Kuvachenjedza (Rega kuvachenjedza kuchadoka ~ Don’t forewarn them until it gets dark) is the most important song for the Mhondoro spirits in the Diwa / Makusengwa area, according to Chawasarira. Ceremonies are usually started with this song.

He says it is his favourite song, for which he knows six parts “in and out”, all of which can be played simultaneously by different players. Plus one part called Dimbotimbo, that is incompatible with the others, and is played at the climax of a Mhondoro ceremony, when the spirits speak.

Kuvachenjedza seems to have a similar position in the matepe repertoire as Nhemamusasa for the nhare (mbira dzavadzimu): it is played in numerous versions by players from every region.

Basic version (player #1)

This is the variation that Chawasarira teaches first to any student. He starts with a simplified version and then moves on to various levels of embellishment.

About Kuvachenjedza

Each music lesson in our tutorial comes with a second “About …” video in which Chawasarira talks about the pieces and shares what he wants students to know about them.

This is what he has to say about Kuvachenjedza Basic version, and the song in general.

Variation 1: Gunguwo harina munda (player #2)

Gunguwo Harina Munda” ~ “The crow does not have a field, it survives on scavenging” – These are just poetic words thrown in during playing. It’s like the mbira itself is singing those words. The playing is on a climax and everyone is enjoying the ceremony. Anyone can throw in different poetic words.

About Variation 1

Variation 2: Mapirigada (player #3)

Mapirigada” ~ “going here and forth, or freestyling”

This variation is Chawasarira’s creation.

About Variation 2

Variation 3: Nhundura (player #4)

Nhundura” (a deep Shona word, probably Korekore ~ “To enhance the melody”.

About Variation 3

Variations 4 and 4b: Kukoromora (player #5)

“Kukoromora” ~ “To rearrange the melody already being playing by sort of bringing discord, in a way it is going against other players’ melodies”.

While revisiting variation 4 in the About Variation 5 video in the next section, Sekuru pulled out another beautiful variation that appears to go another way harmonically, but that he insists goes together with the basic version.

While editing we decided to call this variation 4b and append it to the following Kukoromora tutorial:

About Variation 4

Variation 5: Nyanduri (player #6)

Nyanduri ~ Poet. A playing style bringing out the poetic feel of the song.

About Variation 5

Dimbotimbo (Kuvachenjedza Variation 6)

“Dimbotimbo” ~ “Deep playing of mbira to provide a background that enhances the energy as the spirit speaks to the people”.

Though incompatible with the other variations, Chawasarira considers it still a variation of Kuvachenjedza. Played on its own, even by multiple players in unison.

About Dimbotimbo

Dimbotimbo, according to Sekuru, means the deep playing of [any kind of] mbira for the purpose of keeping the spirits present.

Combining parts

All parts combined

Just for the fun of it, here is @samora’s split-screen montage of all the instrumental parts.

Beat placement (conversation)

When playing several matepe parts together, are you guided by a common notion of “beat“, e.g. as played on hosho or as danced? Or do you learn the parts in relation to each other?

Different mbira and matepe players have different practices.

About Kupandutsa Kuvachenjedza

Pandutsa (infinitive kupandutsa, imperative panduka) is a musical announcement of a matepe player to start playing, or change into a new pattern.

Kupandutsa Combining parts

This video shows Sekuru going into a number of variations on top of the basic version.