Author: Stefan Franke

  • Kaleidophony


    (this post is for social media, please excuse the redundancy) Most of us probably have seen the “Spinning Dancer”, a famous bistable optical illusion. Does the dancer turn left or right? Your brain decides, the animation is always the same. What if I told you that there is music which works the same way? Enter…

  • Matepe making: Fitting spokes and forging keys

    Matepe making: Fitting spokes and forging keys

    Today Sekuru shared with us his secrets on how to securely attach the bar to the soundboard, using bicycle spokes. In the morning he went to a local market to look for them. With the bar securely in place, Chawasarira explained the details of key forging. After finishing the first key, it was Samora’s and…

  • Making the bridge, bar and brace

    Making the bridge, bar and brace

    After finishing the hardwood inlays, and levelling the hard and soft bits of the soundboard, Sekuru showed how to make and fit in the bridge (which the keys rest on), the bar (which holds the keys in place, and the brace (which wraps around the soundboard and holds the bar in place.

  • Matepe making: Hardwood inlays

    Matepe making: Hardwood inlays

    After recording Hurombo, Sekuru was keen to finish the hardwood inlays of the matepe soundboard. They are used for the keys to rest on, and to prevent the bridge from tilting when inserting the keys (Chawasarira’s innovation).

  • Matepe making: Shaping the soundboard

    Matepe making: Shaping the soundboard

    Today we took a break from documenting repertoire and started with matepe making, in order to test to process and see if have everything we need. Chaka Chawasarira shaped a soundboard from a roughly cut block of mupepe wood.

  • Dinner at Katrin’s

    Dinner at Katrin’s

    While we were taking down the equipment of our afternoon recording session in Katrin’s garden, the first guests arrived for dinner. An illustrious round with Ambuya Stella’s daughter Virginia Mukwesha, Hope Masike, Melody Zambuko from Music Crossroads, and Plot Mhako. A splendid evening with delicious food and inspiring conversations, Katrin connected our project with Melody,…

  • Hurombo performance

    Hurombo performance

    After our recording session in Katrin Simon’s garden pavilion, Sekuru gave us a nice performance of Hurombo, the song we planned to record next

  • Solomon Madhinga

    Solomon Madhinga

    What an immense pleasure and honour to welcome our special guest after a long working day! Solomon Madhinga, player and maker of the mbira dzaVaNau arrived to meet us and bring a couple of his mbiras. He lives east of Chipinge, just a few km from the Mozambican border, and had started very early in…

  • More Kuvachenjedza Overdubs

    More Kuvachenjedza Overdubs

    Recording and overdubbing all of the six Kuvachenjedza parts… Taking a break from the recordings, Samora and Sekruru enjoyed themselves playing the song together…

  • Kuvachenjedza Overdubs

    Kuvachenjedza Overdubs

    One of the most challenging aspects of learning mbira, especially matepe, is to figure out how multiple players’ parts interlock with each other. In some cases, players are able to relate each part to a common reference (e.g. a beat pattern played with Hosho shakers). In Diwa area, matepe was not played with Hosho though.…

  • 1996 Mbira Festival in Amsterdam

    1996 Mbira Festival in Amsterdam

    Induldging in memories of touring with his Zengea Youth Karimba Ensemble, Sekuru pulled out this programme of a mbira festival at Muziekcentrum De IJsbreker with an amazing lineup: Chaka Chawasarira & Zengea Karimba Ensemble, Thomas Mapfumo & The Black Unlimited, Beauler Dyoko & the Black Souls, talks & lectures by Keith Goddard, Paul Berliner, and…

  • Kuvachenjedza


    Kuvachenjedza (Rega kuvachenjedza kuchadoka ~ Don’t warn them until it gets dark) is the most important song for the mhondoro spirits of Diwa / Makusengwa area, where Sekuru Chawasarira and his teacher Mathias Jackson Chidavaenzi stayed until they were forced to leave in 1974 by the beginning liberation struggle. Chawasarira says it’s his favourite song,…