freedom, faith, integrity, a good education, personal responsibility, a strong work ethic, and the value of being selfless.

What are the characteristics of African traditional music? ›

There are eight characteristics that define African music: Polyrhythms, ostinato, the use of percussion, background shimmer, close connection with the music and language, participatory nature of the arts, a close connection with the performing arts, responsorial form.

What is the primary use of African traditional music? ›

Traditional African music supplies appropriate music and dance for work and for religious ceremonies of birth, naming, rites of passage, marriage and funerals. The beats and sounds of the drum are used in communication as well as in cultural expression.

Where did music originated from? ›

The first-ever written piece of music, presented in a cuneiform “alphabet”, was found in Syria and it probably dates back to 3400 years ago.

Which music is no longer popular in Zimbabwe? ›

Gospel music was generally unpopular in Zimbabwe because recording companies usually did not want to record gospel musicians. They were only a few notable gospel artists during the 1980s and 1990s, such as Jordan Chataika and Mechanic Manyeruke.

What is the role of song and dance in the Zimbabwean culture? ›

These dances are self-reflective, for the entire community because all music and dance are communal events. Dance to Zimbabweans is a very spiritual, powerful tool that carries on traditions, and chronicles the important events of their history and culture.

What is the main instrument used by the Shona of Zimbabwe? ›

The mbira

mbira
Noun. sanza (plural sanzas) (music) Any type of mbira (thumb piano, a plucked lamellophone) of Southern African origin.
https://en.wiktionary.org › wiki › sanza
is the national instrument of Zimbabwe. It is a traditional instrument that has been played by the Shona people of Zimbabwe for over a thousand years.

What is Chipendani used for? ›

The chipendani is a plucked stick-zither chordophone of the Shona and Ndebele peoples of Zimbabwe. It is a self-entertainment instrument once played by young boys herding cattle or as accompaniment for long foot journeys and as a courtship instrument, but is heard less and less today.

What is Museve music? ›

Sungura music is also known as Museve, which means an arrow. It shot into prominence soon after independence in 1980, borrowing Congolese Kanindo and South African Kwela influences, fusing them with traditional sounds into a distinctive fast-paced sound with a danceable beat.

What is hosho used for? ›

The hosho are Zimbabwean musical instruments consisting of a pair of maranka gourds with seeds. They are used as major instruments in many traditional Shona music genres, such as in mbira

mbira
Noun. sanza (plural sanzas) (music) Any type of mbira (thumb piano, a plucked lamellophone) of Southern African origin.
https://en.wiktionary.org › wiki › sanza
ensembles and in mhande. They typically contain hota seeds inside them.

What is JITI dance? ›

Jit (also known as jiti, jit-jive and the Harare beat) is a style of popular Zimbabwean dance music. It features a swift rhythm played on drums and accompanied by a guitar. Jit evolved out many diverse influences, including domestic chimurenga, Congolese rumba and Tanzanian guitar styles.

What is the popular style of Zimbabwe dance music? ›

The Mbende Jerusarema Dance is a popular dance style practiced by the Zezuru Shona people living in eastern Zimbabwe, especially in the Murewa and Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe districts.

How many traditional dances are in Zimbabwe? ›

There are about 12 prominent traditional dances in Zimbabwe, namely Shangara, Mbira dance, Dinhe, Mbakumba, Muchongoyo, Jerusarema, Mhande, Isitschikitsha, Amabhiza, Ingquza, Chinyobera and Ngungu. The Jerusarema dance and the Muchongoyo are widely regarded as the most important and distinctive dances of Zimbabwe.

Why is traditional dance important? ›

What is the importance of folk dance? Primarily, it keeps a culture of people alive, by sharing and teaching younger generations the dances. Dance keeps the history of people alive as well. Dances are ways a community celebrates a special event or important date in time.

Where did the Shona come from? ›

The Shona are a people whose ancestors built great stone cities in southern Africa over a thousand years ago. Today, more than 10 million Shona people live around the world. The vast majority live in Zimbabwe, and sizeable Shona populations are also located in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique.

What is Mhande? ›

Mhande is a traditional performance among the Shona people that incorporates music and dance. It is performed as part of the mutoro ceremony, the annual rain ritual of the Karanga. Instruments used in Mhande include drums and leg rattles.

What is Bira in Zimbabwe? ›

Bira is an all-night ritual, celebrated by Shona people from Zimbabwe in which members of an extended family call on ancestral spirits for guidance and intercession. Shona people believe that the only ones who can communicate with both the living and God are the ancestral spirits, or dzavadzimu.

What is the use of Magavhu? ›

Magagada, also called magahvu and mirara, are leg-rattle idiophones used by Shona dancers and musicians in Zimbabwe. They are used in any musical situation that features dancing.

How do you play Chigufe? ›

The player holds the spherical gourd in both hands against his or her chin at such an angle that a ribbon airstream passing through his or her lips is directed against an edge of the blowhole. Thumbs and fingers of both hands cover and uncover the fingerholes in various combinations to produce a few different pitches.

What is Hwamanda made of? ›

The hwamanda is a side-blown horn made from a kudu antler. The marrow is removed (through soaking) leaving only the exterior 'skin' of the antler.

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