Explore music

By Country

  • 01 Mhuri Yekwa Muchena
  • 03 Tafaneyi Gweshe / Nyama Ku
  • 05 Tafaneyi Gweshe / Mbiringo
  • 07 Mhuri Yekwa Muchena / Maho
  • 10 Kevin Volans / Mbira

Kevin Volans Ensemble

Kevin Volans Ensemble / Mbira


The traditional folk music of the Shona tribe of Zimbabwe is played on the Mbira: a modest looking thumb piano with up to 54 metal tongues. The skill with which this instrument is played, however, is anything but modest. In fact, this highly developed musical tradition has fascinated Western composers of minimal music for quite some time.

Mbira music is characterized by trance-like repetitions of a short melody which is subtly altered over the course of a piece. The solo parts of the individual musicians are woven into a communal tapestry of highly complex melodies. For many Africans, this instrument embodies the soul of their continent.

An interesting contrast to these recordings from Zimbabwe is provided by the South African composer Kevin Volans, who orchestrates original Mbira patterns with the harpsichord and traditional rattle. His composition techniques bring to mind the minimal music of Philip Glass and Steve Reich.

German Phonographic Critics Prize

<< back