Drumbeat echoes from Chiweshe

Beaven Tapureta Own Correspondent
The Music Crossroads Academy last Friday officially launched two research-based documentations on “The Drum Cultures of Chiweshe” and “The Mbira/Sungura Guitar Styles of Zimbabwe”, which are results of a culture preservation project funded by the German Embassy in Zimbabwe. The launch took place at the Zimbabwe German Society in Harare.

The two documentations carry deep music and culture knowledge as one can learn from the one-to-one interviews done with different Zimbabwean musicians and cultural guardians or experts. The young musicians keen on tracing the background and interpretations of specific drum cultures of Chiweshe which lies within the Mazowe district, and the overall mbira/sungura guitar styles, will surely not put these knowledge-rich materials down once they start reading them.

In his speech at the launch, German Ambassador Thorstein Hutter highlighted the great influence cultural heritage has upon cultural identity and how it helps to renew dialogue among members of different cultures.

“Cultural heritage passed from our ancestors must be preserved for the benefit of all. And in an era of globalisation in which the world is becoming smaller and smaller, cultural heritage helps us to remember our cultural identity, develops mutual respect and renews dialogue among different cultures,” he said.

Ambassador Hutton also said he was delighted with the project ‘‘documenting the drum cultures and mbira/guitar styles of Zimbabwe’’ which awakens some of Zimbabwe’s rich but almost forgotten drumming traditions and guitar styles.

According to Emmanuel Mujuru of Music Crossroads Academy, Chiweshe was selected for logistical reasons and also because it is one of those communal areas in Zimbabwe where the drum music is still rich.

Eminent among other issues that emerged during the panel discussion held at the launch was a plea for the creation of purely Zimbabwean musical notations or indigenous methods of transcribing music. There was such concern over fabrication of information in some of the new books being published today about Zimbabwean music. Is this fabrication then due to lack of music critics or total ignorance of research on the part of the writers?

The lively discussion, which could have taken up the rest of the programme had the moderator not stopped the questions from flooding in,  consisted of panelists Clive Mukundu and Nicholas Zachariah who are both well-known musicians, drum teacher Collen Tom, and two cultural guardians Tellmore Manhambara and Neria Mupandira.

Music Crossroads Academy in Zimbabwe and its German counterpart The Global Music Academy have been working together to help document some of the musical traditions in Zimbabwe with the idea of developing new curricula for the new professional training program at the academy in Harare. The launch was attended by various stakeholders in the music and culture industry, and writers such as Virginia Phiri and Chirikure Chirikure also came to support their fellow artists, thus showing the inseparable nature of music and literatu

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