Nhare, Matepe, and musical complexity

This Sunday was our day off. We had some nice chats in the afternoon and Sekuru brought up a point he had already mentioned before: “One matepe is enough to call the spirits, with the nhare [mbira dzavadzimu] you need two instruments (or an exceptionally good player that can take the role of two).”

I found this extremely interesting because it makes a direct connection between musical complexity and its ceremonial effectiveness. So I asked him if we could record that part of the conversation again.

In his words, mbira needs “mixing” – on top of a basic part a second player (or another finger) must play a cross-rhythm part to “fill the gaps” and to “create blur” (like when watching the spokes of a rotation bicycle wheel).


4 responses to “Nhare, Matepe, and musical complexity”

  1. Sebastian Pott avatar
    Sebastian Pott

    Moin, habe heute früh mal ins Interview reingeschaut, “it’s all about the mix”, herrlich, ich liebe es, und du hast dich echt zurückgehalten, ihm nicht andere Begriffe unterzujubeln, Klasse, sehr schön, viele Grüße aus meiner Werkstatt!
    Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks Sebastian!

  3. Marcel van Dijk avatar
    Marcel van Dijk

    Very interesting material! It seems to me that the extra dimension in terms of density and complexity has its base in the left index finger, which on the Matepe is made possible by the smaller tines. So it’s not about tuning but about physics and material. Or am i oversimplyfing now?

    1. I would say so. One may hear the left index keys adding a steady independent line rhythmically, but in fact it’s not (only) additive. Those notes are often cleverly interwoven with the other fingers, so that the audible lines often jump and forth between fingers, overtones of the bass notes included.

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