How far is far enough for mbira to adapt to and adopt new technologies?
Most of us will be familiar with the uneasiness that surrounds the relationship between new technologies and the ‘traditional’ mbira technologies. From the uneasiness on the use of fibreglass dezes, the issue of electric pickups to the use of chain adjusters instead of wire, there seems to be a number of ‘technological advancements and adaptations’ that divide opinion in mbira circles.
A view from Twitter
After posting a question on Twitter on this issue, there were a number of interesting views on the issue and one stated an often ignored fact. Please see below what @Clickyc had to say about the mbira;
Points of enquiry
To explore the issue of mbira and new technologies further, over the next few weeks we will be seeking people’s , (mbira players and ‘general public’), views on the following subjects.
- Case of the deze: Fibreglass or natural gourd? Some say the sound from fibreglass dezes sounds ‘unnatural’, others say good natural gourds are hard to come by, others say there is no difference whatsoever. What are your experiences and preferences on using either natural gourd or fibreglass dezes?
- Case of types of amplification: Deze or electric pickup? one feature of most Zimbabwean traditional mbira is that they are detachable from the deze. You can play the instrument outside the deze and it’s fine but the moment you want to amplify it you need the deze, that is traditionally speaking. In the advent of amps, is it OK to put an electric pickup on your mbira and use an amp (electronic deze)?
- The case of keeping keys in place: Chain adjusters or wire, does it matter?
- Buzzing: Shells, Castle, Coke, Fanta, Heineken, Honey Dew, or Eagle bottle tops? What works for buzzing? Should all mbiras have some sort of buzzing? One usual experience from here in England is hen a person hears you play mbira for the first time that usually say ‘how lovely, but is all that buzzing necessary? Wouldn’t it sound cleaner without it’!
Responses will be posted in bite sized posts on Zvembira.com.
Have a great weekend! Ridzai mbira!