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Mutamba takes Zim music to Canada

22/07/2017 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
Taking Mbira music to Canada ... Mayo Rainos Mutamba

ZIMBABWE’S multi-disciplinary artist, Mayo Rainos Mutamba will this July hold a mbira workshop in collaboration with the Marim Buzz Band at the Char’s Landing in Port Alberni, Canada.

The workshop, which will be held on July 29, will involve lessons on the spiritual, historical and cultural background of Zimbabwe with singing in Shona.

Marimba music originated in Zimbabwe in the 1960s when traditional Mbira tunes and rhythm were transposed to the much louder seven-piece marimba ensemble format.

A PhD student at the University of Toronto, Mutamba is also a community learning facilitator, speaker, researcher a musician, dancer and storyteller whose music is centred on the mbira, one of the oldest musical instruments used in Zimbabwe.

Mutamba plays with his Nhapitapi Band and sometimes does solo performances. He has performed in the United States of America and in Canada, where he has featured at major festivals such as the Afrofest in Toronto.

Growing up in a large family in a small rural village in Zimbabwe where story telling was a ritual, Mutamba developed a knack for storytelling and has told stories in schools, community centres, festivals, healing circles and around fires.

To this day Mutamba draws upon stories that his grandmother, sisters, mother and other relatives inherited from his ancestors.

Marim Bam Buzz, on the other hand, have been playing Marimba music in the Alberni Valley since 1994 after a group of people who attended a Marimba Muzuva in the town decided to form their own Port Alberni Marimba band as a community project and made their own marimbas.

The group built marimbas based on Zimbabwean Shona music using peduk, although they are usually built using hardwoods such as vermilion and mahogany.

Marimbas are finely crafted xylophones whose keys are fine-tuned to reflect the tones played in African societies.

Each key has a resonator which amplifies the sound, producing a unique musical effect, bell-like tones of the soprano marimba to the deep, percussive tones of the bass (Marim Bam Buzz used PVC pipes and wood plugs covered with cellophane which gives the buzz). 

The Marim Bam Buzz ensemble has seven marimbas (three sopranos, two tenors, a baritone and bass) along with percussion instruments: hoshos, cow bells, triangle and various hand drums.


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